Hart to play first Tupelo show next week

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Alvin Youngblood Hart’s music sounds like he dug it up in a hillside in North Mississippi.
But don’t let his birthplace of Oakland, Calif., fool you.
“I’ve lived in Memphis for the last 15 years,” he said in a phone interview with the Daily Journal. “I did plenty of living in Mississippi, too.”
His bluesy sound is a product of the music he was raised on.
“The first thing I heard growing up in the ‘60s was the radio. That was as much an influence as anything,” he said. “I grew up in and out of Mississippi, and I was around a lot of Mississippi people.”
Hart’s first record, “Big Mama’s Door,” was released in 1996 to rave reviews. He’s been rocking and rolling since, with his 2003 record, “Down in the Alley,” earning a Grammy nod for Best Traditional Blues Album.
The last big noise he made was alongside Jimbo Mathus and Luther Dickinson in the South Memphis String Band. The group released records in 2010 and this past spring, but now he has his next solo CD in the works.
“I’m trying to figure out how to do my next record. The business has changed a lot,” he said. “I’ve got two-thirds of a record’s worth of songs. Whenever we get the particulars straightened out, there’ll be a new record.”
Hart doesn’t even bother with a set list when he plays live. He has a host of songs to choose from, like old fan favorites off his previous records, new tracks to test in front of fresh audiences, and songs he’s done with other bands, like the South Memphis String Band. So instead of coming up with a strict set-list, he goes with the flow.
“I’ll usually just call them out,” he said. “I know what I want to start with and finish with, and I figure it out in between.”
Hart revels in the spontaneity of it, and in having a good crowd giving good feed back.
“For me I guess, I’m more about plugging it in and seeing if it works,” he said, laughing. “When you get a good crowd, it’s a pleasant surprise. There’s nothing like a good, engaged audience after a 10-hour drive to re-energize you.”
Hart’s played across the North Mississippi hill country, but he’s never played Tupelo. That changes next week with his gig at the Blue Canoe.
“I haven’t been there since I saw Cheap Trick and Aerosmith a few years ago,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing Tupelo.”
sheena.barnett@journalinc.com

On Stage
WHO: Alvin Youngblood Hart

WHEN: 9 p.m. Nov. 1

WHERE: Blue Canoe, Tupelo

COST: $5

INFO: (662) 269-2642, facebook.com/BlueCanoeTupelo