Charlie Starr - guitar, pedal steel, banjo & vocals
1 Six Ways To Sunday
Magnificent, superb, fabulous, aso... I could use much more other laudatory qualifiers to talk about this new Blackberry Smoke album, since it gives me a feeling of perfection !
A release is planned in a few monthes, but it's already available after the BBS gigs, and as we're lucky enough to have a friend that passed on the little pearl to us, it's our duty and our pleasure to announce it to the RTJ readers ! Immediatly with "Six Ways To Sunday", I'm gobsmacked. Wouahh, what a fucking rock’n roll ! I already knew this tune because I saw it on YouTube, but here I'm really impressed by the richness of the arrangements. Oh, what a beautiful guitar sound he has here, the Charlie! This guy is really a big one ! And then the other don't lack of anything. The rhythm section bass/drums of the Turner brothers is simply superior, as usual Paul's axe and backings are fantastic, and Brandon's keyboards have quickly become essential to the sound of Blackberry Smoke !
Ouch, how that sings, how that swings... I can't manage to write anymore so much my feet don't want and can't anymore stay in one place... So good ! From a personnal point de view, when I listen to Charlie and his fellows I always get big thrills, because it still remains me this day of January 2009 when I discovered them on the Simple Man Cruise. They opened the Skynyrd cruise, et each time I listen to them, like on those "Pretty Little Lie" or "Everybody Knows She's Mine", I get such a damned slap of nostalgia that I have trouble going on writing. For that matter I realize that I began this review for at least two hours and it's the third time I play the album. My little brain doesn't manage to do two things in the same time, and as it makes the choice to the pleasure of listening... Ha ha ha ! Well, move on John ! So, what more can I tell ? For me all is fabulous in this album, whatsoever with the sublime "Ain't Much Left Of Me" (but why am I screaming the chorus like that ? The neighbours will take me for a retarded person, but perhaps that... Indeed !). The very seventies "Crimson Moon", the super swinging "Lucky Seven" (oh the slide wha wha !...) are as gems that confirm the level of this album, and when the intro of "Shakin' Hands With The Holy Ghost" resonates, I willfully put my pencil down (well the keys of the keyboard), and I confirm that Blackberry Smoke got the better of the rest of my lucidity... Sorry !
More seriously, I think that today BBS has definitively to be ranked among the biggest in the Southern Rock, anyway from my point of view they fully deserve this recognition !
Probably the album of the year, except if Skynyrd ?...
BLACKBERRY SMOKE: Live at The Georgia Theatre DVD (2011)
Charlie Starr - guitar, pedal steel, banjo & vocals
01 - Good One Coming On
Hey... It took a lot of time this one (the DVD), before to land up in our CD players ! Recorded the 5th of August 2011 in Atlanta and announced since the following September (?), we were really beginning to dispair... Would it really be realised, this Blackberry Smoke DVD ? Well like the proverb says, "All things come to him who waits", and our impatience found its reward whenat last the record we were waiting for so long is released in the beginning of February 2012 ! As a starting point we can remind that for 2 years, a great part of the enthusiasts feel Blackberry Smoke like the future and worthy (we hope so!) successors od the great southern powerhouse that are Skynyrd, Hatchet, aso... and when we take an close interest to the band's evolution for some years, we can only acquiesce !
Having discovered this band a day of January 2009 on the Simple Man Cruise, I had the opportunity to measure (with my fellow Manu from Natchez) how much this band brought hope beside the Américans ardent about this musical spirit, and at the end of this same year 2009 when they started this European tour o how difficult for various reasons, I understood at that moment that Charlie and fellows took a little the same paths that a certain Lynyrd Skynyrd followed in the years 74 and 75 when they descend in Europe while they were almost unknown in our countries at the moment. They really had to have balls to undertake that kind of tour, and we know what happened later for the gang of Jacksonville, and that's probably not the Humble Pie of the late-lamented Steve Marriot (Skynyrd opened for him at the Olympia (famous music-hall in Paris, N.of theT.) in 1974) that could question it ! Well I found some parallèles between the seventies' Skynyrd tour and the Blackberry Smoke Europe 2009 : a limitless will to be known and appreciated in the Old World in order to have the hope to win over a real fame back in their country. The job isn't the easier, playing almost every night during 3 weeks in very little European clubs (including in Portugal or Spain!), you really have to have a damn good faith and to trust in positive consequences, all the more so as we can easily imagine that the financial effects could only be moderate because the band was hardly known. The high point of that tour was probably this concert in Reims (organized by Natchez and Co) where, leaving Bilbao in minibus in the morning (bravo Manny), they made more than 1000 kilometers (more than 625 miles, N.of the T.) to arrive in Reims under 15 centimeters of snow around 18h30. And if we add that this day the band had to play acoustic, because Brit Turner (the drummer) had to go back in emergency to the United States (due to his little daughter's health), we realize better the kind of motivation filling Blackberry Smoke ! So, even if it's not so far, it's been a lot of water under the bridge. Today, the band has taken a well deserved place in the Southern Rock hierarchy, and before discovering their next album (very closed to be released), don't deny ourself and let's appreciate them live on stage, it's probably the place where they are the best !
This 5th of August 2011, the BBS supporters are really gathering around the Georgia Théâtre and the party promises to be one of the best ! After the brilliant pre-intro boogie (very influenced by... well, I don't know who anymore ?) it starts with "Like I Am". Wouaah... It exudes the Deep South !... Funny to see Charlie, Paul, Richard, Brandon and Brit on the stage with big carpets like the Black Crowes did regularly, perhaps because the two bands know one another very well, it's really a Robinson brother who proposed Charlie the name Blackberry Smoke ! And it goes on with "Good One Comin One", a tune written originally by David Lee Murphy, Leroy Parnell, and Gary Nicholson for the album "A little more livin" of the Country man Trent Willmont, and superbly covered by Blackberry Smoke ! All the best BBS tunes are on this DVD, whatsoever ''Up In Smoke'', ''Ain't Much Left On Me'', ''Freedom Song'', ''Restless'', ''Son Of Bourbon'', ''Man Of Constant Sorrow'', ''Yesterday Mine'' and its pedal steel, and the essential "Shake Your Magnolia''. On two tunes (''Country Side Of Life'' et ''Deep Elem Blues''), we can even see Mister Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie) himself on stage invited by the BBS, as well as Zac Brown for "Restless". Interrupted with interviews or studio passages, this live video of Blackberry Smoke is unquestionably a great moment, and is of course essential to every real Southern video collection !
Keep on Southern Rockin' !