Last August, the Kenny George Band packed out Sky City on Broad Street for a live show during which they recorded material for their next album. A few months down the line, and “Live at Sky City” is finished and set to be released Friday, December 25.
Guitarist and vocalist Scott Rankin said, “We’ve had an exciting past few months, including opening for Rascal Flatts and being asked by Lee Brice to come to Nashville in April to record.”
The band — made up of Rankin, Kenny George on guitar and vocals, Bucky Brown on drums and vocals, C.M. Ely on pedal steel guitar, and Brooks Andrews on bass — was invited to join Rascal Flatts at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon in November, where they kicked off three days of marathons, 5K and one-mile runs, and a host of music.
Saying farewell to 2015 and hello to 2016 with the release of a new album certainly makes a statement. Featuring 10 tracks, “Live at Sky City” introduces fans to new tunes and revisits some old favorites. The first few, which include “Last Stop Birmingham” and “Gunshy,” kick off like an old friend; there’s something comfortable and familiar about the clean launches into loose vocals, tight drums and wide open pedal steel solos. Without appearing to pay attention to the road and guided by George’s no BS lyrics and effortlessly smooth vocals, “Live at Sky City” drives the audience straight into Americana and life on the road.
The KGB digs deep into the vaults of traditional country with tracks like “Great Unknown (Loving on the Phone)” — a new tune — revealing a soulful, albeit up-tempo, honkytonk lament reminiscent of Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and Alan Jackson. Which, frankly, tells you almost all you need to know about the rest of the live album.
Polished, smooth and melodic, “Live at Sky City” not only highlights the band’s tight-knit live performances, but supports the theory that venues such as Sky City are viable recording spaces. The recording is immaculate, seamless and balanced. It was precisely the sound the band was looking for when planning on the recording. Anticipating the recording back in August, Kenny George said Sky City was the perfect venue for the band both because of the sound and the experience.
“We really love playing Sky City,” he said. “Every time we’ve played there we’ve had a really good time and it’s really good sound.”
Highlights of the album are hard to pinpoint, if only because so many of the tracks are simply easy on the ears, and the album progresses smoothly from one track to the next. However, a couple of gems truly stand out from the rest. “Small Town Radio” and “Shouldn’t Let You Go” lead with Ely’s alluring steel pedal guitar, and ease the audience into tales of lost love and regret, punctuated by rhythmical drums and evocative, sweeping guitar solos. Yes; hip-swaying, foot-stomping and head-bobbing are likely to occur.
“Live at Sky City” delivers almost everything desired from a live album: A flawless live performance of undeniable talent that transports the listener into the KGB’s reality of steamy Southern nights spent with friends and lovers. Yes, please.
Though CDs will be limited, “Live at Sky City” will be available to buy online via iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Spotify. Round off your New Year’s celebrations and catch the band at Southbound Smokehouse on Central Avenue next Friday, January 1, as they play an all-ages show featuring tracks from the new album.