South Memphis String Band
Old Times There
By Doug ColletteMay 03, 2012
With Luther Dickinson’s enlistment in the Black Crowes back in 2007 and his subsequent return to The North Mississippi All Stars, he’s inspired himself to nurture his propensity for collaborative projects. With The South Memphis String Band, a collaboration with Jimbo Mathus and Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dickinson lends his versatile blues rock guitar playing to yet another roots project.
The South Memphis String Band’s Old Times There d
raws on their shared Southern roots and was recorded in antique fashion, which suits the largely acoustic textures of the opener “Good Old Rebel.” Dickinson, Mathus and Hart make no effort to sound fashionable, but the good humor in their collective sound charms thoroughly in “Just Like A Monkey.”
The self-effacing attitude depicted in the vintage tones and character posing on the album cover photo belies the fact these are musicians well-schooled in their roots. “Feather Bed” is the sound of players rediscovering the joy of this chosen style as well as the motivation at the heart of the tune(s). No doubt that’s why original material, like Mathus’ contemplative “Stonewall 1863," is of a piece with the traditional songs that surround it; a palpable recognition of the perpetual cycle of life runs through all these numbers, including this one set in Civil War times.
Fifteen tracks comprise less than forty minutes of playing time for Old Times There
, which makes it a pithy statement of spontaneity, albeit one with perhaps limited appeal outside Luther Dickinson completists or roots music aficionados. Still, any music lover with an irreverent streak will dote on what’s happening here. “B-L-A-C-K” pricks the balloon of political correctitude in such a way it obliquely comments on racism in all its forms, while “See The Uncle Sam” likewise skewers jingoism. There’s more to the South Memphis String Band than a mere fondness for acoustic guitars and banjos.