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DECEMBER 28TH

ABOUT BLACKBERRY SMOKE

 

Pigeonholing Blackberry Smoke has never been easy. Since emerging from Atlanta in the early '00s, the quintet—vocalist/lead guitarist Charlie Starr, guitarist/vocalist Paul Jackson, bassist/vocalist Richard Turner, drummer Brit Turner and keyboardist Brandon Still—has become known for a singular sound indebted to classic rock, blues, country and folk.

This fluidity has paid off handsomely, in the form of two Billboard chart-topping country albums, 2015's Holding All The Roses and 2016's Like An Arrow. (For good measure, the latter also topped Billboard's Americana/Folk album chart.)

Find A Light, Blackberry Smoke's sixth studio album, doubles down on diversity. Songs hew toward easygoing roots-rock ("Run Away From It All") and Southern rock stomps ("The Crooked Kind"), as well as stripped-down acoustic numbers ("I've Got This Song") and bruising alt-country ("Nobody Gives A Damn"). Rich instrumental flourishes—keening fiddle, solemn organ and bar-band piano boogie—add further depth and resonance.

"That's one of my favorite things about Blackberry Smoke albums—there's a lot of variety," Starr says. "My favorite albums through the years are built that way, too. I love a record that keeps you guessing. I love the fact that our records are sort of a ride, with different types of songs and different vibes."

Within Blackberry Smoke's catalog, Find A Light is distinctive in several notable ways. The record sounds heavier than other albums; in fact, Starr characterizes the churning, scorched-blues album opener, "Flesh And Bone," as "maybe the heaviest song we've ever recorded." The title has deep significance to the record's overarching themes.

"Most of our albums have been named either for a song on the album or a lyric, and this time I didn't want to do that," Starr says. "I thought, 'What headspace is humanity in as a whole?' That's pretty hard to argue with that. I think everybody is hoping and looking for something better right now."

Accordingly, Find A Light's lyrics portray characters weighed down by the pressures of everyday life. "Flesh And Bone" explores the conundrum of temptation; "Run Away From It All" is about seizing the day and trying to leave troubles behind; and "Nobody Gives A Damn" cautions about letting external achievements such as an attractive partner or a hit song go to one's head.

"Inspiration comes from so many different places," Starr says. "A lot of inspiration can be drawn from current events these days, and how complicated the world is."

Yet Find A Light's hard-luck characters are soldiering forward despite it all, and remain buoyed by optimism—and deep faith in themselves. "One of these days I’ll get the best seat in the house/It’s the measure of a man, of a man," goes the jangly "Best Seat In The House," while the narrator of "I've Got A Song" asserts, "At the end of the day, it’s the one thing they can’t take away: I’ve got this song." The album's final song, "Mother Mountain," focuses on the belief that redemption and rebirth are always within reach.

"It felt good to write that song," Starr says of the latter. "I don't write a whole lot of songs like that, the really optimistic, yearning for something better kind of a song. The album's called Find A Light, and that song is sort of a plea, as far as that goes."

Starr switched into writing mode for Find A Light thanks to impromptu songwriting sessions he had with his friend Keith Nelson, formerly of the band Buckcherry. The men had never collaborated before, but found an instant creative connection. In fact, Starr ended up using four songs from their time together—including "Run Away From It All," "Nobody Gives A Damn" and "Best Seat In The House"—on Find A Light.

"At some point, I told him, 'Man, I really like these songs for Blackberry Smoke. These are Blackberry Smoke songs,'" Starr says. "He didn't disagree. I hadn't really started to write for another album yet, so these lit the fire, so to speak.”

Blackberry Smoke spent a little over two weeks recording Find A Light in Atlanta with engineer/mixer Tom Tapley and long-time collaborator Benji Shanks. As with 2016's Like An Arrow, the band self-produced the record. "With these two albums, we really knew what we wanted them to sound like, and what kind of record we wanted to make," Starr says. "It was a pretty easy decision to say, 'Hey, let's do it ourselves.'" That confident vision informed the band's decision to have several guest musicians appear on Find A Light. The brisk, gospel-tinged Southern rocker "I'll Keep Ramblin'" features the song's co-writer, Robert Randolph, adding frantic pedal steel, while the psychedelic-tinted folk elegy "Mother Mountain" blooms with The Wood Brothers' inimitable harmonies.

"As we were recording that song, I was singing it, and from the very beginning of that song—even in its embryonic stage—I wanted it to be a three-part harmony all the way through," Starr says. "I asked The Wood Brothers, because I love their vocal blend. They're fantastic harmony singers."

Another Keith Nelson co-write, the easygoing "Let Me Down Easy," features Amanda Shires shading Starr's vocals with her clarion twang. "I thought it would be really cool to have a female harmony on this song, sort of a Gram Parsons-Emmylou Harris kind of thing," Starr explains. "And Amanda came to mind. Her voice is so cool, so genuine and unique."

At its core, Find A Light illustrates the efficiency and chemistry of Blackberry Smoke's instrumentalists, who have no trouble translating the band's loose live shows into crisp studio recordings. "We always record together," Starr says. "That's what bands do. And you go in and listen, and think, 'Wow. How did that happen? What just happened? That was magic. That was magical. Can we do that again?'

"I'm always blown away by my bandmates' sympathy for the song," he adds. "We all agree that that's the way to be in this band is to play for the song—the song is the vehicle."

This commitment to putting the music first above all other considerations is one reason Blackberry Smoke has continued to evolve during their time together. And it also explains why Find A Light's sonic progressions and expansions sound so effortless.

"We didn't want to repeat ourselves," Starr says. "I don't ever want to make a record that ourselves or are fans are like, 'It's the same old thing.' But I still get a real lift from listening to Find A Light, even after multiple listens. I really am proud of the work that we accomplished."

ABOUT BISHOP GUNN

 

Bishop Gunn of Natchez, Mississippi, is rooted in the history and sounds of their home and the surrounding Delta, and features a blend of rock and roll, soul and blues.

 

In 2017, the band appeared on Kid Rock’s 8th Annual “Chillin’ the Most Cruise” and was voted the best band on the boat by the “chillers.” The group went on to do commercial film for Southern Comfort in Clarksdale, Mississippi and spend their summer touring. In September, Bishop Gunn took the stage at the Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee alongside artists like Justin Timberlake, Eddie Vedder, Mavis Staples and Gary Clark Jr. The band then played Laid Back Festival dates with Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Jimmie Vaughan, The Gregg Allman Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

 

Bishop Gunn released their debut full-length album Natchez in May 2018. They worked on the release with Grammy Award-winning producers Casey Wasner and Mark Neill at legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and FAME Studios, as well as The Purple House in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee where the band lives and creates in a farmhouse on the outskirts of Nashville. The album, named after the band’s hometown, entered the Billboard charts as the #4 Blues Album and also appeared as #8 on their Heatseekers South Central chart. Rolling Stone Country featured the band among their “Artists You Need to Know,” asserting “anyone can cite the Muscle Shoals sound as an influence, but few acts can actually pull off making music worthy of such a claim. Nashville band Bishop Gunn is one of those acts…The resulting music is the perfect blend of Nashville and the Shoals, and is the rare album that builds upon its influences rather than resorting to outright mimicry.”

 

Prior to the release of Natchez, the band was featured at SXSW, played support dates for Blackberry Smoke and was invited for a return appearance on Kid Rock’s 9th Annual “Chillin’ the Most Cruise.” They then spent the rest of 2018 touring in support of the album, including performances at The Peach Fest and The Big House Museum, as well as support dates for The Marcus King Band, Whiskey Myers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, and Black Stone Cherry. They look forward to kicking off 2019 performing on the Southern Rock Cruise and embarking on a European tour which includes support dates with Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.

ABOUT THE GEORGIA SATELLITES

 

Double platinum recording artists, The Georgia Satellites, brought us hits like "Keep Your Hands to Yourself", "The Hippy-Hippy Shake" and "Battleship Chains” which helped shape the future of Country Rock across the nation.

Founded by Rick Richards, and Dan Baird, The Georgia Satellites were one of the most ferocious bands of the 1980s. What set them apart from the other 10,000 groups that cranked their amps to 11, was that their wild riffs and tanked cries came from a quartet that understood their place in rock tradition and fought hard to solidify it with each recording. Critically acclaimed albums and mind-bending performances earned the boys a permanent spot in music history.

After a brief sabbatical following the departure of Baird, The Georgia Satellites returned with a vengeance in 1993. Led by Richards, Price, and joined by drummer Todd Johnston. In 2010 they added Freddy McNeal on guitar and ‘old friend’ Bruce Smith on bass. They have packed houses around the world with their blistering brand of Southern rock.

ABOUT SHAW DAVIS & THE BLACK TIES

 

A national touring trio influenced by the sounds of vintage, heavy Blues and Rock. Backed by long-time friend, drummer Bobby Van Stone and bassist Patrick Stevenson, Shaw Davis & The Black Ties feature their own brand of Psychedelic Blues and Roots Rock that continues to win over fans and crowds across the nation. 

The band has played over 300 shows, headlining festivals and opening tours for acts such as Samantha Fish, Chris Duarte, Mike Zito, Albert Castiglia, Matt Schofield, Popa Chubby, GE Smith, and toured in support with Anthony Gomes.  

The young power trio has made multiple appearances on Blues Radio International, was chosen to represent South Florida at the 2018 International Blues Challenge, and has been featured in South Florida Music Magazine for their crowd pleasing performances. 

“They’re a three-man wrecking crew that infuse the Blues with Hard Rock muscle to gratifying effect” -The Rock Doctor

 

"The next generation of pure, unadulterated Blues Rock...this is only the beginning for this remarkable trio." - Rock and Blues Muse

 

Shaw Davis & The Black Ties have created a serious buzz in the Blues Rock community! Don’t miss your chance to catch the band in action! 

 

Shows and Tour Dates available at www.shawdavisblackties.com

 

 Original: Mamma Told Me  www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgYFcPeoFaY