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Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood happy on his own

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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Patterson Hood is decidedly dedicated to his band, Drive-By Truckers, and remains its frontman and chief songwriter. But he says that his latest solo album, "Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance," and touring to support it has been "one of my favorite things I've done in a long time."

"One thing about it is that what I'm doing on this solo tour is so much harder than what I do with the Truckers, just on a technical level" says Hood, the son of Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section bassist David Hood and co-producer of Bettye LaVette's Grammy Award-nominated album "The Scene of the Crime. "Singing these (solo) songs is so much harder to sing than anything with the Truckers. It really is a great kind of challenge."

Hood acknowledges that "Heat Lightning..." was born out of feeling "burned out" after recording consecutive Drive-By Truckers albums, "The Big To-Do" and "Go-Go Boots," during 2010. The solo album actually started as a book, which he thought would be "a good escape I could just write in the back of the bus." Before long, however, his inherent musical nature took over the project.

"It was coming along pretty well as a book, but I put it down for awhile, and when I thought about re-addressing it the floodgates opened up and all these songs came out," Hood recalls. "The first few (songs) were very related to (the book), the rest not as much.

"It's probably the quickest I've ever turned around a record from when I decided I was going to make one to when it was mastered. It was maybe seven months, eight months -- which if you know me is lightning speed. So that was fun, and very refreshing."

Patterson Hood & the Downtown Ramblers and T. Hardy Morris perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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