Interview with Cody Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars and Hill Country Revue

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Cody Dickinson
Cody Dickinson

Interview by Scott Preston

Cody Dickinson is widely known as the drummer for Grammy nominated Southern Blues/Rock band the North Mississippi Allstars. Cody is also an accomplished guitar player, songwriter and producer. His newest project, Hill Country Revue is getting ready to release their debut record on Razor and Tie Records on May 12. HCR has also received serious airplay on Sirius radio and is currently on tour with the NMA.

Cincy Groove: So I see on this tour you are pulling double duty with the North Mississippi All Stars and Hill Country Revue.

Cody Dickinson: Yeah, last night we played for 4 hours and 15 minutes total between both bands. Hill Country Revue played for about an hour and NMA played for around 3 hours total.

Cincy Groove: How did you end up starting Hill Country Revue?

Cody Dickinson: The NMA took a long break in 2008 and I was unsure what I was going to do. I ended up making myself more busy than I ever had before. I made a conscious decision to keep touring even though the All Stars were on a break. When I formed the band, a lot of people came in and out of the fold at first until it settled into its final lineup.

Cincy Groove: You play drums in the NMA and guitar in Hill Country Revue. Was playing guitar in HCR something you wanted to do?

Cody Dickinson: Well, things just kind of worked out that way. At first I was playing drums in HCR and we were getting ready to leave for a tour with J.J. Grey. We were on our way to Fayetteville and Gary Burnside who was playing guitar couldn’t make it. I was racking my brain who I was going to hire to play second guitar. It was Kirk Smithhart’s idea for me to move to guitar. He said he knew this drummer in Memphis, Eddie “Hot” Cleveland and suggested hiring him and have me move to guitar. So I said ok and never looked back.

Cincy Groove: What is the transition like for you to go from playing guitar in one band to drums in the next?

Cody Dickinson: Its actually more of a challenge than I thought it would be. Basically I’m going out and doing an hour with Hill Country Revue on guitar and then about 2 1/2 – 3 hours on drums with NMA. Its very satisfying, I mean I’m not musically frustrated by any means. We leave all the equipment on stage from HCR’s set so sometimes there are 2 drum kits and triple guitars. Sometimes I’ll alternate between drums and guitar during the NMA set. I would eventually like to get an organ out there as well.

Cincy Groove: How is Hill Country Revue’s debut album coming along?

Cody Dickinson: Things have really been happening for HCR. We formed the band in March of 2008 and started touring in April. Somehow our demo got in the hands of Sirius radio. They started playing it on the Jam On station to the point where it went to #1 and stayed there for a long time. This was with no marketing or promotion at all. JJ Grey took us out on tour and after the first show in New York we ended up getting signed. Razor and Tie Records came out after they originally heard our music on myspace. Our debut album is coming out on May 12, 2009 and its called “Make A Move”.

Cincy Groove: Tell me about the record label, Songs of the South that NMA started.

Cody Dickinson: I guess we have 3 releases out on the label right now. We released Hernando, our last studio record, Boulderado, which is a live performance from a show in Colorado, and the 10 year retrospective, Do It Like We Used To Do. We found ourselves at the end of the 4th studio record and we were free agents. So we just decided it would be the right time to distribute our own stuff.

Cincy Groove: How did the North Mississippi All Stars get together?

Cody Dickinson: We (Luther and I) were playing with a group of musicians from Memphis and Luther had gotten interested in the sound of Hill Country blues. I believe we started playing as the North Mississippi All Stars in 1998. The original bass player ended up quitting because he didn’t want to play blues. Which ended up being a blessing in disguise because that’s when Chris Chew joined. That’s when things started happening for the band.

Cincy Groove: When did you decide music was going to be what you wanted to do in life?

Cody Dickinson: It was when I was a junior in high school, I remember it clearly. I have always played music, so there really was never any doubt about what I was going to do with my life. Luther and I had our first band when I was in kindergarten and Luther was in the 4th grade, we were called the Rebel Airs. We played stuff like Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley. I received my first drum kit when I was 11 and the first song I jammed to was Honky Tonk Women.

Cincy Groove: Who are some of the bands that you like to listen to?

Cody Dickinson: I like MGMT, the Zutons, Amy Winehouse. I also really like the new Umphreys McGee record, Mantis, I have been listening to it over and over again. The Kings of Leon are amazing as well. I guess opening for U2 helps a little (laughing).

North Mississippi All Stars:
LUTHER DICKINSON – Guitar/Vocals (sometimes drums, cigar-box guitar, banjo, mandolin)
CODY DICKINSON – Drums/Washboard (sometimes guitar, piano)
CHRIS CHEW – Bass/Vocals (sometimes lets Luther strum the bass)

Hill Country Revue:
Cody Dickinson – Guitar/Drums/Piano/Washboard
Chris Chew – Bass/Vocals
Ed ‘Hot’ Cleveland – Drums
Daniel Coburn – Vocals/Harp
Kirk Smithhart – Guitar/Vocals

North Mississippi All Stars – Ship

Hill Country Revue – You Can Make It Don’t Give Up

Upcoming North Mississippi All Star tour dates:
for details visit http://www.nmallstars.com
Apr 2 2009 Bijou Theatre Knoxville, Tennessee
Apr 3 2009 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, North Carolina
Apr 4 2009 Ram’s Head Live Annapolis, Maryland
Apr 6 2009 Paradise Rock Club Boston, Massachusetts
Apr 7 2009 Higher Ground Burlington, Vermont
Apr 8 2009 Revolution Hall Troy, New York
Apr 9 2009 Highline Ballroom New York, New York
Apr 10 2009 State Theatre Falls Church, Virginia
Apr 11 2009 Theatre of Living Arts (Club) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Apr 14 2009 Chameleon Club Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Apr 15 2009 Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale, PA
Apr 16 2009 Appalachian State Theatre Boone, NC
Apr 17 2009 Georgia Theatre Athens, Georgia
Apr 18 2009 Amphitheatre at the Wharf Orange Beach, Alabama
Apr 19 2009 SwampMeat 3 : The Hangout Orange Beach

Hill Country Revue tour dates:
for more details visit http://www.myspace.com/hillcountryrevue
Apr 2 2009 Bijou Theatre Knoxville, Tennessee
Apr 3 2009 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, North Carolina
Apr 4 2009 Ram’s Head Live Baltimore, Maryland
Apr 6 2009 Paradise Rock Club Boston, Massachusetts
Apr 7 2009 Higher Ground Burlington, Vermont
Apr 8 2009 Revolution Hall Troy, New York
Apr 9 2009 Highline Ballroom New York, New York
Apr 10 2009 State Theatre Falls Church, Virginia
Apr 11 2009 Theatre of Living Arts (Club) Philadelphia
Apr 14 2009 Chameleon Club Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Apr 15 2009 Mr. Small’s Theatre Millvale, PA
Apr 16 2009 Appalachian State University Boone, North Carolina
Apr 17 2009 Georgia Theatre Athens, Georgia
Apr 18 2009 Amphitheatre at the Wharf Orange Beach, Alabama
Apr 19 2009 SwampMeat 3 Orange Beach, Alabama
Apr 24 2009 Backbeat Jazzfest Series – The Republic New Orleans, Louisiana
May 2 2009 George’s Majestic Lounge Fayetteville, Arkansas
May 16 2009 Batesville Springfest Batesville, Mississippi
May 23 2009 Summer Camp Fest Chillicothe, Illinois
May 30 2009 The Jewish Mother Virginia Beach
Jun 5 2009 Wanee Festival Live Oak, Florida
Jun 27 2009 North MS Hill Country Picnic Potts Camp, Mississippi
Jul 5 2009 Rothbury Music Fest Rothbury, Michigan
Jul 10 2009 All Good Music Festival Masontown, West Virginia
Jul 31 2009 Verizon Wireless Center – w/ Dave Matthews Band Noblesville, Indiana
Aug 1 2009 Verizon Wireless Center – w/ Dave Matthews Band Noblesville, Indiana