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Home Sweet Home

by: South Memphis String Band

Album Artwork

(Memphis International)

The South Memphis String Band is Luther Dickinson (NMAS, Black Crowes), Alvin Youngblood Hart and Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers). Home Sweet Home counts as the group's debut release. These guys have been playing music together for years so it's no surprise the cohesive nature of these old-time 12 songs sound brilliant. Before he died last year, Luther's father Jim wrote this about The South Memphis String Band:

"Spring thaw. The voice of the turtle is heard in the land. Nature's miracle of rebirth fills the breeze with the sweet smell of Easter blossoms. It's a good time to listen to the blues. As the free world teeters once again on the terrifying brink of depression, return with us now to those bygone days of yesteryear and lose your troubles in the timeless songs of the South Memphis String Band. Three younger contemporary blues artists, each in his own right a rising star. Three modern Mississippi musicians on a knight's quest to retrieve, preserve and carry into the future America's most unique and meaningful musical statement. String Band music from the Mississippi Skeiks and Cannon's Jug Stompers to the South Carolina Chocolate Drops represent to scholars the pre be bop of the South. Sophisticated chord progressions syncopate into what appears to be medicine show vaudeville humor yet with a dark core of philosophic irony that gives modern relevance and meaning to an antique form.

"These three musicians are each different yet the same. Luther Dickinson's good natured slide has spread the North Mississippi Hill Country Boogie to the world. Jimbo Mathus is the singing voice of Huckleberry Finn. The mighty Alvin Youngblood Hart is a force of nature and perhaps the best modern purveyor of the early Delta blues alive today. So pull up a chair and pour some gin in your glass. If you don't dig this there is seriously something wrong with you."

"Jesse James" opens the disc. The song sounds as if it was recorded in the 1930s, and still retains a timeless quality for an old musical story. Hart's banjo-playing propels "Deep Blue Sea" as Dickinson and Mathus serve as side-instrumentalists on this handed-down composition. "Old Hen" incorporates the blues, country and bluegrass into one streamlined sound as Dickinson sings the ballad narrative.

Mathus' original composition "Worry Bout Your Own Backyard" sounds like it could be a cut from Levon Helm's Dirt Farmer or Dust to Digital's Goodbye, Babylon. "Things Is Bout Coming My Way" emits a homespun quality you might hear in a saloon at three o'clock in the afternoon. These three musicians contain a strong chemistry between them, and their musical abilities are enhanced by one another.

Blind Willie Johnson's "Let Your Light Shine On Me" exists as a soulful, blues number that captures an Old America at its zenith. Yet, these songs were recorded in 2009. Dickinson's playing stands out on this one. "The Carrier Line" exists as some cosmic railroad country blues. "Bloody Bill Anderson" contains a banjo-mandolin-laced tune that serves as the sonic landscape to a dark tale. Hart's haunting voice resonates a chilling effect.

Jonny Lee Moore's "Eighteen Hammers" sounds like a one-take gem recorded at Zebra Ranch as the sun began to set. There's a chain-gang echo on this tune that verifies these musicians can evoke a spooky musical message. "Bootlegger's Blues", a Mississippi Sheiks song, sounds like an old Jimmie Rodgers tune where Hart convinces the listener with his strong vocal delivery.

"Dixie Darling"--an A.P. Carter song--sounds better than the original in the way these musicians interpret the musical arrangement. The title track closes the CD. Dickinson really serves as the catalyst of this group of musicians, and it's evident on this closing song. The South Memphis String Band's Home Sweet Home represents seasoned contemporary musicians paying homage to America's Old Songbook.

James Calemine

related tags

Music,
Mississippi,
Tennessee,
Memphis,
Mystery and Manners,
Lore,

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If the Music is as good at the liner notes above. I've got to hear it. The introduction has me believing that what went into these songs is so much more than today's music of any genre. Hope the music yet to hear doesn't let me down. Or another way to look at it is that Luther's father Jim should receive a Mark Twain Award for his original description of the album!

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Can't wait to get this into my collection...Thanks for the 411

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