Featured Band Profiles

Jimbo Mathus’ Tri-State: Coalition A Modern Case of Classic Blues

Posted On:

Jimbo Mathus’ Tri-State: Coalition A Modern Case of Classic Blues

    Blues guitarist/vocalist James “Jimbo” Mathus brings his latest
incarnation, “Jimbo Mathus’ Tri-State Coalition” to The Green Parrot for
a full weekend of gut-bucket North Mississippi Juke Joint Blues with shows at
5:30 and 10 PM on Friday, August 24th, 10 PM on Saturday, August 25th, and 5:30 PM on Sunday, August 26th.
If you’ve only known Jimbo Mathus for his work as the founder of
The Squirrel Nut Zippers and their hyper-ragtime, early jazz and blues
you’re missing his best work.  In place of the Zippers tight swing
and hot jazz is a loose, woozy houseful of southern sounds that
ricochet from swamp blues to hip-swerving soul; from honky-tonk
weepers to rollicking, almost Allman Brothers-esque rockers.
In what may be called a modern case of classic blues, Mathus, a
devoted fan of Jimmy Rodgers and Charlie Patton, takes the raw power
of vintage delta sounds and gives it a completely contemporary and
fresh lyrical direction and sensibility.
To this sensibility to blues add Mathus’ prowess as a musician.
Following the success of Buddy Guy’s Sweet Tea album, on which Mathus
played second guitar, he was again cast as Buddy’s right hand man on
the Grammy Award winning Blues Singer and subsequent national tour.
Concertlivewire.com described the tour as “a dangerous six string
showdown between Mathus and Guy. He was then hired for a stint on
Buddy Guy’s famed “Double Trouble” tour and was credited with “a
searing slide guitar courtesy of the talented Jimbo Mathus.”
Tri-State Coalition, drawing on gospel, r &b and juke
joint blues, brings to the stage a primal groove with feral lyrics.
Mathus promises a “ritualistic workout that keeps the booty moving.”
The late Memphis producer Jim Dickinson once called Jimbo Mathus “the singing
As a performer, Mathus contributed vocals on the North Mississippi Allstars’ 2006 Grammy-nominated Electric Blues Watermelon. He recently reteamed with buddy Luther Dickinson and Alvin Youngblood Hart to create the South Memphis String Band, whose first release, Home Sweet Home, is nominated for a Blues Music Award (formerly known as the Handy Awards.) He also collaborated with Luther Dickinson and The Sons of Mudboy on Onward & Upward, nominated for Best Folk Performance in the 2011 Grammy Awards. The album came out in late 2009 and features Mathus on guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals. It honors the late Jim Dickinson and received a glowing review in Rolling Stone magazine. “Jim would have loved the rough edges [and] determined joy,” wrote Senior Editor David Fricke.

Mathus started doing Mississippi Music professionally in between Squirrel Nut Zipper projects. He and some other Zippers went by “James Mathus and the Knockdown Society,” recording three albums together from 1997 to 2002. Around this time, Mathus’ guitar skills started popping up on other high profile releases such as the North Mississippi Allstar’s smash debut Shake Hands with Shorty and Jim Dickinson’s lauded Free Beer Tomorrow. This led to producer Dennis Herring hiring Mathus to play on Sweet Tea. “It was the honor of a lifetime,” Jimbo says of playing with Guy. “I have nothing but respect for the man.” Jimbo’s most recent industry performance was given in the Clive Davis Theater, as the headliner for The Recording Academy’s “Mississippi Music Night at the Grammy Museum” on February 10th, 2011, and was lauded by the LA Times and Billboard.com.

Mathus opened Delta Recording studio in downtown Clarksdale in 2004 and relocated the co-op to Como in 2006. The studio features vintage RCA silver capsule microphones and Pre-Amps like the ones used in the 1940s and 1950s by everybody from Billie Holiday to Elvis Presley. The guitar amps, drums, piano and everything else is old school, too. So is the building. “It don’t look like it work, but it do; just ask Elvis Costello,” Mathus says.
of Huck Finn.” In his native Mississippi and
throughout the South, however, Mathus is known as a prolific songwriter of born‐in‐the‐
bone Southern music, the torchbearer for Deep South mythology and culture.

Think Delta highways, bowling‐pin Budweisers and “catfish music” for the masses.Jimbo Mathus remains a rising-star powerhouse that feeds the soul.  His latest
band, The Tri-State Coalition, features solid talent cut from the same Delta cloth.
Mathus describes Tri-State’s sound as  “…a true Southern amalgam of blues, white
country, soul and rock‐n roll.  As Dickinson would say, ‘If you don’t like this, there
is seriously something wrong with you.’”