This is the second volume of fine blues and roots music from a gathering of musicians in 2007, jamming just for fun, and who gave themselves one of the best band names since the “? and the Mysterians.”
I’m talking, of course, about the New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers, who, after the music simmered about 14 years until it was good and tasty, released Volume 1 last September.
Now, Volume 2 of that sparkling, creative music has dropped from Stony Plain Records. It’s just as fine. These are not warmed-up leftovers, these are tracks cut from the original cloth of their musical sessions.
The musicians, a generation-spanning group musicians, are Grammy-winning harpist Charlie Musselwhite, guitarist Alvin Youngblood Hart, ex Squirrel Nut Zippers’ frontman Jimbo Mathus, the late Jim Dickinson and North Mississippi Allstars members Luther Dickinson and Cody Dickinson (Jim Dickinson’s sons and recent Grammy nominees).
Their music is as fresh as it is timeless; moving from the pure down-home blues of Musselwhite’s laconic “Blues for Yesterday” to 1965’s rockish “She’s About a Mover,” from Doug Sahm and the Sir Douglas Quintet and given new life here by Hart.
Mathus puts together a strong, straight-ahead blues on “Searchlight,” and Jim Dickinson gets deep and rootsy with “Blues Is A Mighty Bad Feeling.” He also adds some blues classics on Junior Wells’ “Messin’ with the Kid” and Jimmy Reed’s “Can’t Stand to See You Go.” And of course, there are more, just waiting for your ears to listen up.
But these guys are not a cover band, and they’re not just bluesy impressionists. They’re bringing their own considerable strengths and musical visions into the mix, churning out fresh and original takes on timeless music.
Even though these recordings took place in 2007, Jim Dickinson’s death in 2009 put the production into limbo, and it was basically forgotten until 2019 when Stony Plain founder Holger Petersen heard about the sessions from Musselwhite, and turned over the production to Luther Dickinson and his engineer Kevin Houston, who finished the project.
This is good music-making at its best — full of energy and spontaneity. Put both volumes together for double the fun.
Here’s the opening track, “Blues for Yesterday,” by Charlie Musselwhite:
Here’s the tracklist:
1. Blues for Yesterday (featuring Charlie Musselwhite)
2. She’s About a Mover (featuring Alvin Youngblood Hart)
3. Searchlight (featuring Jimbo Mathus)
4. Oh Lord, Don’t Let Them Drop That Atom Bomb on Me (featuring Jim Dickinson)
5. Greens and Ham (featuring Jimbo Mathus)
6. Messin’ with the Kid (featuring Jim Dickinson)
7. Black Water (featuring Charlie Musselwhite)
8. Millionaire Blues (featuring Alvin Youngblood Hart)
9. Can’t Stand to See You Go (featuring Jim Dickinson)
10. Blue Guitar (featuring Luther Dickinson)
11. Blues Is a Mighty Bad Feeling (featuring Jim Dickinson)