by Ryan Snyder

Upcoming shows you should check out


The ascension of Blackberry Smoke into the ranks of great southern rock bands isn’t all that hard to deconstruct. They pride themselves in never having left a fan wanting in their nearly 15 years almost constantly on the road. Their three studio albums in that time are all rock solid affairs that channel the right, if predictable influences, with songs that drill straight to the heart of anyone who has ever spun a copy of Skynyrd’s Gold & Platinum down to dust. Over countless performances they’ve fine-tuned their sound with relatable hooks that are as blue collar as oily coveralls without cow-towing to the country radio wedge issue du jour, and singer and lead guitarist Charlie Starr is bona fide in rock, country, soul and blues with a riff and hook worth hearing in them all. All that, plus, there just aren’t that many truly great southern rock bands any more. The Drive-By Truckers have been spinning their tires on winning new fans for three albums now (notice how Jason Isbell has completely blown past them in that time?), and the Zac Brown Band got too big too fast to wear blue collars with any real believability.

Blackberry Smoke, on the other hand, keeps paying dues. Their most recent release is a testament to their remarkable live presence, but also one with local context. Leave A Scar: Live In North Carolina was recorded in April 2013 right before a sold-out crowd at Ziggy’s, a feat which they repeated there just five months later. Well, they’re back this Friday night at the room that can’t contain them, only this time they’re taking the show outdoors. Blackberry Smoke should hit the stage right at sundown after Drake White and Old Southern Moonshine Revival, in plenty of time for the working crowd to catch up. And hey, check out “Good One Comin’ On” where Starr sings “Another workin’ week is over/No chance of stayin’ sober” to see they have a song for that, also. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and the music starts at 5:30 p.m.


Summer’s hit its zenith and actual tough guys are publicly trying to bully Rick Ross into not playing high profile ensemble rap concerts, so it has to be Superjam season. The annual people-watching and rap free-for-all happens this Friday night at the Greensboro Coliseum, and unless you’re there to party, it’s wise to steer clear of High Point Road altogether. This year features the return of the MMG boss as its overall headliner, if mostly because his last album just wasn’t good enough to thrust him into the ranks of rappers respected enough to transcend these types of glorified showcases. Think of him as a sort of a ratchet Keith Urban; good performer, solid base, but there’s a rather low ceiling on how seriously he can be taken. That’s okay, because the undercard for this year is the best it’s had since Lil Jon and Nas played. Consequently, Yo Gotti of the infectious jam “Yayo” is the Willow to Ross’s Buffy “” a cheaper version, but equally effective. Drill further down, however, and you start to hit gold.

Atlanta’s stranglehold on the best in club-ready rap is perpetuated by a guy who often gets derided for his shortage of complex wordplay, but is vastly under-appreciated for the one-of-a-kind sonic properties of his voice. Young Thug does so much with a vocal presentation that relies less on an agile flow and more on a tuneless, magnetic rhythm that he actually transcends his own verses in a post-textual sense. His run this year began in late 2013 with the still-omnipresent jam “Danny Glover” (“Money stand up eight feet just like twooooo midgets”), but more recently includes the terrific mixtape Black Portland and a good follow-up with Gucci Mane called The Purple Album. Maybe the only mid-level rapper having a better year than Young Thug is YG, who unfortunately gets stuck in one of the 20-minute slots despite owning maybe the best rap record this year of anyone not named Freddie Gibbs. My Krazy Life stands out with clever wordplay and hypnotic beats, but his time slot guarantees it’s going to all be given the medley treatment. K Camp and Kid Ink will also perform, and they’re okay, too. Tickets start at just $10. TEN DOLLARS.