The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, CA is set ablaze on Tuesday night with Blackberry Smoke.

With their latest self produced album Like An Arrow reaching #1 on the Top US Country and Americana charts, and #3 on the Top Rock charts, one might think it’d be a good time for the members of Blackberry Smoke to take the foot off the throttle a bit and live high on the hog for a spell. Absolutely not the case for these well-oiled beasts of the highway who play somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 shows per year. As a matter of fact, somewhere around the fourth or fifth song into their set is where we find out that their drummer Brit Turner broke his ankle earlier the same day. In a day where concerts are called off for cases of scratchy throats and sniffles, this further solidifies why this five-piece out of Atlanta has earned their place at the top of the ranks when it comes to Southern Rock and Country. 

The Cadillac Three gets the ball rolling for the night with some good old fashioned southern comfort. The Nashville based trio stroll out to their places, ever present drinks in hand, give the audience a salute, and proceed in blasting out a dripping rendition of “Bury Me In My Boots”. Frontman Jaren Johnston, clad in his  “Willie’s Reserve” trucker cap and well-worn Grateful Dead concert t-shirt effortlessly charm the rapidly growing audience. 

Fans sing along with every word to the barfly anthem “Dang If We Didn’t” as Johnston pounds out searing guitar solos. Another favorite is “Whiskey Soaked Redemption” where Kelby Ray rips out soulful notes from his lap-steel. After Johnston makes a touching dedication to his wife and three month old baby with “White Lightning” they end their night with a tribute to their love “The South” leaving the room chanting in unison “this is is where I was born and this is where I die”. 

By the time Blackberry Smoke take the stage the room has filled up with sufficiently greased up Southern Californians ready to get down and dirty to some good old fashioned southern rock. As the first notes of “Fire In The Hole” are pounded out, it’s clear that the Blackberry Smoke boys are ready to deliver. They roll through favorites like “Good One Comin’ On” and the dirty little ditty ”Six Ways to Sunday” where Brandon Still tickles his ivories over Paul Jackson’s nasty guitar riffs. 

They then launch into a furious version of “Waiting For The Thunder” where drummer Brit Turner punishes us with brutalizing kick drums. It’s after this offering where Starr informs us that Turner (who we earlier saw hobble to his set on crutches) is probably playing with a broken ankle. But he assures us that he is “playing the shit outta the drums for us”. The crowd erupts in approval.

One of the many highlights of the night is “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” where they break out into a jam filled with psychedelic guitar and piano solos layered with Richard Turner’s thunderous baselines. The audience watches with awe-filled astonishment as they transition seamlessly into the Beatles classic “Come Together”.  

Greg Allman is remembered in the “Free On The Wing”, an introspective track from their latest album Like An Arrow” that they had the opportunity to record with the late great bluesman. 

Fists are flying from the crowd as the slow build of the “Sunrise In Texas” begins to erupt into a bluesy anthem. Charlie Starr’s vocals are nothing short of epic in this grand track.  

There’s nothing gimmicky or trendy about this group. They play together with a precision that can only be attained by blood, sweat, and tears. This chemistry between each of them is palpable throughout the entire set. To label them into a category such as country, southern rock, gospel, Americana, jam band, etc. is to miss the point completely about what these guys are all about. They are all of those things, and so much more. Like many of the greats that came before them, they don’t fit neatly into a nice little musical package. Instead, they create their own. 

So whether you’re in the mood for a little country two-stepping, or rockin’ out til the break of dawn it’s a good idea to keep a close eye out for when Blackberry Smoke comes to your area. When they do, in the words of Mr. Starr himself, you’ll no doubt be feeling a “Good One Comin’ On”.

Check here for upcoming tour dates at the following link.

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Blackberry Smoke
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The Cadillac Three
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Fonda Theatre
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Event Date: 25-JUL-2017

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