Sharde Thomas performs in the Voices of Mississippi program at the Strathmore Music Center on Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
The roots of American music lie in the deep South. In a recent performance and presentation at the Strathmore Music Center, a fantastic program called Voices of Mississippi explored these roots through musical performances and photography and video footage compiled by William Ferris. Based on a 2018 boxed set of the same title that won Grammy Awards for Best Historical Album and Best Liner Notes, this long-gestating live show finally made its way to our area, and it didn’t disappoint.
Musicians included some of the most prominent names in the blues. Guitarist Luther and drummer Cody Dickinson form the core of the North Mississippi Allstars. Ferris introduced the brothers as sons of one of his musical heroes, Jim Dickinson, a larger-than-life figure who worked as a producer, helming albums for Big Star and many others, and who played piano on the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.” Luther and Cody are deeply indebted to the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues tradition; Luther singled out the influence of Junior Kimbrough and mentioned how the tradition is being kept alive by Cedric Burnside, the grandson of legendary bluesman R. L. Burnside.