Concert Review: Blackberry Smoke (DPAC)

BY MARK DOLEJS Blackberry Smoke brought their version of Southern guitar rock to a full house at the DPAC in Durham on Thursday night. Ev...


Blackberry Smoke brought their version of Southern guitar rock to a full house at the DPAC in Durham on Thursday night. Even with the nice cushy seats, the avid fans stayed on their feet pretty much the whole night, rockin' out with the band.

Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr

Lead vocalist Charlie Starr kept the crowd in the show with his command of the stage and occasionally leading them in a back and forth vocal chant. Starr also plays the guitar and is joined on stage with Paul Jackson and Benji Shanks, both on guitar, for a powerful sound.

Blackberry Smoke's Benji Shanks and Paul Jackson

The band is rounded out with Richard Turner on bass, Brandon Still on keyboards, Preston Holcomb on percussion and Kent Aberle on drums. Aberle was filling in for longtime drummer Brit Turner who is battling brain cancer. When Starr introduced the band, he introduced Turner as the drummer and the audience gave out a loud cheer and Starr said, “hoping Brit can hear this down in Atlanta!”

Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr and Richard Turner

The night was full of some of the bands most popular songs including “Dig A Hole,” “Run Away From It All,” “Waiting For The Thunder” and “Good One Comin’ On.”

Several songs were preceded buy a couple minutes of jamming, including “Lay It All On Me” and “Free On The Wing.” The enthusiastic crowd joined in with the singing on “One Horse Town.”

Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr

After playing “Azalea,” Starr mentioned that it was only the second time they had played the song in front of humans. “Azalea” is one of several songs that Blackberry Smoke played off their new album, Be Right Here, which was released the day after this concert. Also off the new album, the band played “Hammer And The Nail” and “Little Bit Crazy.”

Johnny Stachela and Duane Betts

Finishing off the night, during their three-song encore, Starr invited Duane Betts and Johnny Stachela back on stage to join them for an amazing rendition of “Statesboro Blues.” Betts and his band Palmetto Motel were the opening band for the night.

Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr

I haven’t been to a Southern rock show in quite some time. I grew up with Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws and Blackfoot, and this show brought back some of those old memories. I am so glad I had a chance to take in this show. I am now a fan of Blackberry Smoke!
Photography is an avenue that Mark Dolejs uses to learn about the people and places that cross his path. After more than 30 years as a photojournalist, Mark enjoys concert, macro, and roadside photography. Follow Mark on Instagram at @solidrockpix.

Read Mark's posts here.

Duane Betts and Palmetto Motel

Duane Betts and Palmetto Motel


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