For Luther Dickinson, writing about tough times isn’t easy, but it is one way to make great music. Dickinson is the vocalist and guitarist of North Mississippi Allstars, a Southern roots rock group with a long legacy and large fan following. The band will headline EdFest, the local craft beer and music festival in Edwards today. Like their name suggests, North Mississippi Allstars are heavily influenced by their home state, and the hard life that many in the deep south experience.
“It’s the home of the blues,” Dickinson said. “Mississippi, it’s a rough place. I guess people use music as an escape to try and find a way out.”
‘MODERN MUSIC OUT OF AN ANCIENT MELODY’
Dickinson might be more inspired by hardscrabble moments than happy ones, but more than anything he’s interested in fusing old-school soul into tunes that make you want to move.
“A large part of what we do is incorporate traditional music into a new aesthetic,” Dickinson said. “We just love working within the roots music vernacular and making danceable modern music out of an ancient melody and rhythm.”
Dickinson formed North Mississippi Allstars in 1996 with his brother, Cody. The sons of Memphis record producer Jim Dickinson, the brothers have music in their blood and a bond that’s hard to break, even if sometimes they wish they could.
“(Working with my brother) in a lot of ways is telepathic and unspoken and the music comes really easy,” Dickinson said. “But of course it’s stressful in other ways. The payoff is no matter what, you can always keep the band together, you know that (at least) two of us will be at the show.”
This will be the first time in three years the band has played in Colorado, and six years since they took to the stage locally. Dickinson said he loves playing in Colorado because the jam band scene is still celebrated and going strong.
“It’s one of the best audiences in America,” Dickinson said. “It’s fun because (people in Colorado) like live music. It’s like New Orleans or San Francisco or Chicago, it’s a great musical environment because of the people.”
BIGGER BANDS, MORE BREWS
It’s difficult to determine who’s more excited for the show today, North Mississippi Allstars themselves or the fans. Marisa Selvy, co-owner of Crazy Mountain Brewery and festival director for EdFest, said getting the band to headline was big coup for the festival, only in its fourth year.
“We’re just really thrilled,” Selvy said. “A lot of people are impressed that we’re able to book them on our own. Normally you have to book through a promoter or an agent. All we did was pick up the phone and called their managers. I like their vibe. It’s danceable music that attracts a fun crowd, but not a crazy EDM crowd.”
The band is not the only thing that’s bigger at EdFest this year. Originally held in the Crazy Mountain Brewery parking lot, EdFest will spread to the soccer field at Freedom Park and have 64 breweries, compared to 32 last year. In addition to all the cool brews, EdFest will also incorporate local craft spirits, including the new Parce Rum and Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. Selvy said the festival has grown just as rapidly as the craft beer craze itself.
“People are becoming a little more educated with how they drink and what they drink,” Selvy said. “Instead of getting the cheapest beer, they look at the menu and see that a beer was made in a small batch from a (craft brewery). People like that craft beer has finer ingredients.”
A FESTIVAL THAT SELLS ITSELF
Selvy said the current trend in craft brews are session beers, which are five percent alcohol by volume or less.
“Craft beers are (normally) really high in alcohol,” Selvy said. “With session beers you can have a long drinking ‘session,’ and just hang out without getting too drunk so quickly.”
Selvy said festival-goers should keep their eye out for quite a few rare European brews, which aren’t sold anywhere locally. With more than 60 breweries, the festival is designed for craft brew lovers looking to try something new.
“I bet you there’s not going to be a single person who’s already tried every single beer we have,” Selvy said.
Personally, Selvy is pumped for opening band Laughing Bones, who will be reuniting just for EdFest.
“When I first moved here they were my favorite band in the valley,” Selvy said. “We said, ‘We’d love it if you would get back together and play (for the festival)’. They have such a unique Americana sound.”
Kate Kingsbery, event coordinator at Great Divide Brewing Co. in Denver, said what makes EdFest better than other craft beer festivals is it’s run by an actual brewing company, who know how to craft not only good brews but a great atmosphere. A big fan of North Mississippi Allstars who’s seen them perform live several times, Kingsbery said the festival is a can’t miss for both beer and music fans.
“(At EdFest) you have craft beer, music and hanging out with a bunch of brewers,” Kingsbery said. “That sells itself.”
Both brewers and musicians will be crafting something made from the heart at the festival.
“For me personally, (performing) is about how to rise to the occasion, how to conjure up a special moment and then extend that moment,” Dickinson said. “It’s about making a shared feeling with the audience.”
Head down to Edwards to share a beer, craft a musical memory and savor the last drops of summertime, before they’re gone for good.