Candlelit tables lined the exterior of Hudson’s Club Helsinki while mismatched, low-lit globes and chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Steady waves of tantalizing aromas floated around the space as servers weaved through the crowd, serving pot pies and pie a-la-modes. More than twenty guitars lined racks or rested in stands on March 1, waiting to be played by a rotating arrangement of outstanding musicians.
Despite a steady afternoon snowfall that carried into the evening, the room filled with fervent fans; yet, likely because of the snow, the club never became unbearably crowded, allowing listeners to dance freely. Club Helsinki provided the perfect space for the North Mississippi Osborne Experience to launch into an intimate Sunday night jamboree in support of its recent album release, Freedom & Dreams.
The evening’s musical portion kicked off with North Mississippi Allstar Luther Dickinson and Anders Osborne facing each other and trading licks on electric acoustic guitars. The jam flowed into a smooth tune, “Let it Roll,” before Osborne exited the stage and Cody Dickinson and Lightnin’ Malcolm took up the drums and bass respectively. Luther Dickinson picked up the electric and put on a display with the slide. The trio played a couple folksy tunes—“Going Home on the Morning Train” and “Mean Ol’ Wind Died Down”—that raised the crowd’s energy. They shifted tempos a few times before settling down into a slow, stirring cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hear My Train A Comin’” featuring an ultra-clean guitar solo from Luther Dickinson.
Then, the musicians started playing musical chairs. Cody Dickinson picked up a six-string, renowned drummer and Louisiana native Brian Blade sat in on the kit, and Luther Dickinson and Malcolm remained on the guitar and bass for an upbeat, instrumental rocker. The room was grooving and got a little rowdy when everyone on stage grabbed a percussion instrument, waded into the crowd, and encouraged a sing along of “Granny Does Your Dog Bite?”
Luther Dickinson kept marching right off the stage and Osborne reappeared with his bassist, Carl Dufresne, for reggae-esque Osborne original “Marmelade.” While Allstars front-man Luther Dickinson exudes a calm, quiet confidence on stage, Osborne’s booming voice is rivaled by his enormous stage presence. Upon taking the stage, he stole the room’s attention and his vocals sounded superb in Club Helsinki’s open space.
The long set concluded with everyone on stage. Luther Dickinson and Osborne mesmerized onlookers while trading off between lead and slide guitars. They rolled through old New Orleans’ folk classics as well as originals. Cody Dickinson led a fiery folk tune on the washboard before they closed out with Osborne’s “On the Road to Charlie Parker.” With all the musicians playing and the crowd singing along, the hard-rocking jam highlighted a great evening of music.
Nearly two and a half hours after the show commenced, the world-class musicians wrapped it up to the chagrin of adoring fans. The North Mississippi Osborne Experience did their best, however, to reiterate the old adage that one should never miss a Sunday show.