Hill Country Revue Reviewed

October 27th, 2010

Hill Country Revue – Mercury Lounge – October 26, 2010

Hill Country Revue has a new album and a new lineup. The blues-rock outfit initially began as a side project for the North Mississippi Allstars’ Cody Dickinson and Chris Chew while that band’s third member, Luther Dickinson, plays lead guitar on Black Crowes tour. Despite serving as the drummer in NMA, with Hill Country Dickinson plays a mean guitar. Chew, however, is now gone, and despite missing his heft, the band loses none of his thunder in replacement Doc Samba. New drummer Dave Mason completes a thumping rhythm section, and Kirk Smithhart (guitar) and Dan Coburn (vocals and occasionally harmonica) round out the group’s tight sound.

Last night, Hill Country Revue hosted a record-release party at Mercury Lounge to celebrate their terrific new disc, Zebra Ranch, a winning mix of roots, blues, rock and Americana. The show began with “Raise Your Right Hand,” but the recorded material seems to be a starting point because the music, played live, was expanded upon and stretched out. With the guitarists going back and forth—Dickinson’s eyes closed, mouth open, fingers flying—the second song, “Chalk It Up,” settled into such a deep baby-making groove that two couples up front began grinding hard, seemingly unfazed by their surroundings.

Hill Country Revue played the album, filled with makes-you-want-to-move music, in sequential order, doing fine justice to “Going Down,” written by Don Nix, but brought to the forefront by Freddie King. (Although it’s now perhaps best known as the theme song to Eastbound and Down.) The set closed with another cover, the Stones’ “Wild Horses.” Coburn dedicated the song to Dickinson’s producer father, Jim, who passed away last year. Jim Dickinson, who owned a recording studio called Zebra Ranch, played piano on the original version of the song. (Cody played piano on it last night.) Following the album’s conclusion, the band signed CDs and had a few drinks before getting back onstage to finish the night. —R. Zizmor