Blackberry Smoke / Allman Betts Band / The Wild Feathers @ St. Louis Music Park, St. Louis, MO

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
I can say with great confidence, during my time as a documenter of live music, I have never been to the opening night of a new venue. This night changed all that! Sadly, the opening of St. Louis Music Park was in competition with the Foo Fighters playing right next door at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater.  But St. Louis’s newest venue did manage to wrangle in about 2,000 fans for the grand opening. And personally, I was right where I wanted to be.

Blackberry Smoke, the evening’s headliner, decided to come back from the lockdown in a big way with their Spirit of the South Tour. Touring musicians old and new filled the stage during this 5-hour musical extravaganza! Nothing overly flashy from the bands featured, just honestly good, loud rock and roll! Something that had been missing from my life for way too long!

The St. Louis Music Park is a mid-sized venue holding 4,500 when filled to capacity. As one could imagine, traffic in the area was horrific. But if you did make it in early, you were fortunate enough to catch The Wild Feathers' set. Hailing from Tennessee, this quintet of goodness covers a variety of music tastes. Their well-worn instruments looked like they may have been unearthed at a garage sale. Their tone is pure nostalgia. I had written in my notes these guys sound like the Beach Boys of the South, I’ll stand by that statement! You can hear this vibe on their last effort, Medium Rarities. The Wild Feathers have new music on the way as Alvarado is scheduled for release in October.

Throughout the history of music there are certain names that you automatically associate with their respective bands. When you hear the names Allman and Betts your mind automatically goes to, The Allman Brothers Band. Although their fathers parted company years ago, the legacy lives on through sons Devon Allman and Duane Betts. The Allman Betts Band had been a thought by both musicians for a few years, ut the thought was unable to come to fruition due to their commitments to other projects. All good things come to those whose wait, the combination of Allman and Betts was certainly worth the wait!

Rapidly becoming my favorite band to see and photograph live, Blackberry Smoke only gets better with time! The lockdown certainly did not affect their ability make great live music! If you’ve seen BBS before, the first thing you’ll notice is a few additional band members on stage. Enhancing the BBS experience are Benji Shanks on guitar, Preston Holcomb on percussion, and the Black Bettys on background harmonies. As polished as the new STL Music Park was for its opening night, there was still some dust on the rafters that needed removed. With the opening notes of “Six Ways to Sunday”, that dust was history!

Touring in support of their latest album, You Hear Georgia, BBS has the new material polished up and ready for display. Every song blends seamlessly throughout the set list. Frontman Charlie Starr said it best, “You don’t know how good it feels to be making music again!" I couldn’t agree more! If you listen closely, the band’s influences are subtly blended in to the night. Bits of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimi Hendrix, and Tom Petty are neatly tucked in as intros and breakdowns. The Music Park’s introductory audience appreciated Chuck Berry’s, “Maybellene” as the intro to “Ain’t Got the Blues”.

The opening night of a venue most certainly calls for a proper closing and Blackberry Smoke has got you covered! The spirit of night is stamped all over the encore. Members of The Wild Feathers and Allman Betts rejoin BBS for a toast to southern rock music. Notable tunes included Charlie Daniels Band’s “Trudy”, The Band’s “Up On Cripple Creek”, and The Allman Brothers “Revival” and “Midnight Rider”. BBS and Allman Betts Band gave a special nod to ZZ Top’s recently departed bass player, Dusty Hill, with a cover of “Fool For Your Stockings”. As my night comes to a close, I’m reminded of a quote from a fellow photographer, “missing the Foo Fighters wasn’t a bad thing!’’ A big thanks to St. Louis Music Park for their hospitality and to Blackberry Smoke for having MTC MAG front and center!

Photos of the show are below:

The Wild Feathers
Allman Betts Band
Blackberry Smoke
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Blackberry Smoke / Allman Betts Band / The Wild Feathers @ St. Louis Music Park, St. Louis, MO Blackberry Smoke / Allman Betts Band / The Wild Feathers @ St. Louis Music Park, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 1:00:00 PM Rating: 5
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