Interview with Blackberry Smoke
by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
Lamitschka: Country Music has many new fans in Europe, who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who’s never seen or heard you before.
Blackberry Smoke: We call it “southern music.”
Lamitschka: How was the last year for you? What were the highlights?
Blackberry Smoke: We’ve enjoyed tons of highlights, not the least of which are playing sold out shows with Zac Brown Band, Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd. We signed to Zac Brown’s label, Southern Ground Artists.
On a selfish note, I had the great fortune of singing a duet with Mr. George Jones himself at the Ryman Auditorium!
Lamitschka: What’s your latest CD and how’s it doing?
Blackberry Smoke: Our latest release is “Little Piece Of Dixie.” It’s hangin’ in there like a hair in a biscuit.
Lamitschka: How did you choose the title for the CD, is there a story behind it?
Blackberry Smoke: No story really. It is what it is, a “little piece” of where we come from.
Lamitschka: Do you write the songs yourself and if not, how do you go about finding the songs for the your CD?
Blackberry Smoke: I wrote some of em’, we co wrote some of em’, and a few were written by other people. Those were presented to us by friends and we loved them. We’ve never looked for songs elsewhere, but a good song is a good song.
Lamitschka: Please tell us about the songs on your album.
Blackberry Smoke: They are pretty honest. Just songs about life, really. No abstract ideas to speak of.
Lamitschka: What’s the difference between your last CD and the current one?
Blackberry Smoke: The last one was a collection of demos, with the common thread being their “honky tonkishness”. It was a stop-gap between full length albums, in a way.
Lamitschka: Your current single is being played by radio. What do you thing is special about this song that makes people what to hear it?
Blackberry Smoke: It is really a “good time” song. Maybe it makes people forget about their problems for a few minutes.Plus, that’s us and only us playing and singing it.
Lamitschka: What will your next single be?
Blackberry Smoke: A song off our next album, which we are recording now.
Lamitschka: What kind of songs do you like to record the most?
Blackberry Smoke: All of em.
Lamitschka: You did a duet with George Jones and Jamey Johnson.. How did that happen to come about?
Blackberry Smoke: We recorded “Yesterday’s Wine” with George Jones and Jamey Johnson. I asked Jamey to do it with us and he said yes. Our friend in Alabama, Billy Graham, asked Mr. Jones and he said yes. It was beautiful.
Lamitschka: What’s your favorite song among all the songs you’ve recorded and what’s the story behind it?
Blackberry Smoke: I wrote one called, “The Only Thing She Left Behind” and we recorded it live with one mic and a cassette 4 track. It is very low-fi and cool. Definitely one of my favorites.
Lamitschka: How much creative control do you have over your music?
Blackberry Smoke: We’ve pretty much always had the last word.
Lamitschka: Who do you look up musically and how deep do your musical roots run?
Blackberry Smoke: We love everything that is real. Most of that is pre-1975 I guess. Bill Monroe, Charley Patton, Hank Williams, The Stones, Little Feat, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, on and on and on….
Lamitschka: As an artist you have to do so many different things such as recording, touring, doing interviews etc. What do you like best, what’s your favorite activity?
Blackberry Smoke: Playing live is definitely what we live for. That’s the payoff at the end of the day.
Lamitschka: Are you doing anything to take country music beyond it’s current borders or are you happy where it is?
Blackberry Smoke: We’re just trying to make good music and be true to ourselves and our fans.
Lamitschka: What drives you?
Blackberry Smoke: Chasing the great song, and loving music so deeply.
Lamitschka: What’s unique about you that differentiates you from other artists?
Blackberry Smoke: I hope it’s our honesty. And the lack of the two things above.
Lamitschka: Who’s your biggest critic, yourself or others?
Blackberry Smoke: Sarge Lamphier.
Lamitschka: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?
Blackberry Smoke: We spend time with our wives and kids.
Lamitschka: What Prive hopes and desires do you have?
Blackberry Smoke: I wish I could play like Wes Montgomery. And slam dunk like Spud Webb.
Lamitschka: What can your fans expect to see when they see you in concert?
Blackberry Smoke: Good honest Southern music.
Lamitschka: Many music fans today get their information about artists via the internet. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?
Blackberry Smoke: Yes, blackberrysmoke.com. You’ll find everything there.
Lamitschka: What’s the best compliment a fan has ever given you?
Blackberry Smoke: That our music got them through a rough time in life.
Lamitschka: What’s your favorite song that you wish you could have recorded?
Blackberry Smoke: Loving Cup by the Stones.
Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )