I’m a bit late on posting this but here is my write up for the concert back in April.
What better way to spend April 20th than at a concert. And not just any concert, at any venue, but Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown and headliners Blackberry Smoke for one night at the historic and fantastic Surf Ballroom in Clearlake, Iowa.
The SurfBallroom has some pretty strict security, complete with a metal detector wand when you get in and a no re admittance policy should you leave the venue at any time during the night. I actually didn’t mind and even with the tight security, it didn’t hinder the show in any way and went off without a hitch.
Tyler Bryant & The Shake Down consists of co founders Tyler Bryant on Guitar and vocals, and Caleb Crosby on drums. Noah Denny is on bass guitar and vocals, and Grahm Whitford completes the second guitar spot.
The great thing about the band is they have the wild abandonment that comes with Rock and Roll but, they do it with complete precision that will stop you in your tracks and grab you by the throat. It’s as if each song demands you attention and yet, is ferociously fun.
They kick off the show with “Weak and Weaping”, “Criminal Imagination”, and “House on Fire”, in quick, fierce succession. Tyler reminds me of a male version of Joan Jett with total Rock and Roll swagger and mandatory leather jacket. A comparison that I think he would most definitely take as the compliment it was intended to be.
Weeks prior to the show, Tyler reacquired a pink Strat that had been stolen and just returned to him and he played that through “Downtown Tonight” but switches to a white Strat for Muddy Waters “Got My Mojo Workin'”.
Caleb moved to the front of the stage with a solo bass drum as Tyler switched to a Dobro and and they ran through “That’s Alright Momma” and “Rambling Bones”. They finish up the set with “Lipstick Woman” to a huge round of applause.
The entire band is super tight and has a total 80’s rock and roll feel, complete with pumping fists and Tyler throwing the rock horns every time that they are not on his guitar. The crowd may have come for Blackberry Smoke but from hanging around the merch table after their set, they got a ton of new fans, myself included. Each member of the group spent a good amount of time signing everything and taking pictures with everyone that approached them.
By the time Blackberry Smoke steps on stage the crowd at the Surf is ready to continue the party and Blackberry Smoke obliges with a thunderous version of “Testify”, “Nobody Gives A Damn” from the new album Find A Light, “Good One Coming On”, “Waiting for the Thunder”, and “Pretty Little Lies”.
Charlie grabs his Les Paul jr while Paul changes out the Gold Top for a Gibson Hollow Body and roll through “Let It Burn” and “Rock and Roll again”.
I see Richard switches out basses for my favorite in his stable, the Buck Owens painted bass. He is by far the coolest bass player around and while his stage presence is laid back, his monsterous bass playing is anything but laid back.
Richard hits a note that literally shakes the entire ballroom and possibly some houses across the street before the band settles into “Sleeping Dogs Lie”.
If you’re not familiar with a Blackberry Smoke show, this song tends to be the one that is a real treat for any music lover. They generally jam a little and stretch their musical legs including a nice keys solo by Brandon.
This go round they punched in “Come Together” and every member of this great band adds something that pushes the performance to a new level.
The next nine songs were a great mix of all the albums before the Encore where they asked Tyler Bryant and the Shake Down back on stage for a smoldering version of “Not Fade Away” with a little “Who Do You Love” mixed in as well. The interplay between all the guitar players is perfectly placed as Charlie nods here and there as cues for each member to take their turn on lead. Caleb and Noah are next to Britt and the drum set, filling in with some shakers and an extra snare drum.
Blackberry Smoke finished up with “Seems So Far”, an instrumental “Amazing Grace” that led into “Ain’t Much Left of Me” while also thrown in “Three Little Birds” for good measure to finish up the night. When they walk off for the night, you really get the felling that they left it all on stage and it couldn’t have been any better, or any more well done.
I also purchased meet and greet tickets and Charlie Starr, Paul Jackson, Britt and Richard Turner, Brandon Still, and new tour manager Paul Lee couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating to each person that was there. You can tell that they genuinely appreciate the support and enjoy the interactions with the fans.
Another stunning and heart warming fact about the band is that the proceeds for the meet and greets are donated. Recently Blackberry Smoke visited Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta with a $50k check for research. Click Here to see the video and have your heart strings pulled.
If either Tyler Bryant and The Shake Down or Blackberry Smoke are ever your way, get out and see them and support the music that they make. Both websites have their albums available as well as a number of cool items for your musical collections.
The SurfBallroom is a wonderful, historical venue to experience a show, and if it’s a bucket list item, get out and see someone there. The sound is perfect, the staff was great, and it was built for great Rock and Roll.
Also get over to Cheri Poocks FaceBook page to see more of her amazing work. She graciously let me use some of her photographs from both performances that night. He work is stunning.
Thank you as well to Laura Buch for getting me some of her front row photographs to help fill in some gaps as well. The Blackberry Smoke brothers and sisters always come through when you need a lending hand.
Father of 3 beautiful girls and one awesome boy. Husband to a Nicaraguan-born wife who constantly makes life an adventure. Currently unfettered from the shackles of a traditional 9-5 and making the most of it.
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