"Another workin' week is over/No chance of stayin' sober/I can feel a good one comin' on..."
Those of us lucky enough to hear those words in 2009, knew it instantly: A good one was comin' on. The Blackberry Smoke song announced the arrival of a potent new voice in rock.
They had already been a band for the best part of a decade, honing their chops and their vision. The last two decades has seen them work with the legends – the Black Crowes, Billy Gibbons, Warren Haynes and Gregg Allman – and tour with the likes of Eric Church, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
They've played Glastonbury, added a bit of welcome rock to Jools Holland's TV show, and alongside Rival Sons, Cadillac Three, Black Stone Cherry et al, led a revival in classic American rock.
The result of all that hard work and great songwriting has been five Top 30 UK albums, including one Top 10 (not to mention topping the UK Rock albums chart three times).
New album You Hear Georgia, recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb, takes it up another gear. Play your muso snob mates Hey Delilah and tell them it's a lost song by The Band. They'll love it. The title track, meanwhile, will turn the heads of those guys who think rock died around the same time as the Skynyrd plane crash.
This is a band with soul and groove, switching genres with ease – and with love. A band who can boogie like ZZ Top (or even Quo), who can rock like Aerosmith and the Stones, can be as tender and as epic as Little Feat and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and can knock out classic pop songs like Tom Petty. It's no surprise: they're a band in love with rock's rich history.
“The first time I heard The Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Women, I realised that it was a country song with loud guitars and big drums!” frontman Charlie Starr told Classic Rock. “It’s funny, if you read interviews with the Allmans and Lynyrd Skynyrd, when they’re talking about which bands influenced them from the era, they were mostly British bands like Cream and Free and obviously The Rolling Stones. It’s weird: a strange, recycled thing. The British bands had been influenced by American blues and R&B musicians, and they gave the world their take on that in the 60s, and then these young American guys offered their take in turn."
We caught up with them last month in Orlando, Florida, helping ease the world out of lockdown. They gave our sister site MusicRadar a full behind-the-scenes look at their gear. For Louder? Six exclusive live performances that'll whet your appetite for You Hear Georgia and the return of live music.
Those old guys who think rock died around the same time as the Skynyrd plane crash? They don't know what they're missing.