MUSIC BOX: Jackson turns 100, Skynyrd turns 40

By on August 27, 2014


Lynyrd Skynrd. Photo: Jonathan Warren.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Anthemic and hard rocking, slow burning and lyrically meditative while often threading excessive triple-guitar assaults, the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd defines hard Southern rock. Even beyond the biggest hits (“Free Bird,” “Sweet Home Alabama”), tunes like “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” “Call Me the Breeze,” and “Tuesday’s Gone” resonate the smart, pensive voice of songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, who was killed along with guitarist Steve Gaines and members of the crew in a plane crash on Oct. 20, 1977. Original members Allen Collins, Leon Wilkeson and Huey Thomasson died years later. But the band plays on, and Skynyrd will rock this valley for the final JacksonHoleLive of the summer, coinciding with Jackson’s Centennial Celebration.

“In the midst of their 40th Anniversary Tour, this iconic southern band is gonna blow the roof off of Jackson!” said Mayor Mark Barron.

The lone original member of the band – guitarist Gary Rossington – moved to Jackson Hole with his wife, Dale Krantz, in the mid-80s where they built a log cabin, started a family, and began recording as the Rossington Band. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Rossington moved from Jackson to Atlanta about 17 years ago, but still owns a home in the Jackson area.

“They’re always talking about wolves being a dying breed, and there’s a lot of Native Americans there – [also] a dying breed,” Rossington told ABC News Radio about a phrase he has heard people use in Jackson Hole. “I just think of us and Southern bands and old blues bands and touring bands of the 70s and 80s and 60s. That’s kind of a dying breed now. Everybody’s into pop music and hip-hop and single-act singers that have a lot of dancers on stage with them.”

Last of a Dyin’ Breed, released in 2012, is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s most recent studio effort and it peaked at number 14 on Billboard Chart. This is the band’s best charting (and perhaps the most hard-edged) album since 1977’s Street Survivors, which housed “That Smell” and “What’s Your Name.”

Now, 48 years after teenage friends Van Zandt, Collins and Rossington formed the earliest incarnation of the band, Skynyrd will show how and why they manufactured a template for many of the Southern rock bands that followed. And for once, the band on stage won’t cringe when your buddy yells “Free Bird” at the top of his lungs.

Two opening slots for the Centennial bill will feature Austinite and part-time summer resident Wendy Colonna – a smoky and swampy Americana singer-songwriter – as well as the hot rockabilly chops of teenage up-and-comer Wyatt Lowe and the Ottomatics.

Jackson Hole Live and Town of Jackson Centennial Concert presents Lynyrd Skynyrd with Wendy Colonna and Wyatt Lowe and the Ottomatics, 5 p.m. on Sunday at Snow King Ballfield. Free, all-ages. Doors open at 4 p.m. 

Billygoats gruff


Jonathan Warren and The Billygoats.

Psychobilly folk-grass quartet Jonathan Warren and The Billygoats will bring a progressively gruff evening of music to the Silver Dollar for a two-night weekend run. When they’re not supporting acts like Carolina Chocolate Drops and Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band in their Boise stomping grounds, Warren – joined by cellist and harmony vocalist David Sather and drummer Andrew Smith – is writing music that is uncooked, often rollicking and a soundtrack to a gritty Appalachian campfire jam.

Jonathan Warren and The Billygoats, 7:30 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Silver Dollar Bar. Free. 733-2190.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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