Legendary producer Jim Dickinson’s two sons have been playing in a trio for years, but the North Mississippi Allstars have been on the road sans bassist periodically; as they were recently at the Mountain Jam Festival in Hunter, NY (population at Mt. Jam: 5,000; population of Hunter: 500). Two days later, brothers Luther and Cody played an extraordinarily intimate set—ironically, in Times Square—at the Iridium (pop. 140), Les Paul’s old haunt.
Les’ Monday nights now are reserved for guitarists, and neither Luther nor Cody let Les or the audience down. The NMA Duo started off the night by joining the Les Paul Trio on a few classic Les Paul numbers, probably surprising many in the audience with their jazz chops. Drummer Cody, holding sticks like a rocker but playing brushes like a cat, set the stylish pace for Luther and Trio guitarist Lou Pallo. Both the performers and audience alike laughed in delight as Luther traded licks with the awe-inspiring keyboardist John Colianni.
The Trio left the stage to the Duo LuCo (Luther/Cody), who rocked through many of their favorites. Luther took turns on a cigar box guitar and a two-string coffee can guitar (an instrument held together with electrician’s tape, no trendy Starbucks here), and Cody picked up his electric washboard, one of the few instruments Les Paul didn’t tinker with. The two then paired acoustic guitars, blowing this writer away with a duet of “Goin’ Home,” in a stunningly intricate six-minute tour de force. Not a dull moment for the capacity population.
Photos by Arnie Goodman