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Blackberry Smoke, The Cadillac Three rock it

House of Blues, Anaheim, Cal., July 26, 2017

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

If you didn't know Blackberry Smoke appeals to Southern rock fans, the guy wearing the 'F-ing Skynyrd shirt might have given you a clue. But when Duane Betts, son of Allman Brothers guitarist Dicky Betts, took the stage to play the Allmans' "Blue Sky," there was no doubt.

This was a night of loud electric guitars, always augmented by soulful organ and piano. The band played "Six Ways to Sunday," which likely left many yearning for the heyday of The Black Crowes again. The set drew liberally from the band's "Like an Arrow" album, and the act played to a crowd comprised of young rockers, rowdy country fans and gray-haired guys old enough to remember all those great '70s Southern rock bands.

This was not a concert intended for honky tonk country music fans. However, if set side by side with Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line, this music was at least as country as these artists get. And when Charlie Star, who handled both lead vocals and lead guitar, tamped it down with an acoustic guitar for the small-town blues of "One Horse Town," it made for one authentic country moment.

The Cadillac Three opened as a trio consisting of a steel guitarist, electric guitarist and drummer. However, steel guitarist Kelby Ray played more like a rock lead guitarist, so this was nowhere close to traditional country music. The group bragged of its wild ways with "Bury Me in My Boots," but gloried in its roots with "The South."

Although derivative, Blackberry Smoke is nevertheless the real deal. Honestly, if today's bro-country dudes wrote songs as good as the Allman Brothers, the radio would certainly sound a whole lot better. But don't think Hank done it this way. But if Hank had grown up in the '70s Georgia or Alabama, he'd have likely been a proud Southern rocker. So. No shame here; just good, loud Southern music.

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