Friday, January 25, 2013
Out & About: Zac Brown Band, Blackberry Smoke
Courtesy Shore Fire Media
When Zac Brown Band returns to the Roanoke Valley tonight, a familiar act will be among the openers.
Blackberry Smoke has played regional venues such as the old Awful Arthur's Towers, the old Cattle Annie's in Lynchburg and Blue Ridge Bike Fest. But the act got its biggest audience around here when it opened for ZBB at Salem Football Stadium in April 2011.
Brown and the members of the Atlanta-based Blackberry Smoke have been friends for years, long before Brown and his group hit the top of the country charts and crossed over into the pop world.
Blackberry Smoke singer/guitarist Charlie Starr said that Brown has always been the type of guy to say, "anything you need, just tell me."
The last time Brown said that, he wound up signing Starr and his mates to his own Southern Ground Records.
Starr said that Blackberry Smoke's last label, the indie BamaJam Records, fell apart in the midst of criminal charges. He declined to discuss specifics, but the Associated Press and other sources reported that BamaJam boss Ronnie Gilley was convicted in Alabama of attempting to bribe lawmakers to support pro-gambling legislation.
According to Starr, when Brown heard about the band's plight, he said, "I've got a label, and if you guys are so inclined, I'd like to have you be on my label. I think it would be perfect. I love what you do and the way that you do it, and I would like to help."
Since then, Blackberry Smoke has released a new album, "The Whippoorwill," and the DVD "Live at the Georgia Theatre."
"And so what he's allowed us to do is everything that we felt like we needed and wanted to do," Starr said. "So he's great. We love him."
Hear more of our interview with Starr and hear music from "The Whippoorwill" on a podcast at blogs.roanoke.com/cutnscratch.
If you go
Who: Zac Brown Band, with Blackberry Smoke and Levi Lowrey
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Roanoke Civic Center Coliseum
How much: $69.50, $59.50