Is the ghost of Ronnie Van Zant happy? Sure, he’ll never get to write any more timeless songs about the Southland, pace the stage in his bare feet, or knock his keyboardist’s teeth out (something he did—twice), but there’s one thing that must bring him some solace—I’m talking about the Drive-By Truckers.
Since 1989, the Athens, Georgia band has written countless great songs in the Southern rock tradition—songs like “The Living Bubba,” “Where the Devil Don’t Stay,” and “Hell No, I Ain’t Happy.” Why, they even released an ambitious 2001 concept album, Southern Rock Opera, about the tragic plane crash that killed Van Zant and left Skynyrd just another meat and potatoes rock band, only without the meat.
Over the years the Drive-By Truckers have attempted to shake the Southern Rock label—there’s less Lynyrd Skynyrd in their sound these days, and more classic rock like the Faces and Tom Petty. But songwriters Patterson Hood and Ray Cooley are still mining the Southern Gothic vein with their lyrics about lawless lawmen and disaster-prone rednecks, murdering preachers and struggling working men just trying scrape by. And that ought to keep Ronnie’s shade satisfied. The guy who wrote “Saturday Night Special” is sure to appreciate DBT’s “When the Pin Hits the Shell”: “You can lie to your mama / You can lie to your race / But you can’t lie to nobody / With that cold steel in your face.”
Drive-By Truckers are touring to promote Go-Go Boots, a radically different slice of vinyl than its predecessors. On what DBT has dubbed its “R&B murder album,” country and Muscle Shoals soul predominate, while the few rockers sound slick and over-produced, with nary a cranked-up guitar, much less three. That said, I’m sure DBT—who are renowned for their raucous live shows—will turn the 9:30 Club into the rowdiest honky tonk north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Like they say, you can’t escape what’s in your bones.
Tell us your favorite Southern artist—Steve Earle, say, or, God forbid Charlie Daniels—and you’ll have a chance to win two tickets to see the Drive-By Truckers play the 9:30 Club on your choice of any one of the nights of their three-night stint:
Our winner will be chosen at noon on Wednesday, December 19, and will have their choice of any one of the three shows. If you don’t want to choose, three-night passes are still available.