Mississippi Allstar Talks Grammy Voting, Future

As a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences for the past five years, North Mississippi Allstars drummer Cody Dickinson has been a studious voter in the Grammy Awards process.

"Voting on the Grammys is a hobby of mine," he says. "I know how the whole process works."

So Dickinson was particularly stoked when he found his band on the prenomination ballot — initially in the Best Hard Rock Performance category, listed alphabetically between No Doubt and Oasis.

The North Mississippi Allstars' debut, Shake Hands With Shorty, ultimately wound up nominated in the Best Contemporary Blues Performance category, but Dickinson says that just being able to associate the group's name with the Grammys is a thrill.

"I was real honored," says Dickinson, 24, who co-founded the band with his older brother, guitarist Luther Dickinson, after previously playing together in thrash-blues band D.D.T. "It's an elite group of musicians and music lovers who vote on it. Nothing's tagged or bagged or bought or anything; it's just straight-up music lovers. I'm real honored just to be nominated."

But while it's celebrating the past, the group — which also includes bassist Chris Chew — is planning for the future and a second album that will be produced by their father, Jim Dickinson, whose credits include the Rolling Stones, the Replacements, Beck, Ry Cooder, and others. The younger Dickinson says there are "hours and hours and hours of music," all North Mississippi Allstars originals, and they're anxiously anticipating the opportunity to work with their father, who's used them on some of his past recording sessions.

"It's going to be real interesting," Dickinson says with a laugh, noting that their familial sensibilities do have a knack for clashing. "We're going to avoid that as much as possible. He was so cool on the first record; not only did we do it ourselves, but he wasn't even around. He was working on some other stuff — and I don't think that was an accident on his part, either. But, to be honest, he's a seasoned, experienced, wise record producer, and we need help in order to grow. So who else is there to go to, really?"

Before that album comes out, however, the Dickinsons will be heard on other projects, including a new Jon Spencer album, a solo outing from Widespread Panic's John Hermann, and a gospel-funk album by John Medeski of the trio Medeski Martin & Wood. Luther recently worked with The Band's Levon Helm on sessions for a new Canadian singer-songwriter Mike Younger, while Cody produced the new album by the Memphis rock band Lucero.