MUSIC BOX: Standout Synergy

By on January 12, 2016

Musical luminaries come together for a onetime performance that promises to be one of the most memorable shows this year.

Luther Dickinson (left), joins Robert Randolph (right), along with Rich Robinson and Ivan Neville for a historic performance Friday at Center for the Arts.

Luther Dickinson (left), joins Robert Randolph (right), along with Rich Robinson and Ivan Neville for a historic performance Friday at Center for the Arts.

Jackson, WY – It’s audacious to call this Friday’s concert—billed as an evening with Luther Dickinson, Rich Robinson, Ivan Neville and Robert Randolph—as a standout of the year. It’s only mid-January, and there are 11 and a half months left to go. But when you take into consideration the Dickinson-led North Mississippi Osborne set at the recent Fireman’s Ball, or Randolph’s crushing set at JacksonHoleLive, or better yet, the fact that this is a rare one-off collaboration of high-caliber musicians who have never shared the same stage as a unit, you realize that statement isn’t so crazy.

Don’t assume the typical concert experience, either. Much of the magic will be made on the spot with reciprocating vibes determining the next variation.

“Shannon [McCormick, programming director at Center for the Arts] saw Southern Soul Assembly—which is JJ Grey, Marc Broussard, Anders Osborne and myself—which actually inspired this show we’re doing in Jackson Hole,” explained Dickinson. “So Shannon and I got to talking, and he was like, ‘Man, let’s do something like that.’ So we kept poking around to get the right lineup. I’ve played with all of the cats on this bill in different incarnations but never together. So with this type of scene everybody takes turns playing their tunes, so different cats might fill-in or might not. It’s not like a full band.

“What I’ve found with Southern Soul Assembly is that you can practice and prepare and teach each other songs, but soon as the show gets going it all goes out the window. The domino effect sort of determines the flow of the show. You might think you know what you’re going to do, but once you have to follow the other guy and follow the mood, change the mood, react to the mood … it’s a fun interactive type of format. I try to stay in the moment. I don’t even like making setlists before the day of the show. It’s awkward to me to predetermine what the show’s going to be before you feel out how it’s going to roll, see what the venue is like, or what dinner was like, or what the crowd’s like.”

Dickinson has been active outside of the North Mississippi Allstars (which earned a Grammy nomination in 2000) in recent years, including a stint with The Black Crowes, The Word and the South Memphis String Band. It’s his solo career, however, that has really come into focus of late, including 2014’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Blues” and his fifth studio album, which is on deck for release early next month, the double-LP “Blues & Ballads, A Folksinger’s Songbook: Volumes I & II.”

On stage with Dickinson will be guitarist/singer-songwriter Rich Robinson, who is the brother of Chris Robinson and a founding member of The Black Crowes. Before and after the latest Crowes’ breakup, Robinson took singing lessons, built a home studio and released “The Ceaseless Sight” (2014), which is described by David Fricke, of Rolling Stone, as “the bull’s-eye, so rich in textures and assured in the writing that it sounds like a true debut.”

Like Dickinson, keyboardist/vocalist Ivan Neville — part of the famous musical Neville family — will be flying into Jackson fresh off the 14th Annual Jam Cruise. Masterful pedal steel player and multi-instrumentalist Robert Randolph rounds out the group, appearing just days before touring the East Coast later this month with his band.

This show could be one for the ages.

An Evening with Luther Dickinson, Rich Robinson, Ivan Neville and Robert Randolph, 7 p.m. Friday at the Center Theater. $71-$81. JHCenterForTheArts.org, 733-1500. PJH

Aaron Davis is a songwriting troubadour, multi-instrumentalist, founding member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, and host of Songwriter’s Alley.

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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