“It’s a misconception that blues music is simple and easy to play,” says Cody Dickinson of The North Mississippi All-Stars. “When you start dealing with the swing element and the feel, it gets tough. It’s much harder than straight-8th rock.” Having spent his early years watching studio legends Jim Keltner and Roger Hawkins record with his father, famed producer Jim Dickinson, it’s not surprising that Cody understands the importance of feel.
But the drummer’s not only rooted in the blues tradition. He’s reinventing it, bringing many contemporary influences into the mix. “I get a lot of ideas from rap beats,” says Cody. “I’ve also been listening to DJ Screw and Lil’ Flip. I love that stuff. It’s very rhythmic.” On the All-Stars’ recent live CD, Hill Country Revue, Cody points out the track “Be So Glad,” stating, “I’m doing 32nd notes on the hi-hat, like a drum machine.”
Cody has also developed a unique approach to double bass. “I was into Slipknot for double bass,” he explains. “But I came up with a fresh idea after hearing the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band’s bass drummer, Otha Andre Evans. He gets these insane patterns going, similar to second-line drumming from New Orleans.” Other members of the Rising Stars include snare drummers Aubrey Turner and Rodney Evans.
Listen to the All-Stars’ “Shimmy She Wobble” to hear Cody apply these ideas to double bass. “It starts with a marching beat from the Rising Stars,” the drummer explains. “With my feet I’m emulating the sound of two hands on a marching bass drum.” To emphasize this unique approach, Cody uses different-sized bass drums. “Jordison from Slipknot will tell you, they spend hours trying to match the drums. I want them to be different.”