Drive-By Truckers sticks to the classics

By by Justin Jacobs

‘ ‘ ‘ Current Pitt students are probably too young to actually remember the heyday of classic… ‘ ‘ ‘ Current Pitt students are probably too young to actually remember the heyday of classic rock. ‘ ‘ ‘ By the time most college students were born in the ’80s, rock ‘n’ roll was more hair metal than Hendrix, and though we likely heard our dads jamming out to Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the family van, we never really got to experience it firsthand. ‘ ‘ ‘ That is, until now. Tonight, two of the biggest traditionalist rock ‘n’ roll bands around, the Drive-By Truckers and The Hold Steady, will hit the Carnegie Library Music Hall to raise the spirits of classic Allman Brothers and Springsteen, respectively. ‘ ‘ ‘ While The Hold Steady tap into the driving guitar rock of The Boss at his finest, the Drive-By Truckers has made the rambling, Southern party jams of the Allman Brothers all its own. ‘ ‘ ‘ That doesn’t mean these bands are stuck in the past ‘mdash; both acts are among the finest rockers on the road today, keeping the spirit of real, raw and raucous rock ‘n’ roll alive. ‘ ‘ ‘ For the Truckers, that couldn’t be truer. The band’s rotating cast of die-hard Southerners has been trekking across the country from its Alabama home unfailingly for more than a dozen years. ‘ ‘ ‘ Southern rock doesn’t get much more Southern than this, with the bluesy guitar riffs, shuffling percussion and thick Southern accents coming through in lyrics about hittin’ the road, hittin’ the bottle and hittin’ hard times. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Some say it’s the heat. I think it’s the racial diversity of the region,’ said singer Patterson Hood in an e-mail interview about the South’s rock’ n’ roll breeding ground. ‘The music dates back to the people who first populated the area ‘mdash; it was largely folks of African and often Irish descent who brought their native music with them.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Whatever the cause, the culture and sound of the South shines strong in the Truckers’ music ‘mdash; and not just because of the Skynyrd similarity. The band’s songs take shape more than your average rock song about love or women. These tunes tell a story, painting portraits of the many characters who give the area its flavor. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Uncle Phil and Aunt Phillis in the Month After the Election,’ for example, is an eight-minute, spoken-word joint with a whiskey bar bass-line that tells the story of two unfortunate souls: ‘Married and tried in vain to have children / Boy did they try / Their attempts were so feverous and rowdy that they were often evicted / They went at it like wild pigs in heat.’ Who said rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t sexy? ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I love the old tradition of telling a story in song and story-telling in general for that matter,’ said Hood. ‘I’m proud to do what we can to carry some of that forward.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ The band truly shines, though, when it takes the stage. ‘ ‘ ‘ The Truckers’ live show has been described as anything from deafening to spectacular, and Hood’s leading of the songs is often compared to that of a preacher leading a faithful congregation. ‘ ‘ ‘ It’s no wonder, then, that while the band has blissfully floated just below the attention of the mainstream, Drive-By Truckers shows often sell out across the country and are filled with fans dancing wildly, enjoying what is undoubtedly one of the most genuine American rock bands in the world today. ‘ ‘ ‘ Hood loves the stage just as much as his fans love to see him on it. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘The best part is always the show itself. I enjoy the camaraderie and the physical grind of it,’ he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ With the band’s latest album, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, getting universally rave reviews, Drive-By Truckers has more material than ever. As Hood believes, there hasn’t been a better time to see the band kick it onstage than now. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We’re all playing better together than ever, [and] everyone is being really creative and getting along really well,’ said Hood. ‘These are truly salad days for Drive-By Truckers.’