LITTLE ROCK Mississippi and London have much in common or shared, at least musically. So says a member of The London Souls, a band that’s been opening shows all month for the North Mississippi Allstars.
But these souls are from New York, it turns out.
“We sort of liked the idea that the whole British Invasion sound from the 1960s came about from bands who were influenced by American blues artists,” says Tash Neal, guitarist and singer in the two-man London Souls, whose other member is Chris St. Hilaire on drums and vocals. “We thought that was interesting during the time thatwe were deciding on a name for what we do.”
And what it was that Neal and Hilaire were doing was a bit on the odd side, as they were rehearsing together via cell phones for a time before actually working together in person. They had met when they both had belonged to the same small circle of friends. Both enjoyed the music of Led Zeppelin, Cream and The Beatles, among others from the 1960s.
The two men released a debut, self-titled album in July 2011, and recently followed up with a second disc, Here Come the Girls, on Jan. 8.
It was during a tour with The Black Crowes that they met the North Mississippi Allstars, also essentially atwo-man band. And like the Allstars, the London Souls take a bassist along to augment their sound.
“After the tour ends in Little Rock, we’ll keep playing our own gigs,” Neal says. “And then we’ll be going out on the Kid Rock Cruise onMarch 6. But it’s not on the Carnival cruise line.”
The tour began Feb. 1 and ends with the Little Rock show Saturday night at the Revolution Room. The North Mississippi Allstars are, of course, no strangers to central Arkansas, having done more than a couple of shows here. And had things turned out differently, the band might have been named the Central Arkansas All Stars, since the father of the band’s Luther and Cody Dickinson, legendary producer Jim Dickinson, was born in Little Rock but moved to Memphis at an early age, later taking his family to the Memphis suburbs of north Mississippi.
The Allstars are on tour, road testing new songs thatwill be on an album of hill country blues-infused rock ’n’ roll, to be released this spring. The band has been recording and touring for more than 15 years, releasing a dozen albums along the way.
In 2008, the Dickinsons branched out to pursue other projects, with singer/guitarist Luther teaming up with Jimbo Mathus and Alvin Youngblood Hart to form the South Memphis String Band, which has toured the country and released two albums. In 2012, Luther Dickinson also formed another band, The Wandering, a folk band featuring Shannon McNally, Amy La-Vere, Valerie June and Sharde Thomas, who is the granddaughter of Otha Turner, one of the founding fathers of thenorth Mississippi blues scene. The Wandering released a debut album, Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here.
Dickinson also recorded and released a solo acoustic album, Hambone’s Meditations, a recent Grammy nominee for Best Folk Album.
Meanwhile, drummer brother Cody Dickinson has delved into movie soundtrack work, contributing to Black Snake Moan and Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror. He has produced albums by Lucero, Les Claypool and Cisco Adler, along with the two latest albums by British blues guitarist Ian Siegal.
Bassist Lightnin’ Malcolm has joined the Allstars’ current tour.
North Mississippi Allstars
Opening act: The London
9 p.m. Saturday, Revolution
Room, 300 President Clin
ton Ave., Little Rock