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Interview:
Blackberry Smoke at the Fillmore, 5 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Blackberry Smoke's fifth studio album, "Like An Arrow," was an bit of an accident.

The Southern rock quintet started making some new music during some time off at home in Atlanta earlier this year. The writing went smoothly, and before long Charlie Starr and company realized they had the makings of a quicker-than-expected follow-up to last year's "Holding All The Roses" and had the album out in October.

Haste didn't make waste, either; "Like An Arrow" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums And Americana/Folk Albums chart and Top 5 on the Rock Albums and Independent Albums surveys. It also topped the Rock & Metal Albums, Americana Albums and Independent Albums charts in the U.K.

Clearly, where there's Smoke there's fire, and Starr, 42, is nothing but happy about his group's "accident"...

Blackberry Smoke had "no mission in the beginning," for "Like An Arrow," Starr says by phone from Atlanta. "We found ourselves with a month off in January of 2015," he recalls. "I'd written a bunch of songs and got the guys together to rehearse 'em and get 'em ready, and since we had time off we figured we'd go in and record them. It felt really great and everyone was grinning and it was just a good time, so we said, 'Hell, let's just make a record.'"

The quick decision also led the quintet to produce "Like An Arrow" itself rather than bringing in an outsider. "We figure we're grown men, we can make a record. If we run into a problem we'll call a producer," Starr says. "But we didn't run into a problem. We always are a quick study in the studio. The band's been playing together for 15 years, so it's really not brain surgery. The songs were there, the arrangements were there. It was a matter of getting a great sound to tape, and we had a great engineer."

The group also wound up with a guest appearance from Gregg Allman for the closing track, "Free On The Wing." "When we (recorded) it, it had such a Capricorn (Records), Macon, Ga., feel to it," Starr says. "It was just kind of obvious, 'How great would it be if Gregg would sing on it?' He was on our mind because we'd worked with him not long before. We know Gregg but we knew he might not want to sing on our record. It can be an awkward question but I asked him and he said, 'Send me the song.' So we did and he called back and said, 'I love it. I'll do it' and he came to Atlanta and did it. That was pretty special."

"Like An Arrow's" chart success came as a surprise, Starr says. "It's really great," he notes. "You never expect that. It's really intense, but our fans really love it and that's very important. I love it when people are like, 'Man, I love this. This sounds like you're first album.' That's a real compliment for us."

Blackberry Smoke will be taking time off again this January. Does Starr expect a repeat of the creative surge that led to "Like An Arrow?" "Well, I'm already writing a bunch of new songs, but I don't know if we'll go in the studio," he says. "That's always a good time to do it, when we're home, so we'll see. I doubt we'll have the opportunity to record this early in the album cycle, but you never know. We've got a lot of things cooking right now."

Blackberry Smoke and Whiskey Myers

Thursday, Dec. 29. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are $20-$49.50.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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