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Rhapsody Radar 2012: #18 Blackberry Smoke

by Linda Ryan

Rhapsody Radar 2012: #18 Blackberry Smoke

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With their long hair, impressive beards and mutton-chop sideburns, the members of Blackberry Smoke look every bit like the Southern rockers they are. But what good is looking cool if you don't have the chops to back it up? Sure, they look the part. But more importantly, they sound the part. No poseurs here, man.

You don't have to be from the South, or even a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd (although I'm sure it helps), to appreciate the righteous sound these cats lay down. Although their songs are liberally sprinkled with Dixie dust, they are also sung from the point of view of the everyday man -- which makes them entirely relatable to those living north of the Mason-Dixon line. The band's electric, earthy music -- booming bass and meaty guitar riffs playing over locked 'n' loaded rhythms -- sounds great whether you are a PBR-drinking red stater or a latte-swilling blue stater.

When they formed in 2000, the members of Blackberry Smoke bonded over a mutual love for The Allman Brothers, Skynyrd, The Rolling Stones and bluegrass legend Bill Monroe. Which is fitting, as each of these influences can be heard in the band's substantial, swaggering grooves. Much to their delight, their sound immediately struck a chord with Jesse James Dupree, and Blackberry Smoke were invited on the road with his band, Jackyl. Fast-forward to 2012, and the band still considers the road their home, averaging a substantial number of months on the road, opening for the likes of ZZ Top, Montgomery Gentry, Marshall Tucker Band, George Jones, Cross Canadian Ragweed and Zac Brown Band.

Speaking of Zac, the singer is one of Blackberry Smoke's biggest fans; when their label folded, Zac offered them a home at his own Southern Ground. Now, the band's third album, August's The Whippoorwill, offers more of the deliciously dressed, Southern-fried rock their fans love.

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