Blackberry Smoke is a homegrown Georgia band — but they’ve grown to have fans all around the world.
The musical group, described by Rolling Stone as “a Southern-rock group that can toggle easily between shit-kicking country, funky soul and blistering heavy rock,” will be at the Bell Auditorium this Thursday, Feb. 22, but it’s not their first time in Augusta.
The band is lead vocalist/guitarist Charlie Starr, Richard Turner on bass and vocals, Brit Turner on drum, Paul Jackson on guitar and vocals, and Brandon Still on keyboards. They have their sixth LP coming out April 6: “Find a Light.”
“The new album is a melting pot of Blackberry Smoke music with a wide range of sound and emotion,” Starr told savingcountrymusic.com. “I think it’s our most inspired work yet.”
Blackberry Smoke’s members are in their 40s, and Starr said their sound is “rock ’n’ roll influences range from Hank Williams Sr. to the Grateful Dead to Led Zeppelin. Needless to say, the outcome is a band that appeals to people who like vastly different genres.
Metro Spirit: How have things been going for you and your band lately?
Charlie Starr: Everybody seems fine; we just got started for the year about a month ago, and we’re getting busy again, which is good. We’re getting ready to release a new album in a month or so, and everybody’s excited.”
Metro Spirit: What do you think is hard about life on the road?
Charlie Starr: Being away from our families is the toughest thing, but we’ve been touring for 17 years, so it’s what everybody knows. It’s not new. But still, that doesn’t make it any easier, because we all have children. But it would be no different if we were traveling salesmen.
Metro Spirit: Is Atlanta still home for you guys?
Charlie Starr: It is, yeah.
Metro Spirit: What changes have you noticed in Georgia and the surrounding areas that have happened since you were growing up?
Charlie Starr: More people — the population has boomed, of course. And it seems like growth is something that everybody’s come to expect. I look around sometimes and think, ‘Oh, well there’s a shopping mall here, and it used to be an empty field.’ Growth and change.
Metro Spirit: Do you think some of your song lyrics reflect those changes that have taken place?
Charlie Starr: Yeah, I’m sure. It’s part of the game, I guess.
Metro Spirit: What inspires you and the band’s lyrics — do you write the lyrics?
Charlie Starr: I do. Everything that you see and hear can be an inspiration. Whether it’s a couple fighting in the bar, or something that happens to you personally. As a songwriter, I think you’ve got to keep your antenna up.
Metro Spirit: What’s one of your band’s best stories from the road that you look back at and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that happened.”
Charlie Starr: Probably nothing you can print. Road life can be quite an adventure.
Metro Spirit: Yeah… is there a good story that I could print?
Charlie Starr: Nothing that I can recall. That’s always tough, you know, it’s just 17 years of it, so anything from lost luggage to bar fights to you name it. There’s not one that sticks out.
Metro Spirit: What draws you to keep making music?
Charlie Starr: Well, it’s a way of life. I think that once the bug bites you to write songs and record them and tour and play for audiences, you don’t ever really want to stop.
Metro Spirit: Was music always your plan, or did you think you might go a different route at some point?
Charlie Starr: I think I knew from 6 years old or so. I think I knew, I just have to do this. I’m not really good at anything else. But I can make a tune on an instrument.
Metro Spirit: Six years old, that’s pretty young to know what you want to do, because there are people in their 30s now who are still like, ‘Do I really want to do this?’
Charlie Starr: Yeah. Well, I had to do lots of other things before it finally took hold, but I knew that I would always make music.
Metro Spirit: What do you love about life on the road?
Charlie Starr: I love the people and the places and seeing something different every day, experiencing something different every day. Travel is addictive. I think anyone that travels for any job will tell you that. It’s just an adventure.
Metro Spirit: What’s one of your favorite places you’ve been to that you wouldn’t have gone to without this band?
Charlie Starr: Probably Australia. It’s incredibly beautiful. I’ve never seen beaches like that anywhere else. I don’t know that I would have had a reason to go to Australia if it were not for playing this music.
Metro Spirit: Do you guys do a lot of international travel?
Charlie Starr: Yeah, we go to Europe twice a year.
Metro Spirit: Have you played on every continent yet?
Charlie Starr: Not yet. We’ve not been to Japan; we’ve not been to Central or South America.
Metro Spirit: Have you ever been to Augusta with your band?
Charlie Starr: Oh, yeah. We’ve played there bunches over the years.
Metro Spirit: Yeah? What do you like about Augusta?
Charlie Starr: It’s the home of James Brown! And it’s always great to play in our home state.
Metro Spirit: Well, Charlie, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Good luck with your tour.
Charlie Starr: Thanks!
<<BOLD>>Blackberry Smoke with Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real<<BOLD>>
8pm Thu Feb 22
Call 877-4AUGTIX or visit georgialinatix.com