Atlanta based Blackberry Smoke continues to grow into the premiere Southern Rock band of America. Over the last 12 months they have shared the stage with ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Shooter Jennings, Cross Canadian Ragweed and countless others.
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BIO February 2021
To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the band and re-establish their Southern roots, Georgia-based Southern rock badasses Blackberry Smoke will be releasing their latest record called You Hear Georgia on May 28th. Produced by fellow Georgia native Dave Cobb, the album is all about their deep appreciation for the Peach State, especially the title track (listen below).
“Lyrically, the song is about the South being misunderstood,” says lead singer and primary songwriter Charlie Starr. “It’s obviously a rough and tumble world, and there’s a lot of bad people. But there’s a lot of good people too. It started with the idea of how people might have a preconceived opinion of you because of a thick Southern accent, then expanded into the reality of how some people just seem to have such a hard time getting along, thanks to political or religious views, or simply what part of the country you come from.”
Collaboration is a component to the new record, with a host of cool names being included in the sessions. Jamey Johnson shows up to sing on the song “Lonesome for a Livin’,” and Warren Haynes appears on “All Rise Again.” Charlie Starr also wrote with Dave Lizimi of The Four Horsemen for the first two songs of the 10-song album, and Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot for the final song, “Old Scarecrow.”
With new music also comes a couple of new members to the group who you may notice in the promo photos for the band. Joining the band now both in the studio and on the road is well-known Atlanta percussionist Preston Holcomb, as well as guitarist Benji Shanks who has worked with The Black Crowes and others in the past. Benji had previously appeared on acoustic tours with Charlie Starr as an accompanist, and both were on tour with Blackberry Smoke when they paired up with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Preston Holcomb and Benji Shanks are now considered full-time touring members of the band, and help the band stretch out their extended jams.
Also joining the band for the album are The Black Bettys. With their own careers to keep up with as well, you may not see them out on the road. But Blackberry Smoke does hope to utilize them on select dates in the future. They join the Charlie and the rest of Blackberry Smoke, Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals) and Brandon Still (keyboards).
Blackberry Smoke has been one of the highlights of independent country and Southern rock over the last two decades, becoming the first independent outfit in the modern era to go #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart when their album Holding All The Roses did so in 2015. This feat was matched in 2016 with Like an Arrow. Their 2018 album Find a Light went #3, and became their 3rd consecutive album to hit #1 in rock as well.