NMA: Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya

The trio is great but there's also something seductive about playing in a big band, which may be part of why I wanted to be part of the Crowes. It's a huge wall of sound to be surfin' on top of. It's fun and it suits me. I love singing and writing but when it comes down to it, I just want to play.

Luther Dickinson

Photo of Luther Dickinson by imaphotog

"It's important for us to make homemade records in our own studio. The last two [NMA] records were done in Memphis, which is great and an honor and tradition, but in this day and age I think that atmosphere and the intangible vibe is more important than sonic clarity. The records I love aren't perfect. I heard [The Replacements'] Pleased to Meet Me, which my father produced, and it was the imperfections of that record that really hit home for me. If they'd made that record five years ago it would have been WAY more polished. I had to tell my band [with Hernando], 'If the vocals are out of tune, well, so be it [laughs].' Just let it be."

North Mississippi Allstars
Luther and Cody also worked with spectacular songwriter and roots rocker John Hiatt on 2005's Master of Disaster album, where the siblings formed the core backing band with legendary bassist David Hood, father of Drive-By Trucker Patterson Hood.

"That was super cool, man. And John, talk about committing! All the vocals on that are live off the floor. That really impressed me and started me on the path that led to Hernando, where we're cutting things live to keep it real," offers Luther. "We spent two summers touring with him, and I played on his new record coming out soon. It's largely acoustic and really really fine. Touring with him, it was great to see people react to songs he wrote but had only heard from Bonnie Raitt or Eric Clapton."

"A real breakthrough for me on this [new] record was collaborating. The band writes a lot of music together, especially Chris, who'll come up with a bassline at soundcheck or something and I'll make note of it for later. He wrote a lot of the riffs on this record. But, this was the first time I'd hang out with someone like Jimbo [Mathus] and say, 'Let's write a song.' My friend Aaron Julison plays bass for Kid Rock, and we'd go to Detroit and just write songs. I love the collaborative aspect of the music but this was the first time as a lyricist that I tapped into that tradition of two cats sitting in a room alone to write songs. It's a beautiful thing," says Luther. "After the last record touring cycle, I didn't write any lyrics for almost two years. Then, I got together with Jimbo. I had tons of music because I'd started working with computers and had documented tons of musical ideas. So, we got together in my dining room, and he said, 'I always wanted to write a song about shaking what your mama gave ya.' And I said, 'Well, I got this riff.' We started going and quickly had the first version of 'Shake.' He's such a jumpstart!"

Another factor putting some piss in Luther's vinegar lately is his invitation to join The Black Crowes last year. He's a major highlight of that band's forthcoming Warpaint album (arriving March 4 on the Crowes' own Silver Arrow label) and will be touring hard throughout 2008 with both the Allstars and Crowes.

"The trio is great but there's also something seductive about playing in a big band, which may be part of why I wanted to be part of the Crowes," comments Luther. "It's a huge wall of sound to be surfin' on top of. It's fun and it suits me. I love singing and writing but when it comes down to it, I just want to play. It's a commitment. You have to lay it down. You gotta come on with the come on!"

The idea of total commitment to each piece of the puzzle is integral to The Black Crowes, and it's heartening to see Luther's own sensibilities dovetail so well with his new bandmates.

"That's an invisible spirit. You can't nail that down. There's an energy you conjure up by touring a lot, playing nightly with the same people, and I don't think you can fake that. It's funny when you're backing someone up and you're supposed play like you've been together for years. It's impossible. You can't fake the funk."

JamBase | Mississippi
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[Published on: 1/24/08]

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ScIFreak Thu 1/24/2008 03:03PM
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I'll be the First one to say that Luther is one hell of a guitar player! I don't go to many NMA show's, but the one's I've seen he was more than great. I also just saw one of the Word shows (NYC) and he WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!! As much as I loved Robert Randolph, he stole the show with his guitar licks!! Any way thank's JAMbase for giving us an article about a "jam"band..

moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/24/2008 04:00PM
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Looking fwd to catching 'em next month in Portland. I've NEVER seen a bad NMAS show. They ALWAYS bring the heat...

HoodooVoodoo starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/24/2008 04:01PM
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Luther's brother reminds me of that kid from that movie "Road Trip" with Tom Green. You know...the skinny guy who has the dog that licks the peanut butter off of him. Anyone else see the resemblance?

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/24/2008 05:43PM
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Word Up!

bigchris starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 01:19AM
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Luther is the dirtiest player around. can't wait to hear the new NMAS album and seem them live in a few weeks.

Better get on the black crowes too!

D.B.Higdon starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 06:47AM
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Great article, and the writing and phrasing really captures what Luther and the boys are about. I'm really excited about the new venture with the Crowes; adding Luther to the mix really amps their arsenal of rockin tunes. The first few times that I caught the NMA's was early on at the Mangy Moose, and while it was certainly good, I wasn't floored. Then, I caught them on tour with Hiatt, and I was blown away. They were completely on fire opening the show with a full set that was scorching. Then, as the sun was going down, they backed Hiatt for his set, and they dug deep into his vast repertoire and brought out some gems. You could tell that they were all having a great time on stage, and I don't think that I would have had a chance to hear some of these songs had he been on tour with the Goners.

Luther sounds like a real down to earth guy who knows his musical origins and where to assign due credit; building a style but always returning to his influences in respect. I like that he referenced Please to Meet Me (great album) because the Replacements do the exact same thing on that album by paying respect to Big Star's Alex Chilton.

IPowrie Fri 1/25/2008 07:07AM
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Great Article about one of the top bands out there today cant wait to here the new album and the new Black Crowes album to

Ladoo starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 07:15AM
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I was able to catch NMA for the first time last summer at Wakarusa and they were great. In my opinion Luther was the star of the festival. I've listened to the new album a couple of times and I feel it's their best yet. These guys are the real deal. I'm excited to see what the Crowes sound like the addition of Luther.

RedHeaven starstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 08:47AM
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Luther seems like a dandy to interview. I love the part where he talks about how it feels like your in the dream when you play on stage for hours. Makes me wish I was playing....NMAS rocks....and damn Luther is fun to look at. phew.

donley26 starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 12:07PM
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NMAS allways brings the heat...most consistant band out there with the exception to any that d.trucks plays in. Cody is the most underrated drummer ever, the noise that boy makes on one kit is amazing. Make sure to catch them on this tour...melt your face off.

Ezalis starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 12:38PM
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This is a great hometown band. I remember seeing them play at our local high school. They have an awesome on stage presence whenever they play, and my favorite is when Cody brings out the washboard.

COLOSKIER starstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 03:21PM
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hells yah. nice article, i'll be seeing these guys this sunday night at the paradise in beantown!!!

christophebaise Sat 1/26/2008 04:58AM
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I believe these guys are the hottest band going right now. Can't wait to go see them tonight in Troy.

Hippie_RN starstarstarstarstar Sat 1/26/2008 09:17AM
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nice article.

these guys are all about a good time, as has been said.

i can never pass up seeing these guys when they pass thru town.

seeing the show at 8150 in vail with the 'bouncing dance floor' was one of the most fun bar shows i have eveer attended

luther on slide = sickness

super excited for the new black crowes ensamble

Hippie_RN Sat 1/26/2008 09:18AM
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keep the devil down is a great tune, cant wait to hear that one live

DELYEAH starstarstarstarstar Sat 1/26/2008 11:18AM
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I freakin love NMA! They bring so much raw, dirty ass energy in their live shows, it makes me want to punch the guy next to me and then buy him a beer to apologize. Once Luther starts up the buzzsaw, it's all over.

candise Sat 1/26/2008 12:11PM
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Nice read.

keenan41 starstarstarstarstar Sat 1/26/2008 03:08PM
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I'll be seeing these guys in Troy tonight. These guys never let down

crescentvale Sat 1/26/2008 03:43PM
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NMAS will always bring the heat, check out my jambase for pics.

rdawson124 starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/27/2008 06:34PM
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These guys brought the house down at The Dame in Lex, KY couple years ago. One of the best live acts period.

cocheese starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/28/2008 05:43AM
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these guys are just great, and represent what is so great about music. they really connect with the crowd. I'm really looking forward to seeing them next month at the small and intimate 3rd and Lindsley here in Nashville.

threef starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/28/2008 09:48AM
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The NMAS are going to be on E-Town here this week or the next if you get that show on the radio. When I saw the taping Luther did the sickest version of Dylans Masters of wars. You must take a listen and that song still ring so true of our modern Life during wartime we live in. I can't wait to see these guys in a few weeks in denver

STEG187 starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/29/2008 12:15PM
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Dennis Cook is the Mike Jordan of this shit right here...

FreeHawk starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/29/2008 03:32PM
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NMAS are fucken great. Also a bunch of cool humble guys. Going to snag this album this weekend.

LarryM starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/29/2008 10:19PM
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Does anyone have a extra for the show in Chicago?

raygilly starstarstarstarstar Wed 2/6/2008 10:42AM
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Great article, THANK YOU! And I cannot wait to see Luther with the Crowes!

stellarrstarr starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/14/2008 02:31PM
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North Miss was my first show when I moved to Boulder, Colorado a few years ago. I remember being in a Sold Out room and not knowing a soul ... and dancing my a$$ off like tomorrow wouldn't come ("Shake" speaks to me in some serious ways, my friends!). These boys can BRING it!

Can't wait to relive those memories at the Fox Theatre this weekend! Fri, Feb 15th & Sat, Feb 16th - Coloradoites, where you at?