This past March I chatted with Americana singer/songwriter Amy LaVere in regards to her (then) upcoming tour supporting The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson on his latest solo trek. However, it was a side-project, whose details were still being ironed out, that she seemed most excited about in 2012. She did promise that the band would be touring the East Coast for most of May but, by that point, the project was yet to even have an internet presence (I’m pretty sure in our postmodern world, that’s the equivalent to a demo of yesteryear.) That project was The Wandering, a collection of “traditionally-minded artists,” whose sound LaVere characterized for me as “Trippy 1930s music.”
At the core of The Wandering is North Mississippi Allstars’ guitarist/vocalist Luther Dickinson (also an alum of The Black Crowes), alongside a quartet of equally accomplished female musicians: LaVere, Shannon McNally, Valerie June, and Sharde Thomas. LaVere comes to the fold with her upright bass, while McNally (a notable solo musician in her own right, along with a former member of Sons of Mudboy and collaborator with the likes of Son Volt and Charlie Sexton) handles rhythm guitar duties, Thomas (a newfound solo artist and leader of the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band) plays fife and drums, and June (a blues artist who has attracted the likes of The Black Keyes and Dr. John) is on banjo. And Luther, well he plays lead guitar, mandolin, and banjolin.
The band’s debut album, Go on Now, You Can’t Stay Here, was released today and is comprised of a combination of standards and songs made famous by slightly more “popular” Southern artists, such as Robert Johnson, Kris Kristofferson, and Ray Charles. The aesthetic is a celebration of the sounds of Mississippi and, although the artists didn’t pen any of the tunes themselves, the tunes are clearly a driving force behind the roots of each one of these musicians, inspiring them to churn them out with passion and soul nearly matching the rugged authenticity of the originals.
As Amy promised me back in March, The Wandering are currently touring the East Coast and they will be appearing downstairs at World Café Live on Tuesday, May 15th, so if you’re a fan of the work of either Luther or any of the previously mentioned ladies (I must admit, LaVere gets 100% of the credit for my interest in this band.) or if you’ve just recently found yourself taken with good-old-fashion Americana (And, based on attendances for local performances from First Aid Kit and Trampled By Turtles, I’m guessing you have.) this is definitely something worth checking out – it’ll take at least two decades for “punk” to drag itself out of its current, hyper-commodified state so, until then, I’m pretty sure traditional folk, country, and blues will be pretty much the “punkest” thing out there.