Blackberry Smoke, Like An Arrow Tour

Blackberry Smoke, Like An Arrow Tour

Cody Canada & the Departed, The Dirty River Boys

Sat, June 17, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

$20.00 - $300.00

This event is 18 and over

Outdoors - Standing Room Only. All Minors Will Be Charged an Additional $5 At the Door. Rain or Shine Show. General Admission. 17 & Under Admitted with Parent or Guardian Only. $17.50 Advance/$22 Day of Show

Blackberry Smoke
Blackberry Smoke
The members of Southern Rock quintet Blackberry Smoke are no strangers to hard work. Playing up to 250 dates each year, the guys are on the road more often than not, and they’ve seen tangible results of their labor. The band has toured with and befriended idols such as The Marshall Tucker Band, ZZ Top (with Billy Gibbons jamming with the band on a Florida stop), Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Jones. The band was even asked to play for Jones on his 80th birthday, not long after the country legend turned in a guest appearance on the band’s sophomore album. They’ve toured Europe thrice over, and had their songs featured in video games (EA Sports’ NASCAR 08) and films (Swing Vote), as well.

Mixing elements of gospel, bluegrass, arena rock, soul and more than a touch of outlaw country, Blackberry Smoke has earned a passionate fanbase that continues to grow as the band itself evolves. The band is as blue collar as the bandanas its members wear.

“Our fanbase is as organic as you can get,” says drummer Brit Turner. “Each fan has been won by live performance or good old word of mouth.”

In a little more than a decade together, Blackberry Smoke has released three full-length albums—including 2012’s The Whippoorwill, the band’s first for country megastar Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label—two EPs and a live DVD, Live at the Georgia Theatre, which serves as the perfect showcase for the band’s raucous, rockin’ good-times-for-all take on rock ’n’ roll. A chunk of the DVD’s concert footage has aired numerous times on Palladia, and the band also shot a DirecTV concert that has aired countless times.

Brit, along with singer and guitarist Charlie Starr, bassist and vocalist Richard Turner, guitarist and vocalist Paul Jackson and keyboardist Brandon Still, have slugged it out on the road for more than a decade, but now regularly sell out headline appearances across the country and overseas. The band’s audience, Brit says, feels like more than fans, which is appropriate given that their families are their biggest supporters. (A word to the wise: hitting on the pretty ladies in the front row might get you decked.)

Though these road dogs rarely have downtime, they recently managed to carve out enough time to record their newest batch of songs for The Whippoorwill, an album that serves as a platform for smart, battle-tested songwriting and for the band’s ability to leave audiences breathless.

Despite the additional resources at its fingertips, the band decided that The Whippoorwill would be largely an in-house affair—its own songs, done its own way. Consequently, the band is more excited for this album’s release than any effort thus far.

“I remember not being able to sleep well at night when we were making this new album,” Charlie recalls. “I was so excited about which songs we were going to cut the next day. After it’s done and we can hold it in our hands and be proud of it we know that there’s another one that will have to be made in the not too distant future, but it feels really good to have this one finished; we’re all really proud of it.”

With Zac Brown and the entire Southern Ground team behind them, Charlie and the boys are experiencing all the benefits of life on a larger label. For an already busy band, business is booming.

“The only time we stop or take any time off is when someone’s wife has a baby,” Charlie adds, chuckling. “So, we’ve had to come up with a fictitious band member whose fictitious wife is having a fictitious baby.”

Yet even though they have a wealth of experience under their belts, with the release of The Whippoorwill, the guys find themselves in uncharted territory.

“We’ve never done an album and actually planned a tour around it,” Charlie confesses. “It’s always been ‘tour constantly and whenever the album is done, it comes out.’ It’s a new thing for us to actually plan this far ahead.”

And while the recording process for The Whippoorwill might have afforded the band a few additional luxuries—“It was strange being able to go into a nice recording studio without having to not pay ourselves for awhile to get the money to do it,” Brit says—the band still found itself backs against the wall. Fortunately, that’s exactly where Blackberry Smoke seems to thrive.

“For all the planning ahead, we still had to get it done in four-and-a-half days, so it’s not like we had time to stretch out and find the most comfortable chair in the studio,” Charlie says. “In a perfect world, I’d like to take a little bit more time to record, but it’s not possible until they add more hours in the day and more days in the week. We’re used to doing it that way anyway.”

Regardless of whatever pressures the band might have been under while the red light was on in the studio, that stress isn’t evident on any of The Whippoorwill’s 13 tracks. For example, album opener, “Six Ways to Sunday,” is a footstomping tune that mirrors the song’s carefree attitude, and could be mistaken for an old Motown track at times. At the same time, the title track has the effortless blues approach of ’70s-era Pink Floyd, but with more grease. Nothing feels forced.

Indeed, the band’s history together gives them a natural chemistry when writing the songs that could easily find a home with a diverse set of audiences.

Straddling the line between paying homage to one’s heroes and blatant theft is a tricky business, but it’s a divide that the members of Blackberry Smoke traverse with ease. The band invites a few comparisons to the hallowed forefathers of Skynyrd, but don’t expect to hear the same worn out clichés in their songs that every other band with country, pop or rock leanings have already espoused.

“We’re not in the business of writing the same song over and over and over,” Charlie says bluntly.

Speaking of “over and over,” at many points it would have been easy for these blue-collar musicians to get tired of bashing out song after song in distant dives and hang it up, get straight jobs and rock out as weekend warriors—if at all. But despite some lean years, they kept building an audience and keeping up with wives, children and girlfriends from long distances. So what’s kept them so passionate?

As Brit Turner emphasizes, it’s not necessarily dreams of stardom. It’s simply the love of the game. “We love it or we wouldn’t do it.”
Cody Canada & the Departed
Cody Canada & the Departed
The latest, tight incarnation of the Cody Canada-led group The Departed isn’t a reinvention of the group’s sound, or a reimagining of Canada’s musical perspective – it’s a reunion. As with any reunion, the passing years have provided the involved parties with new and unique perspectives, breathing vibrant excitement into their streamlined new environment.

Canada, Jeremy Plato, Chris Doege and Steve Littleton are reopening the doors to a sonic garage where sounds and stories some thought were gone for good are now being unleashed onto an eager public after a few years of fruitful – even risky -- artistic diversion. Being guided by raw emotion and nerves that are often unguarded, Canada hasn’t begun to pluck the opening notes to an increasing number of Cross Canadian Ragweed favorites without some reluctance or painful reminiscence, mind you. But the powerful nature of such visceral connections is what makes his stories stunning while rightfully placing him in a prominent class of modern songwriters occupied by the influential likes of Robert Earl Keen, Bruce and Charlie Robison, Todd Snider, Mike McClure and the men of Reckless Kelly, among only a strict few others.

To be clear, the men of the Departed are not the frat-house faves many of the latest generation of river-tubing popsters are. Ideals and experiences of a person enduring the sometimes harsh realities of the real world demand space in a Departed concert.

In the wake of Ragweed’s 2010 dissolution, most fans likely expected – and few would’ve blamed – Canada for adhering to the heart-sleeved, Okie-rocker recipe that propelled Canada into a true Rock Star realm. Bolstering his bad-ass bona-fides even more, however, was his decision to choose the dirt road less traveled. By finally partnering up with Seth James, a long-time friend universally admired for his soulful skills, Canada’s words had a different backdrop that certainly represented commercial risk, but offered an unusually fresh outlet where the iconic songs of his past, for a while, stayed in the past. For three years, Canada became a side-man for sections of each concert as the Departed quickly built a reputation as a crack band focused on packing as much expertly-curated song-craft into each show as possible, eschewing the demands for “more Ragweed!”

With the chill of 2014’s winter thawing into the haziness of the spring and the Departed now having played as a powerful four-piece for several months following James’ amicable exit, Canada’s appreciation for the truly remarkable, intensely personal body of work he created as he fronted Ragweed is intact, and indeed, fresh with the passing of time and the healing of emotional wounds. Unsurprisingly, fans are exuberantly responding to the inclusion of classics such as “Alabama,” “Dimebag,” and “17” into set-lists for Departed shows. The refitted outfit is channeling the power chords and raw-bone ballads which vaulted Canada into the status as Red Dirt’s biggest name for so long.

This is not a comeback. This isn’t a rebirth.

This is a rock and roll renewal only an artist with Canada’s strength of will and determined vision is capable of. He’s making great use of a rare chance few artists ever receive. He now knows what he only started to understand many years ago, and his words are all the more impactful as a result.
The Dirty River Boys
The Dirty River Boys
The Dirty River Boys are paving their own road as they travel it. They are a testament to the idea that "if you can dream it, you can do it," moving with determination ever closer to the light. Above all is their belief in their music. It motivates them and provides exultation for each member, as well as for the audiences who have become fans by the force field the band creates in live performance.
Steely intention aside, there is a magic to being in the right place with the right stuff at the right time. Home in El Paso, the Dirty River Boys yearned to make music the centerpiece of their lives. Then they played their very first Austin gig, a happy hour set at hipster haunt, Lustre Pearl. The music they presented was energetic and infectious, though stripped down acoustic. The joy was unmistakable. And a new path with exciting possibilities was being born. The band migrated to Austin shortly thereafter, where they thrive amidst the other musicians in town, and love the strong sense of community they found. "Being in Austin, with so many great bands, it makes you up your game."
Travis Stearns and Nino Cooper met in the music scene in El Paso. They started gigging every once in a while, while they waited patiently for the day they could dedicate themselves to music 24/7. The Dirty River Boys trio formed 3 years ago, when Marco Gutierrez quit his job and school to join the band. "We had to go against full bands in El Paso, us with three people with acoustic instruments. It shows if you are consistent and serious about your music, you can really make it. We put our hearts out there every night. People see that." They added an upright bass player about a year and a half ago. Colton James joined for a 90 minute set at the River Road Icehouse. It was a trial by fire and a foursome was forged.
The new album, Science Of Flight, was recorded at Yellow Dog Studio in South Austin, Texas. Marco, Nino, Travis and CJ put aside just five days for the process. They played everything on the album themselves, only tapping on the legendary Kim Deschamps to lay down pedal steel. Expect surprises; Wurlitzer, marching drum sounds, train whistles, a rattlesnake. The band was mindful of their ability to recreate the sounds on stage in the live environment. The Dirty River Boys are seemingly always on the road, having logged 200,000 miles in the van, though thankfully, the rattlesnake is not a traveling companion.
Science of Flight has been described by The Dirty River Boys as Western, Fat, and Rock and Roll. It touches on myriad emotions with gentle harmonies that shimmer with beauty, acoustic rave-ups, and hook driven tunes. "This time, we made a record. We build it, recording the parts ourselves. This is a band record. We are really excited about it."
Venue Information:
John T. Floore Country Store
14492 Old Bandera Rd.
Helotes, TX, 78023