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December 2014 Relix Magazine Sampler: Rubblebucket - My Life
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North Mississippi Allstars: Boogie Knights

by Alan Paul on March 19, 2014
On this evening as the Allstars’ performance nears, Malcolm is onstage as the opening act, playing a duo show with teenage drummer Stud, the grandson of T-Model Ford, who is also responsible for his name. Meanwhile, as Cody paces around and stretches, Luther reclines in the bunk of their bus with a Moleskine notebook in hand, poring through the pages, reading and making notes.

“This goes back to ‘08 and has every setlist we’ve played,” he says. “When I’m putting together a setlist, we never want to repeat songs we played last time in a place.”

The brothers are growing more quiet and contemplative as show time draws nearer, until Malcolm and Stud bound back on the bus. When seen up close, Stud’s youth is disarming. When asked how old he is, he quickly answers, “Old enough.” In an hour, he’ll be jumping onstage and offstage with the Allstars, often parading around with a strapped-on snare drum, and sometimes taking over the kit so Cody can strap on an electrified washboard or a Telecaster.

Malcolm has played bass with the Allstars for about a year, though they’ve known him for much longer. Like most things in the band’s realm, he joined the band organically.

“We live really close together and he began coming over to my Airstream for songwriting and jamming sessions,” Luther says. When Chew took a friendly hiatus, the band played with Pierre Wells and Alvin Youngblood Hart before Malcolm came on board.

“Hell, I don’t want to tell them this, but a lot of people could play what I do,” Malcolm says with a laugh. “I’m really a guitarist so when I play bass, I just play half as many notes.”

“He brings a sensibility,” says Cody. “He knows the music and where we’re coming from, and we learn a lot from him, too.”

Luther and Cody exhibit a natural ease, like the music just flows through them. But it took a lot of effort to achieve that effortlessness, a lifetime of music being their lives, of incorporating their influences so deeply that they become one with them, of thinking, talking, eating, breathing music every day until it becomes inseparable from everything else. As Luther walks off his bus and heads to the stage door to entertain a full theater on a Sunday night in suburban New Jersey, he smiles and says, “We know who we are and what we do.”

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