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South Memphis String Band - Old Times There

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Quick Overview

Alvin Youngblood Hart, the North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers' Jimbo Mathus and their Southern string band sound.

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Contemporary blues group the South Memphis String Band consist of Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and the Black Crowes, Grammy-winner Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Their debut album, Home Sweet Home, featuring songs by Blind Willie Johnson, Jonny Lee Moore, the Mississippi Sheiks, and A.P. Carter, as well as originals, was released by Memphis International Records on January 19, 2010. ~ William Ruhlmann

The South Memphis String Band is a supergroup of sorts, consisting of Alvin Youngblood Hart, the North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers' Jimbo Mathus, and what they're after is a 19th century Southern string band sound, a sound they certainly achieve. They sound like the string band at a decades-ago Saturday night rent party, not so much re-creating that sound as they are continuing it, and it works for the most part. The problem is that by continuing tradition, one can get fenced in by it, turning into a preservationist instead of bumping tradition forward and adding to it, which is what one sometimes wishes these guys would do. It's interesting that the best tracks here are the truly traditional ones, old string and jug band classics like "Feather Bed," "Skillet Good & Greasy," and "Sandy River Belle" and modified blues classics like Charley Patton's "Some of These Days," while the band's original material like "Stonewall, 1863" comes out sounding transparently facsimile-like next to the traditional fare. There are reasons a song survives generations. Yeah, the South Memphis String Band sounds like a band from eight-some decades ago. That's a neat trick, certainly, and they do it very well, but in a way, it's like cloning a long lost species. It's better, perhaps, to engineer something new on an old strain than it is to simply call it back. Traditional songs are made to withstand and even embrace change, and actually tradition demands such DNA alterations. Otherwise things just get frozen in time. Hopefully that isn't what is going to happen to the South Memphis String Band. -iTunes album review

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Additional Info

Catalog Number MIR2024
Release Date Dec 1, 2015
Artist South Memphis String Band
Record Label Memphis International Records
Music Genre Blues
Explicit Content No
Format CD
Number of Discs 1
Box Lot Quantity 30
Track List
  1. Good Old Rebel
  2. Turnip Greens
  3. Feather Bed
  4. Just Like a Monkey
  5. Some of These Days
  6. Stonewall, 1863
  7. Jimbo Jambo Land
  8. Skillet Good and Greasy
  9. Take This Hammer
  10. Can You Blame the Colored Man?
  11. B-L-A-C-K
  12. See the Uncle Sam
  13. Sandy River Belle
  14. Wildwood Boys
  15. Freedom

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