One of my favorite magazines is Classic Rock out of England. For those who grew up in the '70s and '80s, it offers new stories on your old favorites and stories on new bands, too. I've discovered dozens of new bands that have become new favorites.
I mention Classic Rock because it recently devoted an issue to Southern rock, writing about Lynyrd Skynyrd (of course), as well as new bands such as Texas Gentlemen, Bishop Gunn and Cadillac Three.
While this is probably sacrilegious and will eradicate my Southern credibility, I've never much liked Southern rock. Certainly there are bands down here that I like, but Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band and similar acts never grabbed me.
Sure, these bands pulled from British blues and rock, the same as Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, whom I enjoy, then added country and barroom boogie. But some of them also added long-winded jamming, and I've never been a fan of musical noodling.
But in the interest of re-establishing some of my Southern cred, here are a few of the Southern rockers I do enjoy.
» Hydra. If you lived in the South and went to concerts, there's a very good chance that you saw this band as an opening act at one time or another. Usually upbeat with a sense of sly humor, these guys released two albums on Capricorn Records, the same label as the Allmans. Hydra never got the big break and faded fairly quickly.
» Blackfoot. Guitarist/vocalist Rickey Medlocke is now one of the guitarists in Lynyrd Skynyrd, but back in the 1980s, Blackfoot seemed on the cusp of stardom with the songs "Train Train," "Highway Song" and "Fly Away." However, it never happened. They made a misguided attempt in 1982 to blend Southern rock with modern synthesizers, even bringing in Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley, but it flopped like a fish out of water.
» Jason & the Scorchers. Blending blazing rock with hardcore country seems like a bizarre and ultimately futile idea, but Jason & the Scorchers made it last from 1982 until 1989, then returned in 1995 and kept going off and on until about 2010.
There are plenty more — Georgia Satellites, the Black Crowes and newer acts such as Black Stone Cherry and Drive-By Truckers — but overall, I'm still not a huge fan of Southern rock in whatever form or sub-genre it takes.
If I have to hand in my official "I'm Southern" card, well, so be it.
Contact Shawn Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.