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Blackberry Smoke at the Fillmore Detroit, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Blackberry Smoke frontman Charlie Starr says that he enjoyed the Southern rock group’s last two album cycles “immensely.” And with good reason.

Both of the Atlanta quintet’s most recent titles, 2015’s “Holding All The Roses” and 2016’s “Like An Arrow,” debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard Rock and Country Albums charts. That gives the group confidence for the upcoming “Find A Light,” which is due out on April 6.

The set finds Blackberry Smoke’s members again producing themselves, while a corps of guests -- Robert Randolph, the Wood Brothers and Amanda Shires -- appear on a few tracks. Response to pre-release tracks such as “Flesh And Bone,” “Best Seat In The House” and “Let Me Down Easy” have been positive, giving reason to believe that where there’s Smoke, there’s still going to be some fire...

• Starr says that Blackberry Smoke approached “Find A Light” much like its predecessors. “There was no grand design,” he notes by phone. “We tour most of the year and then I write a batch of songs, and if they’re good enough we go record ‘em. It’s generally the way that it happens with us these days. That’s a simple way to do think about doing it, and it’s pretty efficient.”

• “Find A Light” also showcases Blackberry Smoke’s stylistic diversity, from heavy rock to gentle balladry and twangy country. “We really enjoy an endless amount of freedom,” Starr says. “I think all of our records are pretty varied and they get more and more so with each record. I think we’re sort of challenging ourselves, like ‘Hey, let’s do something that’s more like this’ or ‘Let’s do something that’s less like this’ or ‘What if we went this far with it?’ There’s nothing better than being able to do what you want, musically. I have friends that don’t enjoy that freedom, and it must really suck.”

• Starr wrote several songs for the album with former Buckcherry guitarist Keith Nelson. “He and I have been friends maybe 25 years and we’ve never worked together before in that regard. We’ve just been friendly for years,” Starr says. “He called one day and just said, ‘Hey, you want to write some songs?’ and I thought, ‘OK, that’s something we’ve not done but, hey, let’s do it.’ And before I knew it we had written five, six songs. It was very inspiring for me.”

• As the album’s title suggests, “Find A Light’s” songs have a loose theme of people looking for hope during hard times. “The majority of the songs seemed to be a little more optimistic than the last album -- I don’t know why, in this climate, ‘cause it definitely seems more desperate now than ever in my life,” Starr says. “But maybe that’s it; Maybe what everyone needs is a little more optimism.”

• Starr adds that as time has gone on Blackberry Smoke has gotten better at separating the recording process from its live work. “Some people don’t understand that it is two completely different things,” Starr explains. “We’ve made a couple records where we just set up and played live and that’s cool, but how many times can you do that? It’s like, ‘OK, do we want to do that again or create something that has more to hear, more to listen to?’ Somebody once said one of our records was overproduced, and I was like, ‘That’s because we produced more sound. We gave you more to listen to.”

If You Go

• Blackberry Smoke and Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown

• Saturday, March 10. 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

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