New releases on the opposite ends of the spectrum are the M.O. for this week’s Ear Bliss. The North Mississippi All-Stars, more often than not, fall into the jam band category. With a sound so nestled in their native Mississippi, such classification is borderline shameful. Those roots are on full display on the new album World Boogie is Coming. On the flip side, we have Glen Campbell. Campbell’s career began as a member of the legendary L.A. session band, The Wrecking Crew. It was his guitar-playing that was his entry point into the music business, but we all know that he went onto a career much greater than just guitar player. In mid-2011, Campbell announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He would proceed to embark on a farewell mission which included a final tour and now his new release which is likely to be the swan song of his recording career. Let’s take a look.
North Mississippi All-Stars
World Boogie is Coming
Songs of the South Records
On their seventh studio album titled World Boogie is Coming, the North Mississippi All-Stars peg it in the Mississippi Hill Country sounds they grew up with and keep it right there. Bluesy, rockin’, jammy, primitive at times and flat-out boogie chillin’ at others, this rural funk fest of a roots record is plenty impressive. The term “World boogie is coming” can be traced back to the late Memphis jack-of-all-trades of all things music, Jim Dickinso,n who played with everyone from Dylan to Aretha to the Stones and produced everyone from the Replacements to Big Star to Mudhoney. You could find the phrase on all of the elder Dickinson’s late career solo releases. It’s all about the groove and his legacy, that being sons Luther and Cody, who have been spearheading the NMAs from the outset, have learned it well. Recorded at the Zebra Ranch Studios in Hernando, MS, a studio built and operated by their dad, the songs span originals that push the sonic boundaries of past endeavors to reworkings of traditional chants, fife and drum, blues guitar benders and stompin’ boogie rockers, and all with endless amounts of rhythm. We’re talking works from the likes of departed blues icons such as Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Otha Turner, Bukka White, Willie Dixon, and Sleepy John Estes. In addition to a guest appearance by Robert Plant, the brothers are joined by a cast of thousands from their stomping grounds including Duwayne and Garry Burnside (children of late blues great R.L. Burnside), guitarist Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sharde Thomas (granddaughter of late Mississippi fife & drum legend Otha Turner), ex-NMA member Chris Chew, Lightnin’ Malcolm, and Sid and Steve Selvidge. The sum total sees the NMAs cruise their way through 17 tracks readymade for letting loose and getting your groove on. Plain and simple, World Boogie is Coming is country music, Mississippi Hill Country-style.
See You There
For fans, when Glen Campbell made his announcement just over two years ago that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it was crushing blow. Whereas there were some fracases with the law in recent years, Campbell in the time leading up to the diagnosis had gotten back into the limelight displaying the talent that got him to the pop pinnacle in the first place. It’s hard not to view his new release titled See You There with a heavy heart. One certainly cannot tell anything by his performance, but it is sad. Fittingly, the 12-song affair dives heavily into the timeless tunes that Campbell will forever be associated. The album is heavy with re-cut versions featuring new Campbell vocals on many of the staples that to this day stop people in their tracks and incite the flashbacks when they hear them. If this is truly the swan song, See You There is played to perfection. With entirely complimentary accompaniment, Campbell is in excellent voice on a retrospective journey that takes the listener through all the treetops from “Wichita Lineman” to “Gentle on My Mind” to “Galveston” to “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” to “True Grit” to “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Visit www.glencampbellmusic.com  or wwww.surfdog.com.
Label it an “Ocean State legends night” at The Knickerbocker Café in Westerly (35 Railroad Ave, Westerly) on Friday night as they present a twin bill featuring the Duke Robillard Band and Greg Piccolo & Heavy Juice. Music starts at 8 pm. That same evening, the singer/songwriter Jolie Holland performs at The Columbus Theater in Providence (270 Broadway). Doors are at 8 and music begins at 9.
Also on Friday night, The Ocean Mist (895 Matunuck Beach Rd, Matunuck) presents the hip hop sounds of Phokus. It’s also a CD release party for the artist’s new release. The party starts at 9 pm. The following evening, Saturday, Jimkata brings its song-oriented electro-rock to The Mist starting at 9.
The Commence Fence Music Series continues it Fall series this Saturday with an appearance by acclaimed singer/songwriter Lori McKenna. McKenna’s songs have been covered by the likes of Faith Hill and Sara Evans, among others, and she is a charmer in concert. The Common Fence Point Community Hall is located at 933 Anthony Road in Portsmouth. Show time is 8 pm.
The Music at Lilypads (Unitarian Universalist Church, 27 North Road, Peace Dale) offers two shows this coming weekend. On Saturday night, Brooklyn-based band The Sweetback Sisters bring their citified country sounds to town. Doors are at 7 and music starts at 7:30 pm. The following afternoon, the Janusz Prusinowski Trio from Poland who blend the traditional and modern sounds of their land, also mixing in dance, take the stage at 3 pm.
Being the fifth Sunday of the month, it means all-star bluegrass band Southern Rhode takes the stage at the Wood River Inn in Richmond (1193 Main Street) with music beginning at the very kind hour of 6 pm.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3.)