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Station Blues ...
the page for Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find the meanings behind certain blues phrases, idioms, and southern slang used by the Allstars?
What's the guitar that looks like a cardboard box & a stick?
What is DDT?
And the DDT Big Band???
What is Gutbucket?
So where is Paul Taylor now?
What is "ML" on the setlist?
What key does Luther tune his slide guitar to?
What’s the layout of Cody’s kit?
Is Duwayne Burnside still in the band?
What’s with that washboard?
What guitars do the NMAs play?
What tools and effects machines do the NMAs use?
How do I get hard-to-find CDs?
Who's that fourth guy on the Shimmy She Wobble single?
I'm a musician, is it possible for me to work with the NMAs?
How can I learn to be a guitar god like Luther?

Where can I find the meanings behind certain blues phrases, idioms, and southern slang used by the Allstars?

Occasionally fans have written in to the Grotto AND asked around town trying to find the meanings behind certain lyrics used in the NMA's songs. Here are a few websites that can help you with the definitions, the historic twists and turns, as well as the colloquial usage of some of these phrases and words.

The AKA Blues Connection: Documenting Rock 'n' Roll's Roots in the Blues
Harry's Blues Lyrics Online
Old Southern
TBH, A Brief History

A couple of example questions from fans:
Q: In the song "Horseshoe" from Electric Blue Watermelon, there is a lyric referencing to "cut the pigeon wing around my neck." What does that mean?
A: This could be in the same vein as "albatross around my neck" or a similar phrase "millstone around my neck." These sayings both suggest to letting go of a burden. Cutting the pigeon wing in this sense of the phrase possibly means to "set yourself free from" or "letting go of."

Q: What is a "coolin' board"? ...such as, in "51 Phantom" where the Allstars sing "til I rest my head on the coolin' board..."?
A: coolin' board - 1. death bed. 2. A more historically accurate definition comes from Tampa Blue. According to him, coolin' boards were actually boards laid across blocks of ice. Especially in the heat and humidity of the South, it was a practice to place a dead body on a coolin' board to slow down the deterioration process. This allowed time for relatives and friends who lived outside the local area to travel to view the body and say their final goodbyes.

The coolin' board is mentioned in the lyrics of Son House's "Death Letter". Also, Lightnin' Hopkins makes reference to the coolin' board in his "Smokes Like Lightnin'" and "Coolin' Board Blues".

*special thanks to Jim Hauser at the AKA Blues Connection.

What is that guitar that looks like a cardboard box with a stick?
This guitar has 3 names: Cigarbox guitar, Diddly Bow, and Lowebow.

The first time audiences really got a good look at Luther playing this thing was during the Hill Country Revue concert, Bonaroo 2004 (which was the first Lowebow of that scale). More recently, Luther used it in the Electric Blue Watermelon recording of "Mississippi Bollweevil" and brings it along on the road for the live version.

Perhaps created in the 1800s, a cigarbox guitar is basically that...a wooden cigar box, a 3 foot dowel rod, and 1-3 guitar strings. These days the masters add tuning pegs and electric transducers. The strings, however, can be tuned to any note and are played with a slide.

Luther's guitar is a one-string Lowebow brand. This contraption was built by a man named John Lowe in Memphis, TN. Lowe wires each instrument with hand-made pickups so that the Lowebow is broadcast through two amplifiers. Most of the Lowebows John builds are custom instruments built to specifications.

Luther carries two new Lowebows on tour with him: Shorty and Shorty II. The first two he owned now belong to Kid Rock. At Luther's request, the Shorty was designed to be shorter than the typical Lowebow in order to match the length of his Les Paul's.

Anyone can order a Lowebow Shorty or Shorty II by emailing John Lowe personally at

Some cigarbox guitar websites:
Interview with John Lowe aka Johnny Lowebow

How to Make a Cigarbox guitar

What is DDT?
DDT stands for (D)ickinson (D)ickinson (T)aylor. Luther and Cody, who were already making guest recordings as teenagers, formed a punk-inflected band with bassist Paul "Snowflake" Taylor. DDT recorded albums of their own but basically toured their local venues. Their popularity as DDT led them to open for headliners like the Replacements, Jakob Dylan and Ice-T.

Hear clips of DDT:
Stomp On Me - MP3 :30 sec

2 Much 4 Me 2 Handle - MP3 :30 sec

And the DDT Big Band???
Well this is a good description from Memphis Flyer from 1997:
D.D.T. Big Band:
When Paul Taylor and Luther and Cody Dickinson first formed D.D.T. in 1990, many treated the event like it was the second coming of Memphis music. After all, both the Dickinson brothers and Taylor were the offspring of renowned local musicians. Still, the hype had to be intimidating when you consider that the oldest member of the band at that time was only 17. Fortunately, D.D.T. didn't succumb to the unreasonably high expectations and has spent the past seven years exploring the possibilities of rock, blues, and soul as part of what has been a very public musical education.

It's becoming increasingly more difficult to keep track of all of D.D.T.'s different incarnations. The core trio of Dickinson, Dickinson, and Taylor has followed firmly in the tradition of groups like Booker T. and the MGs and the Hi Rhythm Section by becoming one of the premier backing bands in the city, working with artists as divergent as Beck and Billy Lee Riley.

Another version of the band, playing under the name the North Mississippi All-Stars, plays a raucous brand of electrified country blues that can be heard on an upcoming release by Luther and Cody's dad, legendary producer Jim Dickinson.

And yet another D.D.T. variation, Gutbucket, is an inspired re-examination of the roots of the blues, jug-band music.

But it may be the D.D.T. Big Band that finds the group at its most focused. Featuring respected saxophonist Jim Spake, ex-Big Ass Truck keyboardist Chris Parker, and the phenomenally talented singer Kelley Hurt, the D.D.T. Big Band weaves R&B and rock into a tight groove that bears a lot more soul than most of the modern music that claims that description.

Addendum:...Chris Parker later moved to New York to study jazz with Kelley soon to follow.

What is Gutbucket?
While Luther and Cody Dickinson were playing punk with Paul Taylor in their band DDT, they had what they call their "alter ego," a jugband called Gutbucket. It was a chance for them to experiment with a more rootsy, acoustic sound.

Gutbucket basically got its start when Jim Dickinson made Paul Taylor a washtub bass for his 21st birthday.

Luther explains..."Once Paul got going on washtub bass, that was it. It's just such a bare-boned approach, and the songs are real songs with great melodies. We had an acoustic guitar and tub bass and a washboard. That was our dad's influence because he had a jug band when he was a kid. He was always talking about the washtub bass, so Paul Taylor, our bass player from DDT, our original band, and a really talented musician, took to the tub bass instantly. Cody picked up the washboard, which was a Mudboy and the Neutrons influence. That was our dad's band with Sid Selvidge, Steve's [from Big Ass Truck] father, and Lee Baker the guitar player. Lee was one of Steve and my big influences."

According to Luther, Gutbucket was a chance for the trio to explore new material and sounds, including -- unusual for a jug band -- their vocal harmonies.

Hear a clip of Gutbucket:
Where's the Man With the Jive? MP3 :30 sec

Gutbucket 2005

So where is Paul Taylor now?
Paul Taylor didn't really want to play the blues, and according Chris Chew, Paul passed on a little bass technique to him. He later joined another band, Big Ass Truck. This psychedelic funk band was formed in the mid-'90s in Memphis around core members Steve Selvidge (guitar) and Robert Barnett (drums). Critics liked them and they gained a following in the South by touring with 311. Signed by the Rounder label's Upstart subsidiary, the group released several albums.

Paul, who is also a producer, aided upright bass player, Amy LaVere, who released "This World Is Not My Home" for Archer records.

Paul has also been spotted playing bass with Luther and Cody occasionally in Tennessee, but his most current project has been his solo album, Open Closed.

What is "ML" on the setlist?
It has been stated by fans that ML stands for Martin Luther. This was Cody's title for the instrumental Goin'Home, a title preferred by Luther. The piece began as an untitled bonus track at the end of Polaris and was later titled by the NMAs as Goin' Home on Hill Country Revue. Fans have come to know it as Goin' Home and Goin' Home Part II for the slower, impressionistic section.

What key does Luther tune his slide guitar to?
Luther plays slide guitar in G and D. When he plays in G, he tunes the bottom string to D. The top string is also D.

What’s the layout of Cody’s kit?
-2 rack toms (12”/13”)
-2 floor toms (16”/18”)
-2 kicks (20”/22”)
-Zildjian cymbals
-2 Hats (13s or 14s)
-China cymbal
-2 Crash cymbals (16 to his left, next to the hats, and an 18 to his far right)
-Ride (1 medium with a larger bell)
-2 snares
-Roland TR-808 keyboard
-1 fan
-6 bottles of water
-1 generic ashtray

Is Duwayne Burnside still in the band?
At Bonnaroo 2004, Luther was asked the status of Duwayne, to which he replied, "Duwayne isn't on the road touring with us now. He's concentrating on a juke joint he just opened up in Holly Springs, but I just want everyone to know....once an Allstar, always an Allstar."

As far as we know Duwayne decided not to tour with the band in order to be part of the Burnside Exploration and to establish Burnside’s Blues Café in Holly Springs, MS. Here he can play host to other blues acts, but he does the occasional guest spots with the band.

Recently, Duwayne has felt the need to record a solo record. However, his good buddies, the North Mississippi Allstars joined him in the recording studio. Now they call themselves Duwayne Burnside and the Mississippi Mafia.

Duwayne's Bio and Tour Itinerary


What’s with that washboard?
John Cane saw Cody play the washboard and had an idea to make an electric washboard as a gift. He made the first electric washboard by enlisting the help of George McConnell, Widespread Panic guitarist, who owned a guitar shop. Cody ran it into a wah-wah pedal and started playing it on stage all the time.

Cody played that one for a year or so, and then the guy who invented it replaced it. A new shiny stainless steel and teak one for him was built as the old one was falling apart, and he burned the original at a fest. The new one has a battery powered pickup and there had been talks of making it available at the merchandise booths. At Bonnarro 2004, Cody smashed the washboard onstage and threw it to the audience, and he has burned two onstage.

Cody explains..."Well, I’ve destroyed two on stage- on purpose…I’ve destroyed probably two or three more by accident, and one more got destroyed the other night in the trailer. It got utterly destroyed- I couldn’t have done that. That was just traveling with it. No I don’t have a sponsor- but Sunnyland are definitely the best ones- they have the coolest logo."

Best description of the washboard sound: "sounded like an underwater spaceship from Neptune with a big ass muffler..or something like that" -jns_cville

When asked if he washes his clothes on the washboard, Cody replies: "No man, just girls' panties."

How to Make an Electric Washboard

What guitars do the NMAs play?

-Gibson Les Paul Classics (heritage cherry sunburst, wine red, ebony)
-Epiphone Elite Les Paul
-DM-33 Metal body Dobro from OAI
-EF-500M Epiphone Masterbuilt acoustic w/LR Baggs pickup
-Epiphone '58 Korina Flying V
-Epiphone Casino

Read the Epiphone interview with Luther

-Epiphone El Capitan acoustic bass
-Tobius bass (5 string, left-handed)
-Modulus 6/5 string bass
-Lakland 6/5 string bass

-Epiphone Blues Master
-Gibson Les Paul Double Cutaway

-Gibson J-185 12-string acoustic
-Epiphone 6 String acoustic
-Gibson Les Paul Standards

Strings: DR strings

photographed by estory

What tools and effects machines do the NMAs use?
-On writing the effects in the songs, Cody has been noted to use Digital Performer and Garage Band - Mac based sequencing software. As for the instrumental samples, I don't know for sure, but they may just be the sounds included on his electric keyboard.
-Aphex Aural Exciter, Bass plug-in for Pro-tools

-The sampled recordings they've used comes from the Jim Dickinson vault like the bonus material after Be So Glad. They have used recordings of the family (Mud) and Luther's jams with Otha Turner (Shake 'Em on Down).

For live shows:
-Digital Delay: Boss OD-3 Overdrive , Boss DD-6
-Distortion: Tube Screamer, Boss DS-1, Blood Drive Overdrive
-Volume: Ernie Ball VP Junior 205K pedal
-Effects: Boss TR2 Tremelo pedal and Dunlop 95Q CryBaby
-Tuner: Peterson VSS StroboStomp pedal

- Marshall 1959SLP reissue
- Marshall 1987X reissue
- Marshall 4x12 straight cabinets

-Amp heads:
-Peavy 5150 Amp Head
-Peavy Triple XXX Amp Head

How do I get hard-to-find CDs?
Please go to One To Grow On, for the Discography. There you will find links to purchasing the not-in-stores/hard-to-find CDs.

Who's that fourth guy on the Shimmy She Wobble single?
Well, that's Carwyn Ellis, I believe.

Cody explains... "We brought in this guy [on Polaris], Carwyn Ellis, to play some keyboards. He’s a guy we met overseas that we’ve played with a lot. And he plays in a band with a singer that sounds remarkably like JB, believe it or not. But they broke up. It was kind of a disaster, tragic genius kind of story. But as soon as we met Carwyn we did a jam over in London and it just clicked. That’s a whole story in its own. We ended up playing a show and Oasis and Thin Lizzy and Primal Scream and these bands were coming to our shows. We were all hanging out and it became this real serious scene we had going on over there across the sea. It was really neat and we maintained a bunch a great friends over there."

Cody further explains... "This was in 2001, 2002. What’s funny is that Noel Gallagher was coming to our shows. We sort of became buddies and he took me up to their studio. He formed this band for his label and Carwyn was involved and another one of my friends James. So in a way we were all meeting people through each other. And Carwyn ended up joining Oasis a few months ago, playing on Top of the Pops and all this shit. But he’s on [Polaris]. We flew him over last year and he tracked keyboards with us. He plays on two or three songs but I do play most of the keyboards. And last I heard, he was still performing with Oasis."

I'm a musician, is it possible for me to work with the North Mississippi Allstars?
If you are in a band and would like one of the NMAs to produce or play on your new album, then try contacting Delta Recording Service in Como, Mississippi under direction of Olga and Jimbo Mathus. Luther and Cody are both listed as producers/musicians for the studio and can participate in new projects if their schedules permit and have creative interest.

Chris Chew can be contacted for session bass recordings through his website He has also shown interest in producing as well as teaching.

Cody Dickinson owns an all inclusive record label that mainly releases music through online sources. Visit Diamond D Records website for more information and contacts.

How can I learn to be a guitar god like Luther?
Check out Luther's Guitar Style here.

Luther recorded a TV series called Guitar Express where he teaches the basics of guitar technique through rock and roll. Well, here, Luther explains:

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