On the Rise with BLACKBERRY SMOKE

Top Selling Group to Appear at The Harvey Kern Pavilion on July 14th

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, National Music,   From Issue 829   By: Matt deHeus

30th June, 2016     0

Blackberry Smoke is a band whose time has come.  Since its formation in 2000, the band has experienced a slow steady climb.  With a touring schedule that has regularly exceeded 250 dates a year, the band says the have gone about gaining fans the old fashioned way - one at a time.

Currently touring in support of their fourth studio release, Holding All The Roses, the band will be appearing in Frankenmuth on July 14 at the Harvey Kern Pavilion.

Those that follow that band are not at all surprised that they have produced a hit album.  What did come as a surprise is when the album debuted at #1 on the Country chart when it was released in February. 

If you look at them, listen to them and read their story, there is no doubt this is a classic rock band.  Their tunes, which are a mixture of rollicking blues rockers and big American ballads would have fit right in on a 1970’s FM radio station.  

In one moment you might hear something that sounds like an ode to Dave Edmunds, in the next some Sweetheart of the Rodeo era Byrds, with a mash of the Rolling Stones, Black Crowes and Small Faces thrown in for good measure. 

The country chart success may owe to a few factors. First of all, it has been clear to people for a while that Classic Rock has been living around the fringes of Popular Country for years.  It is where all the guitar solos went to live.  Even without significant radio play, opening slots for bands like Zac Brown exposed Blackberry Smoke to a host of new fans perfectly willing to hoist a beer to a tune like “Rock and Roll Again” off their latest disc.

Another factor is that the sale of music and the way it is categorized has been slow to catch up with what is going on artistically.  For instance, the Jason Isbell album “Something More Than Free” debuted recently atop the Country, Rock and Folk charts simultaneously. 

When you listen to the Isbell record or to Holding All The Roses, you realize these bands cross current genre boundary lines.  Much like the Tedeschi Trucks Band hit album, “Let Me Get By,” and the locally produced Michael Robertson album, “All My Stories” (reviewed elsewhere in this issue), these discs ARE all of these things.  What we are in the midst of is a reinvention of American music.  Where a couple of generations of artists are saying “(forget) it” and throwing all their influences in a pot and seeing what comes out.

For everyone who says that there is no good music out there these days, I challenge you to check out some of these artists and see what you think.  If you like your music straight up, with no back up dancers, this is where you find it.  And if you never thought you could dance to a guitar solo, you may find out you are wrong.  You may look funny doing so, but trust me, that is alright. 

The July 14 show in Frankenmuth also offers you an opportunity to see this phenomenon up close.  Promoter Paul Koch, who also recently brought guitar whiz Marcus King to Bemo’s and who organizes the Freeland Blues Festival, has committed to bringing acts of this quality to the area.  It’s a rare opportunity for music lovers in our region to see what the buzz is all about.

Larry McCray will be opening the show, which starts at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $25.00. Tickets are available at the following locations: Bay City – The Rabbit Hole, Three Doors Down, Three Doors Down;  Saginaw – Records & Tapes Galore; Midland – Mid Michigan Music;  Munger – B&D Mini Market;  Flint – The Head Shop;  Frankenmuth – Tiffany’s  or online at FrankenmuthFestivals.com

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