Magic Music For Family Folk comes out November 17th on New West Records
As the son of legendary producer and session musician Jim Dickinson, Luther Dickinson grew up in a house that spilled over with music.
And on his new solo album, Magic Music For Family Folk, the North Mississippi Allstars frontman pays homage to his sonic childhood with joyful renditions of songs he was raised on by The Meters, Staple Singers, John Lee Hooker, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson and more.
“This collection of my childhood favorites was recorded for fun, at home, with family and friends, in the spirit of sharing,” explains Dickinson. “As a new father, I needed music that my family and friends could enjoy that’s also suited to my funky taste and organic, acoustic aesthetic. Having daughters altered my listening habits and it was hard to find records that we all liked, so I had to make one.”
The 11-song set was produced by Dickinson and mixed by Jeff Powell at Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, TN and by Kevin Houston at the Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch Studios in Coldwater, MS. The album also includes guests Yola, Allison Russell, Lillie Mae, Sharde Thomas, Sharisse Norman, as well as Dickinson’s mother and two daughters.
A good majority of the material was recorded in 2017, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it feels as though it was conceived during another time altogether. The togetherness conveyed on the album, according to Dickinson, can be attributed to creating these songs “during dinner parties, sleepovers, and play dates either in a social setting. I wanted to expose my kids to the joy of recording music. So we would invite friends over to the house and record, family style. Everyone is welcome.”
However, it was only until this year did Luther dig out the rough mix CDs he burned of the sessions for family car rides, believing the time was right to revive the project.
“When it comes to art or music, the perspective of time can’t be bought or faked,” he said in a press statement. “This record definitely benefited from fresh ears, as well as techniques and sounds I had developed over the years doing production and film scores.”
The first single off the new LP “Are You Sure,” featuring Sharde Thomas and Sharisse Norman and popularized by The Staple Singers on 1972’s Be Altitude: Respect Yourself.
“Mavis Staples and The Staple Singers have been an influential force in our family,” he says. “They set an example of love and togetherness for all, inspiring three generations of my family. The melody and message of ‘Are You Sure’ resonates with my intention behind recording Magic Music for Family Folk.”
VIDEO: The Staple Singers “Are You Sure”
You can check out Luther’s version of “Are You Sure” below.
Meanwhile, some of the real throwbacks on here from the early 20th century were passed down to him from daddy Jim.
“My father learned ‘Old Blue,’ ‘Turkey in the Straw,’ and ‘Old Hen’ from his friends and teachers, Memphis musicians Furry Lewis and Gus Cannon,” Dickinson reveals. “Passing his songs down to a fourth generation felt magical and inspired the title.”
Magic Music closes with “Whatever River,” Dickinson’s sole original written for these sessions.
“I wrote ‘Whatever River’ for my daughters as a possible portal of companionship — in case they ever miss me in the future,” he explains. “It’s my personal belief and practice that music is a realm in which one can commune with loved ones, transcending time and space. Therein lies The Magic Of Music for Family Folk.”
Magic Music for Family Folk will be available on November 17th via Antone’s Records / New West Records.
Luther Dickinson Magic Music for Family Folk Track Listing:
- Are You Sure
- They All Ask’d For You
- Old Blue
- Beulah Land
- Old Hen
- Turkey In The Straw
- Boom Boom
- Pay Day
- Whatever River
AUDIO: Luther Dickinson “Are You Sure”