Blackberry Smoke, one of the most intriguing bands to come out of the Southern states in the last 20 years, is riding high.
Their latest full-length album, 2018’s “Find a Light” debuted at the top of multiple charts and in addition to a headlining tour already underway, they will perform over Thanksgiving break for their “Brothers and Sisters Holiday Homecoming” show at the Tabernacle in the group’s home city of Atlanta, Ga.
“Homecoming (Live at the Tabernacle, Atlanta, 2018),” a live album and concert film released on Nov. 17, documents Blackberry Smoke’s annual event, which supports children’s cancer research and takes place every year during Thanksgiving weekend.
Blackberry Smoke, referred to by fans as “Smoke,” formed in 2000, with a line-up consisting of Charlie Starr (lead vocals, guitar), Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals) and Brandon
As a result of extensive U.S. touring, both as headliner and as the supporting act, for artists such as the Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top, Smoke has gained a hefty cult following.
Commonly categorized as a Rock band, Smoke has a large sonic palette that they readily employ to craft their own, unique sound.
While shades of Lynyrd Skynyrd can be heard throughout the band, Starr’s vocals, at times, can invoke the Allman Brothers (a principle influence of Blackberry Smoke), Tom Petty and even Neil Young.
Throughout their two-hour set, Smoke played songs from each of their six studio albums and included cover songs from friends and band influences. Furthering the inability to artistically pigeon-hole the band, each song on the set list underscores their versatility, as keyboard-dominant songs blend effortlessly with acoustic, piano-driven ballads and harder, ’70s-style Rock.
Key tracks from this massive two-hour set include:
• “Nobody gives a Damn,” a honky-tonk jam with guitars that sound as gritty as Keith Richards (Rolling Stones), while Starr questions, “What are you? Some kind of hero, doin’ everything that you can? You think that everybody’s watchin’ but nobody gives a damn.”
• “Ain’t Got The Blues,” an already catchy song about being happy, benefits greatly from the live “Homecoming” event as the crowd displays veneration for Smoke, singing along with the song’s chorus, word-for-word, “I’m gonna shine, A big sparklin’ shine. Everybody that I meet, is gonna be a good friend of mine, I’m feelin’ fine, Just fine as wine.”
An especially touching moment brought the crowd together when Starr declared, “this song is dedicated to Gregg Allman and Tom Petty,” before diving into “Free on the Wing,” a tender song reflecting the human condition.
Another evening highlight that added to the sense of community and general positivity evoked through their brand of music, was when Smoke invited Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown, a Nashville, Tenn.-based Rock band to the stage, for a blistering eight-minute rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” which showcased a lengthy multi-guitar solo that would make ’70s Rock band Thin Lizzy proud.
“Homecoming (Live at the Tabernacle, Atlanta, 2018)" is an essential release for Blackberry Smoke.
The Atlanta rockers have already built a steady fan base by pouring their souls into their music, but much like how The Allman Brother’s 1971 live release, “At Fillmore East” represented an artistic and commercial breakthrough for “T.A.B.,” “Homecoming” is a mega two-hour performance that asserts that because of Blackberry Smoke, exciting things are happening on the American “Southern” Rock scene.