Lightnin' Malcom

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lightnin Malcolm has announced a September 10th release date for Rough Out There via his independent label Shakedown RecordsAs a member of the North Mississippi All-Stars, and an artist who is witnessing significant growth in a solo career, his reputation as a pure purveyor of the Blues distinguishes him from many others in the genre.  He is an artist who carries the torch proudly, bringing melody, intonation, and the legacy he has learned from the masters to stages across the globe on a nightly basis.  This year, he will tour extensively in Europe with the Allstars, and stage a run of headline dates to support the release of his latest Lightnin Malcolm album.  When touring solo, the repertoire is presented as a duo, with Carl Gentle White aka “Stud” on drums. 

Malcolm’s journey began near the railroad tracks in rural Southeast Missouri.  As far back as he can remember, his existence has been focused on music.  Growing up, he gravitated to Bob Marley, Hank Williams, and The Temptations.  As he delved deeper in to his musical exploration, he developed a keen understanding that the roots of all music that inspired him was the deep blues.  After several years of travel in search of inspiration and an audience, he settled in North Mississippi, and became further inspired by the hill country Blues first made famous by Fred McDowell, and later R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Jessie Mae Hemphill.  For years, he has focused his energies on carrying the torch, and presenting the essence of what he learned from the masters of the Blues he has been inspired by via direct contact and collaboration.  Amongst those he was friends with and learned from were R.L. Burnside, Cedell Davis, Big Jack Johnson, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Robert Belfour, Honey Boy Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, Otha Turner, and especially T MODEL FORD.

He shares, “They all taught me the ways of the world….how to survive, handle your money, travel and meet people, and use the music to help those around you. Most importantly, they taught me what notes to hit and what notes NOT to hit. I loved playin’ with the guys who had original styles and were very hard to accompany. They wanted somebody to back them up without messin’ up their style, and they liked me because I could feel their changes and anticipate where they going with it. It’s like secret codes we were speaking in, and they liked me because somehow I understood.” 

Lightnin Malcolm’s closest collaborator and mentor was the late T Model Ford.  He reminisces, “Me and T Model traveled all over the world together.  I would open the shows – one-man band style.  I had my guitar, with bass, and snare drums on my feet.   Then, I played drums and T MODEL played guitar. Even just as a two-piece we really tore places up.  He had a style like a Delta Blues orchestra on the guitar.  His sound was so full, and so big, and was a huge influence on my guitar style.”  The inspiration is clear, on tracks from 
Rough Out There that include the opener “Workin,” alongside “Took Too Long,” and “Young Woman, Old Fashioned Ways.”

Currently, his sole band member Stud is a young man he has known since he celebrated his first birthday. The percussionist is T Model’s favorite grandson, and Malcolm shares, “When I was playin’ drums for T Model, and Stud was about 3 or 4, he was practically in my lap learnin’ how to hold the drumsticks. Later on, when I had to leave for my own career, at age 8 he became T MODELs full-time drummer. Studs been by T Model’s side his whole life, and there’s nobody livin’ that’s got the blues imbedded deeper in them than Stud. Now he is a great young man, and I’m so proud the circle is bringing us back together. I’ve worked with some of the best drummers out there, and Stud is the best.  Our style together is the result of those early seeds, and the chemistry we have is dynamite!”   You can hear that chemistry transparently on “
My Life’s A Wreck.”

He approaches writing with the intent of exuding emotion and a message he feels is worthy of sharing.  The framework is never approached within the confines of a two-man band, but rather a universe where there is no limitation to the sounds and styles that serve as the inspiration.  He offers, “I keep the rhythmic current of the blues foundation in everything we do, and the duo format works great for this.  The music matches the lyrics, and has a good dance beat to it. As far as lyrics, I try to write about everyday life, and the world we live in.  Keeping it universal allows the listener to find their own interpretation.”  Malcolm’s approach in exhibiting this theme is best displayed in the tracks “Reality Check” and “Money.

Lightnin Malcolm will release
 Rough Out There on his own Mississippi-based independent label Shakedown Records.  He offers, “I started my own label to make the kind of records I want, and to put out all the music I’m writing. We also want to record some of the great artists that I know that are amazingly talented, especially some of the last authentic Blues men left.  It is a guerilla business model for sure, and the focus is a work in progress.

Lightnin Malcolm lives with the mantra, “Music Is My Life.”  As the spotlight grows, he is ready for the moment, and the friendship struck with Luther Dickinson 15 years ago on the dance floor of Junior Kimbrough’s world famous juke joint, now brings heightened visibility to the arc of his growing career.  When asked about Malcolm, Dickinson passes on, “Malcolm’s much appreciated blues-roots aesthetic principles are very strong and centered which is a great influence on Cody and I.  There are only a handful of musicians left who were actually here in the Hills, back in the day, when it was really jumpin.  Malcolm’s time spent on RL’s porch and in the van with Cedric, and playing drums behind T-Model and Cedell.  Roots music is passed on hand to hand, man to man and as Otha said, ‘ever had your hand in the shit? well, you got it in there now.’  We love playing with Malcolm and that be a tough spot to fill, in between two brothers, but Lightnin keeps it cool and in the pocket, conjuring up the Zone! You can sense how much he cares about the music and the depth of his love for music and life.”  As bassist for the North Mississippi All-Stars, he will have the enviable position of also taking the stage as support to play songs from Rough Out There alongside others as the band travels The World.  With each day, one thing is certain – Lightnin Malcolm will make that torch a little brighter for the Blues to continue to yield discovery and offer a setting for celebration. 

Review (Renegade) from

“With 13 original tracks over nearly 47 minutes, Malcolm’s debut solo release is a hard-edged, minimalist blues effort unlike almost anything else. With some help on drums from Cameron Kimbrough, Malcolm’s own drumming, guitar work, and vocals get an additional rhythm layer that adds to the solid feel.

The two drums and guitar find a comfortable groove on each number where they stay a while and create a type of hypnotic energy outside the realm of most blues. They like to call it north Mississippi “hill country” blues, with a dash of rock, reggae, soul, and funk.

On a couple of tracks, a horn section adds some depth. This stuff is not for the fan of common blues, Delta, Memphis, Chicago, jump style or otherwise. It’s a unique blend of bare-bones, groove-based music with steady rhythms. And it’s a great change of pace.”

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2 Man Wrecking Crew (2008)
Delta Groove Music

Ruf Records

Rough out there
ShakeDown Records

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