The genesis of the New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Riders recordings was on a Charlie Musselwhite / Mavis Staples tour bus. The North Mississippi All-Stars were the backing band on the tour; and, while on route, Luther Dickinson of The All-Stars and Musselwhite hatched a plan to record together along with a few friends.
Joining Luther, Cody Dickinson, and Musselwhite in the studio were: multi-instrumentalist and Handy Award winner Alvin Youngblood Hart, Squirrel Nut Zippers leader Jimbo Mathis, and eccentric producer (and father), Jim Dickinson on keys. The primarily live, off-the-floor sessions – that took place at Jim Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch Studios in Coldwater Mississippi – were recorded in November 2007 over the course of 2 days. The result was 2 discs: New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Riders Volumes 1 and 2.
Like Vol. 1, Vol. 2 is a joyous, raucous affair where all members contribute songs to the proceedings. The recording is raw and loose, has a demo like feel, and was obviously a lot of fun to record. On a mix of Blues / Roots/ Americana selections, all get a chance in the spotlight with Musselwhite and the elder Dickinson the stars of the set.
Musselwhite kicks off the disc with “Blues For Yesterday” from his 2006 release Delta Hardware, and his stylish harp is prominent throughout. (Of note is his soloing on the Luther Dickinson instrumental showcase “Blue Guitar”). Jim Dickinson distinguishes himself on 4 well-chosen covers including the song that best exemplifies the spirit of the comradery apparent on the session, a boozy rendition of Charles Mingus’ “Oh Lord Don’t Let Them Drop That Atom Bomb on Me”.
Suffice to say that this is good time music that will bring a smile to your face in these difficult times. (Rico Ferrara).