The Scene: The setting of the North Mississippi Allstars show at The Ogden last Saturday was straight out of a concert hall from the late ’70s. People were ready to party, and party they did. This was a sweat-soaked, late summer showdown, that reeked of the muddy Mississippi. Sweat was flying, drinks were disappearing, and water was being poured on the front row…but we’ll get to that later. All in all, this was one of the most fun shows I’ve been to all year, and it seemed everyone in the crowd was kicking back for some good ol’ Saturday night fun with Rock ‘n Roll.
The Opener: Missing Cats. Right off the bat the party was heating up with Missing Cats, the acoustic duo made up of John “JoJo” Hermann, more commonly known as the keyboardist for Widespread Panic, and Sherman Ewing, a longtime solo guitarist and songwriter. The two have been friends since the early 80s, and their natural cohesion came across as they delivered a stellar set topped with a lengthy sit-in from Luther Dickinson on bass guitar.
The Headliner: North Mississippi Allstars powered out a rager of a set, making Denverites feel like this show was the apex of the band’s tour. Elevating us to a musical euphoria were brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, seemingly one-upping each other with the use of uncommon instruments such as an electric washboard, played by Cody, while Luther banged against a bass drum early on and whipped out a matchbox guitar later in the set. It was hard not to imagine what life was like growing up in the Dickinson household where musical talent surely overflowed.
Throughout the set we were on our feet, yearning for more, yet more than satisfied. Minute to minute we couldn’t wait to hear what North Mississippi Allstars had in store next, and were pumped when the band changed the lyrics of “Skinny Women” to “Colorado Women.” The backdrop for the whole show was footage from the road; tree-lined streets and beautiful scenery, each picture transporting us into the environment that inspired their gritty and unrestrained music.
While the Dickinson boys stood their southern ground with inspiring runs on various instruments, the band’s temporary bassist “Lightin’ Maclom” worked the crowd with his nods of approval, big smiles, and passionate playing on bass. Though Malcom was a natural at winning over the crowd and tying together the range of sounds onstage, the Allstars longtime bassist Chris Chew was missed as he is still recovering from a diabetic coma that he suffered earlier this year.
As the hours passed by, so did some people’s manners and Luther took matters into his own hands when he poured his bottled water on a crude guy in the center of the pit. The crowd cheered as we caught a glimpse of the rough around the edges nature that has shaped North Mississippi Allstars into a league of their own.
Next time you have the chance to check out this band, you definitely should, and be sure to stay for the encore. It was worth waiting for, as the trio of southern boys found room for a four-song mini-set, and the crowd certainly had the appetite for it. The second song in the encore, “KC Jones,” was the best, albeit a little more jam-based than we’re used to hearing from North Mississippi Allstars. The final song of the night was “Daisy Mae,” and it showcased all the musicians from both bands on the stage while JoJo sent us on our way with some incredible keyboard work.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: B