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What’s the Word?

The Word’s The Word (Ropeadope) is a leg-slappin’ gospel album that pays homage to the roots of American music. The CD is a mix of old gospel standards ripped apart and put back together as well as a few original compositions by a group comprised of keyboardist John Medeski (pictured left), steel guitarist Robert Randolph and the North Mississippi Allstars: guitarist Luther Dickinson, drummer/electric washboardist Cody Dickinson and bassist Chris Chew.

“Luther and Cody have this certain thing that I thought was gone. This certain southern rock, funky soul, swampy groove feeling. And then we heard these guys and it’s unbelievable. I mean you go to a North Mississippi Allstars show and it’s real rock music. No bullshit. Just swampy, funky rock,” Medeski says.

The album is inspired by a style of gospel called “sacred steel” by the House of God branch of the Pentecostal church. The House of God’s music is renowned for it’s bluesy style of gospel played on steel guitar. Medeski, while not religious, admires the music and the spirit of it. “I originally, in my own mind, had envisioned something more experimental with instrumental gospel music because that’s normally what I do. But I’m always up for anything. [This album] is more about being a part of the whole and making it happen. I don’t like to detract by wanking all over something,” Medeski says.

The Word features the kind of music that would increase the attendance at church. The kind where people dance around, arms flailing, bodies gyrating with joyful glee-kind of like drug-induced concertgoers. In any case, The Word proves that gospel ain’t just church music. Word ’em up.

Tour dates:

08/01/01 Burlington, VT – Higher Ground

08/02/01 Boston, MA – Paradise

08/03/01 Providence, – RI Lupo’s

08/04/01 Syracuse, NY – Lost Horizon

08/05/01 Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival

08/07/01 New York, NY – Irving Plaza

08/08/01 New York, NY – Irving Plaza

08/09/01 Washington, D.C. – 9:30 Club

08/10/01 Philadelphia, PA – Theater for the Living Arts

08/11/01 Cockyesville, MD – Grass Roots Festival

08/12/01 Great Barrington, MA – Bershire MT Festival

Originally Published