There is not a better place to be outdoors and enjoying a rock n roll show than the Coca-Cola Pavilion at Destination Daytona, located in Ormond Beach, Florida on an early January evening. Fans crowded into the open air pavilion to see Blackberry Smoke on consecutive nights, January 7 & 8, 2022. Temperatures were in the low 70’s when the opener Ward Davis took the stage at around 7:20pm. By the time Blackberry Smoke brought their Southern Charm front and center, it felt like just another spring night in Florida as the temperature seemed to rise in the pavilion.
Ward Davis came down from Nashville to open the show and he just happen to mention that when he left home it was just plain cold and he was happy to be in Florida. Davis made the trip just to open for Blackberry Smoke’s two Destination Daytona events. Then he is back to Nashville until later in the month when he returns to Florida for three headlining shows. Ward Davis has had songs recorded by Trace Adkins, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Sammy Kershaw, Bucky Covington, Wade Hayes, Jimmie Van Zant, Buddy Jewel, Carolina Rain, The Roys, and more. He performed with a four piece band with lots of smoke on stage. At times the band was engulfed in stage smoke and almost disappeared, it did however add to the light show.
The set lasted just 40 minutes and was just about the right amount of time to let the crowd settle into the venue. There was a VIP section with folding chairs sectioned off in front of the stage. The rest of the crowd was standing general admission along the sides and behind the VIP section. Under the roof of the pavilion and to the rear of the venue were concession booths and merchandise tables.
Blackberry Smoke has been making music since the year 2001 with releasing seven studio albums and two live albums. Originally back in 2018, I thought I was covering a southern rock band, similar to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Both lineups have three guitar players and they are categorized as Southern Rock? But I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case and this band was completely different from any band I have ever seen. They have been known to play a Skynyrd song on occasion, and this night was no different as they played “Call Me The Breeze” in their encore. But, Blackberry Smoke is much more as they crossover to country, blues, and rock. This fusion of music keeps them from being pigeon-toed into being called one dimensional and I believe it widens their base.
Blackberry Smoke started the show with “All Over The Road” from their their 2021 album You Hear Georgia. The band played five of the ten tracks of the 2021 release, leaving out the title track, “You Hear Georgia” which I thought was odd. Non the less there was plenty of material for a 22 song show, including some of my favorites “Sleepin Dogs,” “One Horse Town,” and “All Rise Again.” Things were tipped off when Brandon Still showcased his talents and the late great Billy Powell with “Call Me The Breeze.”
Singer Charlie Starr handles the guitar, vocals and visual entertainment as he twirls and moves about the stage. The rest of the band is really tight and made of very good musicians. Paul Jackson on lead guitar has been with the band since it’s inception, along with the Turner brothers; Richard on bass and Brit on drums. Brandon Still was added on keyboards in 2009. In 2020, guitarist Benji Shanks and percussionist Preston Holcomb joined the band expanding their sound.
I am fortunate to live in Florida south of Atlanta, Georgia, the home of Blackberry Smoke! This proximity allows Floridians like me to “Hear Georgia” and see the band often, if not yearly. I have reviewed Blackberry Smoke five times in the past four years. You may ask yourself, don’t their shows gets old? I would answer no, and in my opinion, they get better every time I see them.
Charlie Starr – Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar
Paul Jackson – Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Benji Shanks – Lead Guitar, Slide Guitar
Brandon Still – Keyboards
Richard Turner – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brit Turner – Drums
Preston Holcomb – Percussionist
1.) All Over The Road
3.) Six Ways To Sunday
4.) Like I Am
5.) Good One
6.) Crimson Moon
7.) Let It Burn
8.) Best Seat
9.) Sleepin Dogs
10.) Lonesome For A Livin
11.) Holy Ghost
12.) You Got Lucky
13.) Ain’t Got The Blues
14.) Wheels Fall Off
15.) All Rise Again
16.) Free On The Wing
17.) One Horse Town
19.) Up In Smoke
20.) Old Scarecrow
21.) Call Me The Breeze
22.) Ain’t Much Left
Follow Blackberry Smoke Online:
Follow Ward Davis Online:
Photographer and Editor/Founder of AllMusicMagazine.com. My love of live music has taken me to incredible experiences with the top bands of all time in stadium shows to the smallest venues with equally inspiring musicians. Using the medium of photography and my publication, these memories will last forever.