Those who saw Squirrel Nut Zipper Jimbo Mathus' last two shows at Sapphire have already caught a glimpse of the North Mississippi Allstars: They were the core of his touring ensemble. With "Shake Hands With Shorty," bandleaders Luther and Cody Dickinson (sons of famed producer Jim) unleash one the best debut discs in some time.
Beginning as a reverential tribute to northern Mississippi's blues tradition, the group has honed its sound through extensive touring. Here, the Allstars apply a cut-and-paste approach to the blues that's like hip-hop without the sampling. Within the controlled mess a listener can hear Charlie Patton mingle with Jimi Hendrix, trailed by guitar harmonies that recall the Allman Brothers.
With Cody laying the foundation on drums, Luther emerges as a six-string hero with a true sense of history. Shake hands? The Allstars have thrown down the gauntlet.