Blackberry Smoke are certainly no strangers to touring as this particular band hailing from Atlanta, GA has been on the road consistently for the past several years. One of their first stops on 2014’s 40 city “Fire in the Hole” tour was St. Andrews Concert Hall in Detroit. After only a short time on sale, the tickets for this 500+ concert venue were sold out! These guys who have some amazing fans as one presented Charlie Starr (vocals/guitar) with an awesome guitar which they promptly named the “New Bus Guitar”.
I had a chance to sit down with the boys for a few minutes prior to the show to ask them a bit about their 13 year long history of playing together after meeting each other in Atlanta area bars about touring with legends such as ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynrd as well as who gave them their name.
I have noticed that there is a “Southern Rock Phenomenon” happening right now that encompasses everything from Southern Rock all the way to Country. Would you describe that as your sound or do you think that was a label that was pinned on you?
CS: It will work. We are all from the South so it works. Whatever makes people understand it and be comfortable because ya know…people always want to be comfortable.
You played the Hoedown last year right?
Where else in Detroit have you played?
CS: We played here (St. Andrews) last year, we have actually played a lot of venues in Detroit.
What is your favorite?
CS: Well our favorite is actually in Flint.
The Machine Shop?
CS: Yes! The Machine Shop. We love that place!
The Zink Brothers are great!
CS: Yes they are coming tonight. We have just been playing there for so long…since 2002. They have been very good to us. They are really good people.
What has been your most memorable moment as a band?
RT: Playing Madison Square Garden
PJ: Touring with George Jones
CS: There have been a lot actually. Getting a baseball bat from Wrigley Field.
What do you think you guys would be doing if you weren’t playing shows?
CS: I don’t know…just working (laughing)
BS: I used to do social work before this so I would probably be doing that
Who have been some of your greatest influences?
CS: Skynryd, The Allman Brothers, Aerosmith, The Stones, The Grateful Dead
You have opened up for a lot of people including the Zac Brown Band, ZZ Top, Lynryd Skynryd. Who has been the favorite?
CS: All of the ones you just listed (laughing)
How has that been playing with the bands that you may have considered idols?
CS: Well…it sucks because we don’t get to play for very long (laughing). Zac is our buddy so we love playing with him and we ask him always for five more minutes! Please just five more minutes??? Last night we met a lot of people who said that they saw us at the Zac show and we were walking around signing stuff.
How did you feel the first time you heard you sold out a show?
CS: Great! It’s a good feeling.
PJ: Who else is playing? (laughing)
CS: It beats the alternative when we used to just play for a few people. We used to play for just our wives. I remember one time we were playing out West and we got to the venue and the promoter had just started putting up signs then and said “Hey guys I am sorry, kick my ass or something!” And no one showed up. We were all loaded in and everything and the promoter just said “Hey guys…let’s just go home” And yeah..nobody came.
Who are you guys listening to right now?
CS: Jonathan Wilson. His new album is called “Fanfare”
You all got your name from Chris Robinson which is awesome how did that happen?
CS: Well the name we chose was taken. We found that out the legal way so we were like “Well we can’t use that”
Have you paid him yet? (laughing)
CS: Yeah in hi-fives!
You guys have played with The Cadillac Three right?
CS: Yeah a bunch of times! Way back to when they were playing under a different name…
CS: Yes! American Bang. Even back to when they were Bang Bang Bang!
BT: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Bang The Cadillac Three
CS: Man those guys can’t catch a break, every time they choose a name it’s used and they are like “SHIT!!” They are great guys we really love them. They are road dogs!
Thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to me I am excited to see the show because I have never seen you before. I am excited to experience it in a sold out atmosphere.
The show was amazing and Blackberry Smoke definitely showed me why they have been selling out shows. The guys are so amazing talented and played to the crowd. What I was not prepared for however was to be completely wowed by the opening act The Delta Saints. Their brand of country mixed with bluegrass mixed with some soul blew me away! I immediately went over to their merch table and bought the cd and spent some time talking with the band who is from Nashville. They have been playing for a while and this tour is the perfect avenue for them to showcase their talent! If you haven’t seen them, definitely check them out soon! They will be huge!