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Blackberry Smoke: Purveyors of Southern Rock in Tucson

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Blackberry Smoke live

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Atlanta’s pride and joy, Blackberry Smoke brought its “Fire In The Hole Tour” to Tucson’s Rialto theatre August 28, 2014 with a bang. Their music was flavored with some Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Led Zeppelin spices and smothered with some good ol’ country gravy to give the crowd one of their favorite two-hour feasts. There is a revivalist nature to their show including Charlie Starr’s bell-bottom jeans.

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The band is gradually gaining recognition considering there is not much radio support and a small amount of commercial success. They are backed by Zac Brown’s boutique record label “Southern Ground Records” and they performed material from their latest album release, “Whippoorwill” as well as fan favorites from earlier releases. Charlie Starr, the leader of the band, provided lead vocals and snappy guitar licks. He added only enough banter to keep the audience engaged and things moving along. Paul Jackson is the other smooth guitar player and vocalist. Richard Turner is the bass man who also rounded out the vocals. Brandon Still offers the extraordinary keyboards for the band and burly Richard Turner kept the beat going on drums.

The beginning of the show had some sound problems with the vocals, but by the third song things were back up to speed and the show proceeded without any further glitches. The crowd was enthusiastically singing the lyric along with the band. Midway through the show, Charlie deviated from the set list and said, “we’re gonna sing one verse of “Livin’ Hell.” The crowd went ballistic and this song seemed to garner the biggest applause of the night. The lyrics are a little racy just the way the fans liked it. A complete set list can be found here.

The hard work of constant touring, good songwriting, and outstanding performances have paid off for this band. Hopefully, there will be more recognition on the West side of the United States for Blackberry Smoke. They totally deserve it!

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