Oh Lovely Appearance will be released Oct. 22.

The Dickens Campaign is a collaboration between Deric Dickens (drums), Kirk Knuffke (cornet), and Jesse Lewis (guitar), this album is an homage to the late musical archivist Alan Lomax.  Using selected melodies, the group inspires a new and modern interpretation of our musical heritage by using ideas from American blues, jazz and free improvisation.


Reviews Below:


Dickens’ drums combine rhythmic drive with keenly attenuated dynamics in a manner akin to Paul Motian.Dickens takes the tradition in a fresh direction and points to aless-travelled means of inspiration for his jazz-versed peers. Derek Taylor  Dusted  2014

Thanks to Laura Barton at The Guardian for the being included in "The Playlist: Americana"


Radio France 2014

Downbeat Magazine  Jeff Potter  Concert Review  2014

ENOLA Guy Peters 2014

All About Jazz  2014

Deric plays some very propulsive drums which sound just right in this somewhat spare, spatially wide threesome.This one is a definite score. Listen a few times and you'll get something you can't really find elsewhere. Gapplegate Music Review 2014

Bird is the Worm

Inspired by the work of folklorist Alan Lomax… an archivist who documented American folk music found along its many trails and towns… drummer Deric Dickens sought to discover his own voicing of the songs that constitute a large part of the creative wellspring of this country, marking it like the rings of an hundred-year-old redwood.

Of the ten tracks that comprise Oh Lovely Appearance, four of the songs come directly from the Lomax collection, rearranged by Dickens to suit the session’s trio format.  Of the remaining six tracks, they are cut from the same cloth as the archived tunes, and the trio wears them with the same sense of age and tradition.


  On this charming album of embraceable melodies and conversational rhythmic chatter, it is easy to overlook how seamlessly they coalesce as a unit.  When measuring the quality of a unit’s teamwork in making the music come together, sometimes it’s viewed by way of the interplay between musicians and how conversant they are in their back-and-forth interactions.  Other times, it’s a matter of direction and movement… do the musicians create patterns of sound and motion that elevate the music to a new plateau or is it just a sonic logjam of competing traits?  And then, on an album like this, that teamwork is best measured in the way that each member’s individual sound fuses with the others, coming together in a way that no longer is it the three sounds of a trio, but one singular sound with three simultaneous voices.  This particular form of interplay makes for a heady concoction, giving the music a presence both potent and dense with sonic qualities.

Interestingly, while the compositions Dickens chose to cover date far far back, it is easy to hear the reflection of those songs in the modern music of today.  The back porch languor of saxophonist Jeremy Udden’s Plainville recordings echoes in the rendition of Hazel Hudson’s “As I Went Out For A Ramble,” a song with talkative drums, a cornet seeking to tell a story, and a guitar that wants to hum along to both.  A cheerful song that sighs contentedly.

And then there’s the rendition of Henry Truvillion’s “Roustabout Holler,” a song with a confident gait and an itch to rock out a little bit.  And when the trio indulges that particular impulse, they emit some Neil Young grind & twang, a sound that flashes teeth like steel but maintains a neighborly amicability that keeps things friendly between instrument and ear.

The Kirk Knuffke original “Poem” is not unlike the Americana Jazz sound of Bill Frisell, one of the true innovators in the jazz-folk music subgenre.  The murmurs of notes, the comforting patter of drums, the lonely calls of cornet… like a nighttime forest scene, of sounds of unease drifting out from the darkness of the woods, as moonlight shines down on the fields and the stars twinkle and shine in an unblemished sky.

That tone and temper continues on the trio’s rendition of Mr. & Mrs. Boyd Hoskins’ “Oh Lovely Appearance of Death” and the Dickens original “I Should Have Known.”  Whereas the former track adopts a melancholy disposition, the latter is declarative, like a suitor professing his love via song.

Most tracks keep things closer to the peaceable end of the spectrum, but a couple, like the Knuffke original “Twice My Heavy” bring a heat that could forge metal, and a lumbering gait that could stamp that metal into place.  And the previously mentioned “I Should Have Known” develops into something louder, with Lewis’s electric guitar leading the way and rousing the trio to raise their voices high and heavy.

But for the most part, the songs range closer to the quieter side of town, exemplified best by the Dickens original “Paul Motian,” a tribute to the recently passed jazz great.  It’s a song that accentuates the Motian approach of presence over form, finesse as its own show of strength.  Knuffke, as he does throughout this fine album, instills a tranquility across the songs, letting notes soar with an almost casual nature, as if buffeted by the sounds of the other trio members as would a bird simply riding the currents of the breeze with a grand majesty.

But these are songs of the soil, not the air, and the trio’s rendition of William Walker’s “Hallelujah” has a tunefulness that speaks of old songs and the happy sense of comfort at being a part of that lineage, of becoming a part of the music timeline that connects us all.  Music brings us all together.  Art does that.  Creativity.  This is just one more example of the varied ways this connectedness may occur.

Just a real charming and likable album.

Released on Mole-Tree Music.

Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.


Richard Kamins: Step Tempest

Drummer/composer Deric Dickens hails from South Georgia and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.  His self-released 2011 debut, "Speed Date", was a series of 20 duets, 6 of which were created with the instruction to keep the musical interactions under 1:14. For his new CD, "Oh Lovely Appearance" (also self-released), there are no restrictions on the length of the tracks (3 of the 10 are over 5 minutes) and there are now 3 musicians playing the music.  The drummer calls the trio The Dickens Campaign, with Kirk Knuffke (cornet) returning from the debut CD and guitarist Jesse Lewis (Jon Irabagon, Ike Sturm, Michael Webster) filling out the ensemble.

In his notes, Dickens call the album "an homage to musical archivist Alan Lomax. 4 of the pieces come from the Lomax collection and there is a strong Americana feel that permeates the tracks.  There's the hard-edged blues of Henry Truvillion's "Roustabout Holler", a piece from the 1930s that Dickens rearranges to give its a Black Keys-type feel (Knuffke rises above the fray with a fiery solo.) The title track is an old prayer ("Oh Lovely Appearance of Death") that Dickens re-imagines as a country blues (with just a hint of a Celtic influence in the guitar accompaniment.) The modified skiffle beat of "As I Went Out for a Ramble" (credited to Hazel Hudson) has the feel of a Johnny Cash song from the late 1950s, only with Lewis on acoustic guitar. William Walker's "Hallelujah" dates from the mid-1800s and is a gospel favorite, especially among shape-note singers. Dickens keeps a steady beat while Knuffke and Lewis share the melody.

Elsewhere, there's the soulful "My Baby Likes to Sing" that sounds a lot like Ray Charles' "Unchain My Heart"; the track features a strong cornet solo and great rhythm work from Lewis. The slow blues of "I Should Have Known" features a blazing, blues-drenched, guitar solo and a sly turn on the cornet. "Twice My Heavy" would not sound out of place on a Buddy Guy recording, a simple melody over a steady rhythm.  More squalling guitar work that sounds great pouring out of the speakers.  Dickens ode to one of his inspirations, the late Paul Motian, bears the drummer's name and also has a wide-open sound like many of the pieces he recorded over the last 15 years of his life.  With Paul Motian, music was not about technique but feel and real emotions. Dickens captures that on his song.  "Poem" has a similar feel, with the cornet gliding above the sparse guitar lines and the leader's fine brush work.

"Oh Heavenly Appearance" is joyous without being giddy (most of the time), respectful without being too brash, and quite delightful all the way through.  It makes great sense that Deric Dickens created a group name - The Dickens Campaign -  because this music is a true group effort.  Play it loud, play it often and pray that he takes this show "on the road."  For more information, go to www.dericdickens.com.

Vincenzo Roggero: All About Jazz Italy

Deric Dickens's drums, Kirk Knuffke's cornet and Jesse Lewis's guitar reveal a very convincing, sometimes really exciting, alchemy, that enlightens melodies rich in history and stories and proposes a music connected to the present but inspired by the tradition. Country, gospel, blue grass and blues are only a few of all of the feelings present in the music of "Oh, Lovely appearance". The sensitivity, the inspiration and the sense of adventure of all the musicians bring the music either to blurred boundaries or unconventional forms.

Emotional and touching, a real gem. 4 stars.