Hill Country Revue – Mercury Lounge – May 27, 2009

May 28th, 2009
(Photo: Todd Roeth)

(Photo: Todd Roeth)

Last year Cody Dickinson and Chris Chew, the North Mississippi Allstars drummer and bassist, respectively, joined Ed “Hot” Cleveland, Daniel Coburn and Kirk Smithhart to form the side project Hill Country Revue. Following several small-club tours and stints as an opening act, the band put its bluesy brand of Southern rock on record—Make a Move, released just two weeks ago.

But last night at Mercury Lounge, Hill Country Revue proved they are more than just Southern rockers. The band fluidly segued between roots rock, gritty blues and smooth R&B. Chew sang lead on the slow-building cover of Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” prompting audience members to dance happily. And on the next song, when the Coburn sang, “Shake that ass side to side,” the crowd enthusiastically continued.

It’s worth mentioning that while Dickinson plays drums in NMA and the Word (his brother, Luther, expertly plays guitar for those bands), his work with the Revue has revealed him to be one hell of a guitarist (that is when he isn’t playing the electric washboard). He and Kirk Smithhart had a jammy guitar interplay throughout the show. And combined with Chew’s heavy—yet somehow subtle—bass lines, the three of them covered a fair amount of territory, from dark Little Feat grooves to a simmering cover of the Meters’ “Cissy Strut” to the upbeat “You Can Make It.” While their music may come from Hill Country, it definitely appeals to all. —R. Zizmor