North Mississippi All-Stars: Shake Hands with Shorty


By Steve Lichtenstein

"K.C. Jones" is an intoxicating, addictive song. Much like a certain similarly named Grateful Dead song, and the Doobie's "Black Water," "K.C. Jones" nods along at its own lazy, stoned pace, completely entrancing you. It's impossible to belittle the cliched drinking and police and woman and open road lyrics, even though you sorely want to, because the song is just so damn likeable. Unfortunately, the rest the All-Stars' Shake Hands with Shorty, spearheaded by brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, sons of legendary Mephis musician/producer Jim Dickinson, mostly eschews this casualness for a more intense, bluesy sound. While certainly not a bad thing, and often very raw and grating in the best way, the album as a whole suffers from a lack of ease that "K.C. Jones" exudes so willfully.

Still, songs like the military march of “Station Blues,” and the kinetic, Black Crowes ferocity of “Shake ‘Em on Down,” get under your skin and into the rootsy blues closet you have reserved somewhere. And for the most part, the album maintains the feel of the Allman Brothers and other blues-rock standards.

Shake Hands With Shorty is by no means disappointing, or undeserving of the considerable amount of hype the album, and the young band are getting. It rocks and stirs as much as you could ask for, and rejuvenates a music style largely ignored today, both by the general listening public and by up and coming musicians. But if only there were more “Wire in the Mountains” and “End of the Devils”...

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