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The Daily Tar Heel

Mississippi Allstars Light Fire Underneath The Blues

North Mississippi Allstars
Cat's Cradle
Saturday, Nov. 1

The North Mississippi Allstars began their set with a musical explosion, and they had no trouble in keeping the fire raging for the rest of the night.

Cody Dickinson's rampaging drum work was the first sound to come from the band. Chris Chew strengthened the rhythm with his fat, popping bass notes, and the beast of blues was awakened.

Deep and dirty hill-country music marched along and growled like a wild animal -- the band was relentless, crackling with energy.

And the crowd felt it. While they danced, bounced and shook to Dickinson and Chew's beats and thumps, they were wowed by the scintillating guitar work of Luther Dickinson and Dwayne Burnside. The show's energy hit a number of peaks whenever the Allstars decided to let the spontaneity of jamming take over.

Unlike some other jam bands, the Allstars never descended into self-indulgence. With every change in tempo and key, the band dove into a powerful new blues-rock groove. Every note of its midsong explorations had a purpose, leading seamlessly into another song.

At one point, after several jam-heavy minutes, the band segued into "Skinny Woman" without skipping a beat; there were many moments where the band seemed to transcend individual song structure and hit upon something pure. The music moved quickly from sizzling to cool, from sinister to heavenly.

Which proved the blues have a powerful ally in the North Mississippi Allstars. The old bluesmasters won't be around forever, and the music needs young talent to keep it thriving.

The Allstars kept it pumping on Saturday night, and their fiery, spiritual energy allowed the blues to truly thrive.

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