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Blackberry Smoke // Live @ Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion // 10.15.21

Article and photos by: Wendy Podmenik Darugar

PORTSMOUTH, VA- Blackberry Smoke: one of the greatest southern rock bands ever- but you don’t know that yet. You will see, it’s coming. They will be up there with Lynryd and the Allmans.

With a rich catalogue of seven studio albums packed full of songs both catchy and soulful, you can’t help but fall in love with this band. They are here for a good time, and you are invited to the party. You are family and they address you as such. Brothers and sisters, please enjoy the show.

The boys are Georgia proud, from their southern accents to their twangy, funky and jammy beat. A Piggly Wiggly image featured on the drum set (from the grocery store found in every small town) and the latest album titled You Hear Georgia bring that message home. The band is introduced onstage according to their names and their home counties, three “brothers” in the band from Cobb county alone.


Breaking into the evening with “Payback’s a Bitch”, “Six Ways to Sunday” followed immediately afterward and then the Smoke jumped into a funky track from newest album, “Live it Down”.

Hit after hit poured forth, notably “Pretty Little Lie” and “Waiting for the Thunder”. Vocalist Charlie Starr asked the crowd, “Ya’ll feel like boogying tonight?” and a bongo beat lead into “Hey Delilah”. A transition followed into the smooth and dreamy “Medicate My Mind” plus “Sleeping Dogs” and the audience was thoroughly into the groove. Time was taken to also pay some respect to Tom Petty during the set.

Taking a return dive back into the new album, the Smoke paid tribute to home with title track “You Hear Georgia”.

You see Georgia when you look down on me
From the top of that mountain where you’ll always be
I wanna reach up sometime and shake your tree
But you’ll fall soon enough, I guess I’ll let it happen naturally”

Charlie Starr made special note that this year marked twenty years of touring. Instead of internet glitz and glamour, the band uses tours and forming relationship bonds to strengthen their base. Friendships are made and the band makes a point to be warm and accessible to all.

The evening wound up with the great “One Horse Town” as part of the encore. The setting at the Pavilion in Portsmouth helped make the evening perfect one, as the open air venue is situated right on the water and the cool fall breeze comfortably swept across the grounds.

For an album that wasn’t originally intended to be focused on the home state, You Hear Georgia asks listeners to question negative stereotypical assumptions about the south. Blackberry Smoke makes plain that there is a richness of history, of culture, and of talent that are being continually mined from down home, and it is appreciated.


Wendy Podmenik Woodell
Since entering the world of photography in 2013, WENDY PODMENIK has focused her interest on live music. Her ultimate goal is to successfully present the live music genre as an art form which preserves the expression, emotion, and energy of specific moments in time. ////// GLENN WOODELL spends his musical time working both on and around the stage. He's spent decades behind the lens as a visual artist, and for his career, studied human vision as a scientific researcher. His time on the stage these days is either spent holding on to a bass guitar or a camera.