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James H. Mathis, Jr., better known as Jimbo Mathus, spent the majority of the 1990s immersed in gypsy jazz, swing and klezmer with the Squirrel Nut Zippers. When the group disbanded in 2000, the inevitable fallout (lawsuits, divorce, etc.) sent the bruised but affable multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter looking to his Mississippi roots for guidance, which he found touring with Buddy Guy, Luther Dickinson, and Alvin Youngblood Hart, and releasing a string of well-received solo outings with the intention of bringing "catfish music to the masses." Fueled by a $16,000 Kickstarter campaign, 2013's White Buffalo finds the venerable Southern rock statesman, along with Matt Pierce, Ryan Rogers, Eric Carlton, and Terrence Bishop (The Tri-State Coalition), making his Fat Possum debut with a collection of songs that celebrate every musical facet of the region, from folk ("Hatchie Bottoms," "Poor Lost Souls") and country ("In the Garden," "Useless Heart") to primal, juke joint thunderclaps like the propulsive, Mountain-esque title cut. It's a winning formula that's as rough and ready as it is warm and homespun, due in large part to Mathus' amiable delivery and knack for creating memorable, accessible characters with an acute awareness of both their flaws and their strengths. Raw, heartfelt, and bereft of artifice, Mathus and company manage to find the sweet spot between Exile on Main St. and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," skillfully navigating the nooks and crannies of Americana, pulling out the sweet and succulent bits, and serving them up with genuine Southern hospitality.
|Label:||Fat Possum Records|