Track 29 Filled With Blackberry Smoke, As The Delta Saints March In

Saturday, February 08, 2014 - by Mark Herndon

It never ceases to amaze my musical thirst as I check the various venues when I check Track 29’s menu looking to quench it.  In looking over the menu I saw that The Delta Saints were going to march on stage first, then Blackberry Smoke would fill the air. I already knew the night would be a full house, in fact a sold-out house at the end of Track 29.  

I suppose you know why the house of music is called Track 29.  One has to walk the track at the railroad station to see one of the most colorful and photogenic locomotive engines.  It draws the attention of the locals and tourists to capture photos while vising or staying on campus at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.  The engine sits on the rails at the station on Track 29.

I will be honest and tell you, I had no idea other than the Blackberry Smoke gang taking the stage was a throwback of bands I was most familiar with in the 70’s a Southern Country Rocker for hours would spin the 12” vinyl disc of Marshall Tucker Band, ZZ Tops, 38 Special, Allman Bros. and Lynyrd Skynyrd (yes those original Skynyrd boys). I think it was friend Bob Payne,  entertainment editor extraordinaire for Chattanoogan.com, who reminded me they captured the Riverbend Bud Light stage in 2012.

So determining who I was going to invest my time with the next three hours caused me to do some homework. I went to their website and Facebook page.  After all isn’t that where you go now - social media to find the truth or just do some digging?  I found that the members of Southern Rock quintet Blackberry Smoke are no strangers to hard work. Playing up to 250 dates each year, the guys are on the road more often than not, and they’ve seen tangible results of their labor. The band has toured with and befriended idols such as The Marshall Tucker Band, ZZ Top (with Billy Gibbons jamming with the band on a Florida stop), Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Jones. The band was even asked to play for Jones on his 80th birthday, not long after the country legend turned in a guest appearance on the band’s sophomore album.

Does that not sound like a band you can watch, or just close your eyes and hear the best Southern Country Rock? Growing up in the 60’s it was Country or Rock, but the 70’s forward brought the two genre of music together in a unique way. The band I mentioned before brought the Southern elements mixing gospel. country, rock, soul with biker outlaw flair.

Blackberry Smoke was more than a throwback; they were real, mostly with great song writing creativities - a talent that takes a band beyond a cover band status.  Blackberry Smoke has earned a passionate fan base that continues to grow as the band itself evolves. The band is as blue collar as the bandanas its members wear.  The event photos allow you to meet Charlie Starr, lead vocals and guitar, Richard Turner, bass and vocals, Brit Turner on drums, Paul Jackson, guitar and vocals and Brandon Still on keyboard.

Great song writers and natural chemistry lend their music to appeal to a diverse audience.  I understood why the standing room only fan base was there at the house on Track 29.

Indeed, the band’s history together gives them a natural chemistry when writing the songs that could easily find a home with a diverse set of audiences.  The band is often compared to the forefathers of Skynyrd, but don’t expect to hear the same. 

Blackberry Smoke is fresh. The stage set catches your eye as the blackest purple smoke and the smell of blueberry incense set the mood that pleased the house of fans.  So check out their music on ITunes, find them on Facebook and hit their website at http://blackberrysmoke.com/

So exactly who set them up? The Delta Saints is a band with a great personality, still in touch with their young fan base,  As I entered the building, The Delta Saints were wrapping up their sound check.  I always make an effort to enter the building early to check out the opening band.  As the guys walked off the stage from their sound check it gave me an opportunity to meet them. It’s usually easier to get a group photo, since timing, lights and action makes for great photographs. After a brief friendly conversation, they said once ready to start the set, the group would be set for a group photo. You could set your Timex by this band.. ready, set, snap and play it loud!  

On one of the blogs it said, “The Delta Saints are not what they say they are. Delta? Absolutely. But saints? One might call them “cautionary tales” long before the term “saints” ever came to mind; however, there is something devout about their bayou rock, a dirty, and distinct sound.   Check out who they are, iTunes, Facebook, and their website http://www.thedeltasaints.com. You will hear more from these zealous saints with a distinct Delta flair.

It is always interesting meet each band member personally. The photos captured what I saw and heard. My new friends are Ben Ringel (vocals/dobra), Dylan Fitch (guitar), David Supica (bass), Ben Azzi (drums), Charles Fitch, (lead guitar) and Nate Kremer (keyboard).  The FB source mentioned each moved to Nashville for college in 2007 and first found common ground as old-world-loving, good-bourbon-swilling musicians.  Probably best described as “swagger rock” with their howling vocals and immense energy of their live show, the group began garnering notoriety through word of mouth, i.e. Facebook and other social media and from those attending their concerts and downloading the music.

Check out the follow links:

Blackberry Smoke  ~ http://blackberrysmoke.com

The Delta Saints ~ http://www.thedeltasaints.com    

Mark A Herndon ~ https://www.facebook.com/LastingVisionStudio

We welcome your feedback so continue to follow the Chattanooga music scene for the latest venue schedules at www.chattanoogan.com.

Mark A Herndon, CPG (m.a.herndon@comcast.net)
Professional Photographer
Chattanoogan.com (affiliated)



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