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Blackberry Smoke 

When: Sat., Feb. 2, 9 p.m. 2013
Price: $20
Their current tour offers the guys in Blackberry Smoke the best of both worlds. Some nights, they’re opening for Zac Brown Band, one of country music’s biggest acts. They’re playing huge arenas in front of close to 20,000 fans. Other nights, they’re headlining their own “Ones to Watch” tour, which is hitting all the House of Blues clubs in the nation. “That’s all we’ve ever done is play for people,” says Smoke singer-guitarist Charlie Starr when asked about what it’s like to alternate between clubs and arenas. “The whole adage is that it’s harder to play for ten fans than ten thousand fans. I don’t know if that’s true but it might be.” The band’s latest album, last year’s The Whippoorwill, is finally starting to generate some well-deserved buzz. It’s a great collection of Southern rock-inspired tunes that dip into country and blues while showing off Starr’s consummate songwriting chops. The band’s been dubbed “the new face of blue collar Southern rock,” and that sits well with Starr, who started Blackberry Smoke over ten years ago in Atlanta. “That’s fine with us,” he says, “as long as that carries a noble connotation. I think it does. You can’t take anything away from Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band and the Allman Brothers, but we’re not a bunch of brainless rednecks. We’re trying to make music that moves people, just like those bands did. We can champion the term Southern rock, even though it’s ridiculous. You have to call it something. We’re not a punk band and not a pop band. If that’s where we land, that’s fine with us.” (Jeff Niesel)

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