If you’re a reader of this site, you know that attending hometown shows of Kentucky artists is our favorite activity. So on Saturday we loaded up and headed to Glasgow for night two of Black Stone Cherry’s sold-out performances at the historic Plaza Theatre.
The guys all grew up in and around the small nearby community of Edmonton. They formed several years ago and have had a tremendous run over the last 12 years or so. After releasing several albums under the Roadrunner Label, the band left for greener pastures and ultimately ended up at Mascot Records.
So with a new found freedom and total control over their creativity and direction, the guys have continued to not only survive, but to thrive in the world of streaming and illegal downloads. That’s not only a testament
to their talent, but also their commitment. What do I mean by that? Glad you asked. In the world of modern-day rock and roll, it is almost unheard for a band to never go through a member change. But these guys, they’re different. They’re more family than friends. They have grown up together and they’ve helped each other become the men they are today. Probably doesn’t hurt that each of them are humble and gracious. From a fans point of view, the fact that they don’t charge folks for meet and greets is also a bonus. They know that fans are their boss, so they take care of folks and if you were to ask 1000 people in the music business about Black Stone Cherry, you’d get 999 folks say they’re some of the nicest guys in music. It would have been 1000, but there is always that one a-hole. Hehe
The guys try and set up special shows for their Kentucky fans and in doing so, they also give back at each show. Every two years, they try and play a show around Glasgow. In fact, these two shows benefit several local charities. Portions will go to both the Barren River Animal Welfare Society Association and The Center For Courageous Kids. If you ain’t down with that, then we just can’t be friends!
To say that I’m honored to even be in the building would be the understatement of the year. Charity makes my heart swell and so do these talented young men.
After busting out of the gate at a blistering pace where the up-tempo face melting anthems of “Burnin'”, “Rain Wizard”, “Me And Mary Jane”, and “Bad Habit”, Black Stone Cherry did what they do best. They turned moments into memories.
Please allow me to explain. My philosophy has always been that memories are the only thing we can take with us, that is truly ours. Both literally and spiritually. For example, during “In My Blood”, I’ll always remember how the band drops out and the crowd becomes an entire choir of backing vocals. That’s my memory. The other 1000 or however many were in the room will have an entirely different memory.
And that unique ability is what keeps me coming back. In the early days, the guys were headbanging machines. Then they evolved into the guys that have the drummer who used to play a bass solo with his drum sticks. Then to the guys who all played behind their heads. Then into the powerhouse juggernaut that are respected across the globe. No one refers to them as that band or those guys anymore. Chris, Ben, Jon and John Fred are all spoken to as the amazing and talented young men that I’ve gotten to know over time.
And as a fellow Kentuckian, that makes me damn proud.
After tearing through their hit, “Like I Roll”, Black Stone Cherry played one of my personal favorites, especially as a Dad myself, in “My Last Breath”. Sure the story is Chris’s, but I relate on every possible level.
See here’s the thing, Black Stone Cherry are like musical chameleons. They can hit you with 30 seconds of Death Metal, then transition flawlessly into a heart string tugger like “My Last Breath” and then run you over with a song like “Lonely Train”. If you’re lucky enough to survive that, then they hit ya with a twangy countryesque tune like, “Cheaper To Drink Alone”, but add in some Jimi Hendrix and a mini drum solo before bringing it all back together to finish the song.
Which brings me to my next point, witnessing BSC in concert isn’t an event, it is truly an experience. They leave absolutely nothing in the tank. There just is no possible way they could give their fans more on that stage. Every. Single. Night.
Guitarist Ben Wells and Bassist Jon Lawhon switch sides at a blistering pace, all the while Ben is bouncing around giving flying Elvis kicks to the invisible army of ninjas onstage. I mean, they’re everywhere, so it’s gotta be some kind of ninjas! But, then you add to that the human version of the classic Muppets character “Animal” on the drums in John Fred Young and in all honesty, Vocalist Chris Robertson could just stand still and deliver, but he doesn’t. Chris feels every single note he plays and delivers one of the best “guitar faces” in the business. If the note is nasty, Chris expresses that as good as anyone. In fact, outside of Jonny Lang, I feel he delivers it better than anyone.
Next, the guys took us to “Soul Creek” where we all danced, “Just Like James Brown.” But it was the next song I want to talk about. I lost my Dad to cancer a little over 10 years ago. During the months and years after, two songs helped me heal and every year I lean on them. One is “Jordan” by Rival Sons. The other? “Things My Father Said.”
Now, I don’t tell you that to make you sad, because this story isn’t sad. Let me explain. I have cried twice at a concert. I’m a grown man and I am not afraid to admit that. The first was at a Chris Stapleton show the day that the world lost both Troy Lee Gentry and my personal favorite artist of all time, Mr. Don Williams. That night I cried over a voice that had been a part of my entire life, in Don Williams. But on Saturday night, I cried again. This time though, I cried tears of joy as they played, “Things My Father Said”. Why? Because for four minutes or so, my eyes were closed and my Dad was there with me and that’s a moment that I will cherish forever.
The rest of the set saw the band step on the gas again playing tunes like “Blind Man”, the song that started it all in “Lonely Train”, the loudest sing-a-long of the night in “Blame It On The Boom Boom”, “White Trash Millionaire” and “Family Tree. Which is the title track of their latest album. All those were awesome, don’t get me wrong, but the song that they snuck in the middle of all those was “Hoochie Coochie Man” and it’s ALWAYS a favorite when they pull this one outta the ole back pocket!
I have a somewhat funny story for ya, I was at a Buddy Guy show years ago and Buddy played his version of “Hoochie Coochie Man” and all I could think of was how awesome the BSC version of the track was. Here I am, in the presence of greatness and my mind came right back to my Kentucky brethren. But in all honesty, the Blues and Soul that BSC brings, just so happens to be the biggest reason that I love and respect this band so much. They’re true to their roots. They’ve done their homework and they honor the Blues like few can.
The band took their bow and left Chris alone on the stage. He spoke briefly about how much these home shows mean to him and the band and he ended the night with the song that nearly takes their breath away when they perform it. Just Chris, his guitar and a sold-out crowd singing “Peace Is Free” in unison. It was absolutely beautiful and it was also when Glasgow, KY turned a moment into a memory for Chris, Ben, Jon and John Fred.
We were honored to be a part of this event and I truly hope you’ve enjoyed your time spent on this site and the photos below help transport you there with us. Thanks for reading!!