North Mississippi Allstars: 25.Feb.2010 – Philadelphia

Last Thursday the talented North Mississippi Allstars sauntered into the spacious downstairs of the World Cafe Live in Philly.

World Café Live, an attractive music venue in downtown Philadelphia, is not unlike New York’s Joe’s Pub, but much grander. Like Joe’s it plays host to a diverse range of talented artists. Last Thursday it was the talented trio, North Mississippi Allstars that sauntered into the spacious downstairs Café Live area. Due to an impending snow storm a smaller but dedicated and daring crowd showed up. And the band—composed of lead singer and guitar slinger, Luther Dickinson (also lead for The Black Crowes), his brother, and drummer, Cody Dickinson, and Chris Chew on bass—rewarded them with a seriously incendiary set spanning two hours.

The Allstars lead off with “51 Phantom” and then went straight into “Lord Have Mercy”, both tracks from earlier days. Luther ended “Lord” with the first extended solo of the night, demonstrating why fans revere him so. Later, Chew toasted the audience with his cup and took his turn to sing. And in return for the sly track, “I’d Love to be a Hippy”, he received applause and whistles. However, the all-star song of the evening was “Psychedelic Sex Machine”. Donning his Woogie Board, Cody pummeled the crumpled metal with his fingers while the rest of the band was joined by their three friends from openers The City Champs. Only an hour in, it was hard to imagine the band had more to give.

There were few interruptions in the music and only a brief pause before the encore. When they did pause, Luther spoke on behalf of the band, telling everyone that they were “glad to be back and see all the familiar faces”. Their final song was dedicated to Jack Rose, the Philadelphia-based guitarist who passed away in December. Luther, poised atop a stool, played a mellow, somber instrumental in remembrance. He then departed, giving respectful thanks to the audience and hoping to see them again soon. Each member demonstrating extraordinary dexterity while giving it his all, the Allstars were “committing murder”, as one fan put it.

Also strange was the unique geography of the club space. All Black Crowes fans and guitar-heads were crowded stage right, absorbing all of Luther’s subtle tricks. Stage left, near Chew, was the designated mover and shaker space, though Chew showed no particular graces as a dancer. Afterwards they all lingered as the band came out to mingle, sign autographs, and pose for pictures.

Setlist (Internet Archive download here)

01 Intro > 51 Phantom

02 Lord Have Mercy >

03 Shake

04 All Night Long

05 18 Hammers >

06 Po Black Maddie > Skinny Woman >

07 Drums > Sugartown

08 I’d Love To Be A Hippy

09 Let It Roll

10 Shake Em On Down

11 Sweet Jelly Roll

12 Storm #

13 Psychedelic Sex Machine $

14 Goin’ Home +

15 Ghetto

16 Boomer’s Story

17 Almost Done

18 Teasin’ Brown

19 Goin’ Down South

20 Hear My Train A Comin’ >

21 Let My Baby Ride


22 Mean Ol’ Wind Died Down

23 Luther Instrumental

# w/ Al Gamble

$ w/ George Sluppick & Al Gamble

+ w/ George Sluppick, Joe Restivo and Al Gamble

Photos by Sachyn Mital