Blackberry Smoke never stands still.
According to lead singer Charlie Starr, the group doesn’t just tour when it releases albums, but rather remains in a constant state of touring.
But the musicians love every minute of it.
The Southern rock quintent brings its “Like An Arrow” tour to the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes-Barre, on Friday, June 23, at 8 p.m., with opening act the National Reserve.
“We play a bit of a different show each night, never the exact same song order or song list,” Starr said in a recent phone interview from his Atlanta home. “It’s not choreographed, we don’t have any explosions or backflips. It’s just five guys playing a bit of rock ‘n’ roll. We’ll pull some from each record with a surprise here and there. We really try to cover as much ground as possible in two hours.“
Blackberry Smoke is made up of Starr on lead vocals and guitar, Richard Turner on bass and vocals, Brit Turner on drums, Paul Jackson on guitar and vocals and Brandon Still on keyboards.
The songs on the rock outfit’s sixth album, “Like An Arrow,” were influenced by various aspects of the musicians’ lives, the people around them and even sometimes influenced from media or books they’ve absorbed, Starr said.
“Each of our albums are different. There’s not one that sounds like the last one,” Starr said. “That’s done on purpose because we want to keep it fresh for ourselves and the fans, too. This one has some moments that might be something different, whether its funkier or heavier, but we’re always about variety and keeping it fresh.”
The album reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Country and Americana/Folk charts.
After forming in 2001, the fivesome developed a blue-collar work ethic and road rules attitude by averaging 250 shows per year. Their willingness to jam for hours developed their grassroots fan base, which continues to grow with each show.
“Musically, I think we’ve evolved quite a bit,” Starr said. “We played together almost 17 years now … we finally found our thing. I think that we’ve learned how to tour better. In the early days, we just beat ourselves to death. But we learned to be smarter about it, that takes a team. We learned how to sustain ourselves.”
Over the years, the group played through major venues including Madison Square Garden, Red Rocks and the Hollywood Bowl. Blackberry Smoke created music alongside some of the industry’s biggest names, including the late Gregg Allman and Grammy Award-winning producer Brendan O’Brien, and toured with the likes of ZZ Top, Zac Brown Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“We just want to continue on the path we’re on,” Starr said. “Just try to make the best records we can and continue to take the music to the people.”
— charlotte l. jacobson


If you go
What: Blackberry Smoke with opening act the National Reserve
When: Friday, June 23; doors at 6:30 p.m.,
show at 8
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 570-826-1100 or online at kirbycenter.org.

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