Luther Dickinson's new solo album, Rock 'n Roll Blues
, will be released March 18 on New West Records. Made with just acoustic guitar, vocals, stand up bass and drums, the album of self described "folk punk country blues" offers a side of Luther seldom seen before. From the propulsive beat and unbridled sound of opener "Vandalize" to the rambunctious acoustic strut and barbed chorus hook of "Bar Band," which relives Luther's dues-paying youth playing battles of the band and plastering Memphis with concert flyers to "Blood 'n Guts," chronicling the transience of a life spent in a van driving from one gig to the next, it's clear this is a unique chapter in the acclaimed Southern musician's songbook.
Pure Volume is premiering "Vandalize," a song Luther first wrote as a teenager after seeing his childhood favorite band Black Flag with his dad, the late great producer and musician Jim Dickinson (Big Star, the Replacements, Ry Cooder), at a record store in Memphis. Luther recounts the formative show in the third verse: "There were no all age shows in my day/ For free and instrumental was how they played/ In a record store, free for the kids/ I got so excited, had to vandalize." Listen to it here
Luther is best known as the lead guitarist and vocalist for boogie and blues-rock innovators North Mississippi Allstars and has recorded with an amazing array of musicians throughout his impressive career including Robert Plant, Levon Helm, Beck, Ry Cooder, Mavis Staples, Patty Griffin, John Hiatt, Lucero, and Jon Spencer among others. Since he first made his recording debut at 14 playing guitar on The Replacement's Pleased To Meet Me, he has become widely known both as a talented go-to musician and producer with five Grammy nominations to prove it.
Recorded at Zebra Ranch, the Dickinson family home studio in Mississippi, Rock 'n Roll Blues sees Luther entering a new phase of his storied musical career. More informed by a youth spent listening to punk and rock than the blues-rock of his revered North Mississippi All Stars, the record, although not punk in sound, is in spirit and its DIY ethos. Essentially an autobiography set to music, the 10-track LP traces Luther's journey from excitable teen growing up in rural Mississippi to tour-van vet and showcases his acutely observant songwriting and superb guitar playing.
More in line with his South Memphis String Band records or his two Grammy-nominated solo albums than with the North Mississippi Allstars, Rock 'n Roll Blues as Luther puts it is "folk music with juke-joint drums and lots of harmonies," which means the rhythm section is both propulsive and supple, confident yet restrained. According to Luther, these songs finally came alive when he brought in bass player Amy LaVere and drummer Sharde Thomas. LaVere is a celebrated Memphis actress/singer-songwriter with three excellent albums under her name, two of which were produced by Jim Dickinson. Her upcoming fourth album was produced by Luther. Thomas is the granddaughter of the late great blues fife player Otha Turner (that's his cane fife she's playing on "Mojo, Mojo").
Luther will perform songs from Rock 'n Roll Blues as well as songs from his deep catalog on tour next month as part of Southern Soul Assembly with fellow southern guitar slingers JJ Grey of MOFRO, Anders Osbourne and Marc Broussard. The tour will kick off March 18 in Evanston, IL and conclude April 12 in Washington, D.C. Prior to the jaunt, Luther will perform several shows at the SXSW Music Festival.
SOUTHERN SOUL ASSEMBLY FEATURING LUTHER DICKINSON, JJ GREY, ANDERS OSBOURNE AND MARC BROUSSARD
March 12 - Austin, TX @ SXSW
March 13 - Austin, TX @ SXSW
March 14 - Austin, TX @ SXSW
March 15 - Austin, TX @ SXSW
March 18 - Evanston, IL @ S.P.A.C.E.
March 19 - Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre
March 20 - March 23 - Live Oak, FL @ Suwannee Springfest
March 21 - Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage Theater
March 22 - Savannah, GA @ Savannah Music Festival
April 1 - Mobile, AL @ Saenger Theatre
April 2 - Birmingham, AL @ Workplay
April 3 - Meridian, MS @ Riley Center for the Performing Arts
April 4 - Baton Rouge, LA @ Manship Theatre, Shaw Center for the Arts
April 5 - Cut Off, LA @ T Bois Blues Festival
April 7 - Austin, TX @ Texas Union Ballroom
April 8 - Boston, MA @ House of Blues
April 9 - Norwalk, CT @ Concert Hall, Norwalk City Hall
April 10 - Wilmington, DE @ Grand Opera House
April 12 - Washington, DC @ Howard Theatre