Saturday, June 5, 2010

Americana Review: Blackberry Smoke in Pittsburgh, PA

Good Saturday Morning, Americana fans! It's been a couple of weeks, but we're back at it here at Americana Review and for our first column in a two weeks, we've got our first concert review. We thought that with this being our first concert review, we had to do something special for it. So, we loaded up the van and hit the road to one of my favorite cities for many reasons, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The show was for a group that just blew my socks off when I first heard them, Blackberry Smoke.

When a band can blend hardcore country a la George Jones, and southern rock a la Lynyrd Skynyrd, you get a sound that is unique. This group from Atlanta, Georgia is one of a kind. They don't sound like anyone out there today, which certainly piqued my interest. It was a show we simply had to attend.

The show was at the Thunderbird Cafe in the Pittsburgh suburb of Lawrenceville. I think my house is bigger than this entire club, and that's saying something because it's not like I'm living in a mansion. This is not a bad thing. It certainly added to the ambiance. This is a club that was designed for live music, which is all to often a dying breed in a lot of cities. The Thunderbird Cafe is a refreshing place to showcase good live music, whether it's the local band from town or a national recording artist. It's clean, the beer is cold, the crowd is friendly and the sound is impeccable. Not a bad seat in the house either, always a good bonus.

When Blackberry Smoke took the stage, right away you knew something special was about to happen. Apparently by sheer coincidence, it was decided at the last minute that the nights show was going to be an acoustic one ... apparently due to lack of space for their equipment. The band sat on stools, acoustic guitars in hand, and proceeded to belt out some of the best music I have heard in a long time. The crowd may have been small, but they were signing along loud and proud to nearly every song the band performed. Their current video hit, Good One Coming On, was the anthem of the evening. Other crowd favorites were Up In Smoke, Sanctified Woman and I'd Be Lyin'. With due respect to the band, my personal favorite was their cover version of the George Jones hit, Yesterday's Wine. The single currently being played by some at radio has guest vocals from Jamey Johnson and the possum himself, Mr. Jones. Chills went up and down my spine when I heard this song on the radio. George hasn't sounded this good in years. Truly a remarkable recording, worthy of many major awards. Hopefully it gets noticed.

The musicianship exhibited by these gentlemen is first rate. These are not easy songs to play at the best of times. Performing them for a smaller crowd with acoustic instruments is a high-risk manouver. I'm happy to say that these guys passed with flying colours. They can stand with any guitarists or keyboardists out there in the world today. The guys that make up Blackberry Smoke (and their road crew) are among the friendliest in the business, mingling with their fans following the show. You don't see that often these days, for varying reasons.

Blackberry Smoke are touring all across the United States in support of the lates album on BamaJam Records, Little Piece of Dixie. If you are reading this in Destin, Florida on June 5, BlackBerry Smoke will be playing in your town at the Lower Alabama Lounge. Following this gig, they fly overseas to Europe, through Sweden, Norway, Holland, Germany and France. Blackberry Smoke return to the United States on June 25 in Louisville, Kentucky (opening for Travis Tritt), followed by dates in Atlanta, Georgia (June 26 -- Peachtree Tavern); Burnsville, North Carolina (July 2 -- Burnsville Town Centre), Clarkston - Detroit, Michigan (July 9 -- DTE Energy Music Theatre), and Jamestown, NY (July 10 -- Jamestown Arena). If you get the chance to check this band out, I strongly encourage you to do so, especially at the smaller venues. A band this good will not be able to play the small rooms much longer!

Blackberry Smoke is Charlie Starr -- Guitar and Vocals; Richard Turner -- Bass and Vocals; Brandon Still -- Keys; Paul Jackson -- Guitar and Vocals; Brandon Still -- Keys; and Brit Turner -- Drums.

For more information about Blackberry Smoke, do check out their web site:

Until Tuesday, dear readers. Hope you have a great weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment