by Amy Harris
91 days ago
Raw Blues maker plays with North Mississippi Allstars tonight at Southgate House Revival
Lightnin’ Malcolm is an emerging driving force in the genre of underground Blues as
a member of the North Mississippi All-Stars and also as a solo artist.
Alongside counterpart Carl Gentle White aka "Stud" on drums, the
dichotomy of their two styles produces a rough, soulful sound that
reminds folks of Blues legends like Lightnin' Hopkins and Howlin' Wolf.
Audiences should be prepared to dance, party and delight in Malcolm’s
deep Mississippi sounds tonight at the Southgate House Revival. Malcolm
is opening for and playing alongside the North Mississippi All-Stars.
Showtime is 8 p.m.
CityBeat: I know you have an album coming out on Sept. 10. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
Lightnin' Malcolm: Well, it is 14 original songs
and they have quite a few different styles on them. It is all based on
my style, which is based on the hard driving, raw boogie North
Mississippi Hill Country style. It is mostly (the) guitar and drums duo
but we add some horns on a few tracks. We have Luther Dickinson playing
slide on a few songs. So it is a pretty good mix of stuff.
CB: I was listening to some of it this week. I love “My Life is a Wreck.” Can you tell me the story behind that song?
LM: Well, that is a semi-autobiographical piece.
One of my greatest influences was T Model Ford and he recently passed
and that song was based on a style he had on the guitar. His grandson
Stud is playing drums with me now. That was the first song we did in the
studio. That was his first song recording and I thought it was a great
way to feature it. My music depends on a great drummer. Drums are so
important to the music and he is one of the best. I have known Stud
since he was like 1 years old. He grew up watching me play drums with
his granddad. He knows the style of drums that I like, the raw, four on
the floor, predator style, no messing around. Just raw and making people
dance. By us knowing each other so long, he is like my little baby
brother. We have this chemistry together that works so well.
CB: I watched some videos of you two playing together. It is super high energy and looks like a lot of fun.
LM: Yeah, that is the key to it all. We don’t have
to hit a note exactly right or (do flashy) guitar solos. We just try to
create as much … fun for the people as we can. We just want to see
people party and have fun.
CB: How old were you when you picked up your first guitar?
LM: I was about 10 or 12. Before that, I really
wanted to be a drummer. I used to beat on buckets and pots and pans, put
the radio on and play along with them. I didn’t have any actual drums
and I finally got a hold of a little piece of guitar. I didn’t know how
to tune it or nothing, but I fell in love with the strings in my hand.
It took a while to learn how to tune it because I didn’t have anybody
around me to show me at that time. Once I learned how to tune it, I
started learning pretty fast. It just became everything to me. I look at
the guitar like some people look at The Bible. It is like a
vehicle for something later. I leave Earth. I can go on a vacation in my
backyard with a guitar. I can escape to a whole other world with it.
CB: I know you eventually moved to
Mississippi after growing up in Missouri. How did you hook up with some
of these great guitar and Blues players in Mississippi?
LM: I just made friends with them. They saw
something special in me, I think. I wasn’t trying to blow them off
stage. I didn’t ask them many questions, like how to do things. They
noticed whatever they played, I could play back. They hadn’t seen too
many white guys, or any guys, that could do that. So we just made
friends. It was pretty easy. Those were the kind of guys I wanted to be
around. They really took me in. They were really nice to me. They never
said I wouldn’t be able to do it. There was everybody else saying, “You
won’t be able to do it.” They were the guys saying, “You got it. Stick
CB: Alive or dead, what one person would you want to collaborate with if you could?
LM: That’s a good question. I think, you know
what’s funny, there are a lot of people outside of the Blues I’d like to
collaborate with nowadays. Of course, like, John Lee Hooker is one of
my all time favorites, Howlin' Wolf, there are so many Blues guys. Out
of living artists, I’ll tell you a guy I love right now, two guys I
love, they are more like R&B. (One is an) artist named Lyfe
Jennings, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him, he’s fucking
awesome, he’s so sincere. Another guy is Anthony Hamilton who is a Soul
singer. To me, even though their style is way different than mine, those
are guys I really hear singing where I’m like, "Wow, they really hit
the ceiling." You don’t hear it that much anymore. Everybody is using
effects. You really don’t hear that wail in that voice. Otis Redding had
that, you heard his voice and you just had to see him. You don’t hear
anybody like that anymore. I know people wouldn’t expect that from me,
but when I am riding down the highway listening to music, those are two
guys I really listen to, that I look up to and would be great to
CB: That leads me into another question.
There has been so much publicity recently around Pop music with Miley
Cyrus and the VMAs. To me it shows how much more important it is to keep
really authentic Blues music in front of people. What are your thoughts
LM: I agree with that. I’m out here fighting the
good fight doing what I can. It’s not always easy. People have to
support what is going on. If people start throwing their money at
garbage, you’re going to end up with a lot of garbage. I can’t speak for
the next person but I can say this — there isn’t enough hours in the
day to listen to great music. There is all the great music you can
listen to. There is definitely no time for nonsense. I don’t waste time
listening to stuff that sounds like garbage. That’s just me.
My drummer, Stud, he’s young. He was watching the awards
the other night and I was laying on the couch trying to sleep. I didn’t
miss much. The hours in the day are precious. I would use them wisely.
You don’t have to listen to garbage. That’s about the best I can do. If
anybody can make some money doing something, good for you, I don’t mean
it the wrong way. If you ask me about serious music, there is great
music out there being made. It is just underground. Maybe it is too real
for people. I am not the expert on this type of thing, I just know what
I like, I listen to what I like. Even when I was a kid in school, I was
listening to way different music. I was listening to Lightnin' Hopkins
and John Lee Hooker and would tell the other kids, “You have got to hear
this. Check it out.” They just said, “Whatever.” I thought maybe when
they grew up they would understand.
CB: What can the fans expect from you guys at the Southgate House Revival show?
LM: We are coming to rock y’all. We want y’all to
come and have fun and dance and boogie. We want you to get in the groove
and forget about everything in the outside world for a couple hours and
get in the zone. We want to have a party for y’all. Being on stage can
be the funnest thing in the world when it is going right. When it is
going wrong, you just want to disappear. It is a funny thing. When it is
right, it is right as a motherfucker.
by Mike Breen
Local Psych Pop/Rock trio Buffalo Killers are set to hit the road this fall for a tour with another crtitically-beloved trio — bluesy rockers North Mississippi Allstars. The BKs will be traveling from Colorado to Minneapolis (plus several dates in between) before returning to Cincinnati on Nov. 19 for a free show at MOTR Pub with Seattle's Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, Psych faves who've worked with two acts that show the extremes of modern psychedelia — Black Mountain and Earth — and feature guitarist Phil Wandscher, the co-founder of Whiskeytown with Ryan Adams. The Buffalo Killers' 3 has received some wildly impressive press so far, with stamps of approval from outlets like Uncut and The Seattle Times. Check out a sampling of the group's recent press praise below, as well as the video for the title track off the group's last album, Let It Ride. Click here to listen to the great 3 track, "Love Is Gold," which sounds like a lost Big Star/Neil Young collaboration. Read (and hear) more from the BKs here.