Friday Night with Guitar George: Drivin’ N Cryin’ Edition


Have you ever seen the Blue Ridge Mountains, boy?
Or the Chattahoochee
Or the honeysuckle blue?

-Drivin’ N Cryin’
“Honeysuckle Blue”

Earlier this year Drivin’ N Cryin’ was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame–an honor well-deserved and, some would say, long overdue. The band’s leader, Kevn (sic) Kinney, is not only a talented singer and excellent songwriter, he is also a very gifted guitar player capable of seamlessly moving back and forth from rhythm to lead.

To call Drivin’ N Cryin’ a Southern rock band would be to unfairly pigeonhole a band whose music goes well beyond the archetype. Imagine if Lynyrd Skynyrd played Aerosmith songs in addition to their own and you will get a ballpark idea of Drivin’ N Cryin’s style. The band formed in 1985 in Atlanta, and apart from Kevn Kinney and bassist Tim Nielsen there have been several personnel changes over the years, but they continue to record and tour. Our friend @ohkiv saw them in concert a few months ago and posted this enthusiastic review of the show. Good stuff.

The band’s signature song, “Honeysuckle Blue,” is a magnificently crafted song in which the natural beauty of the Georgia landscape is juxtaposed against a psychological landscape fraught with lost dreams and empty promises while the singer hovers between feeling “lost and found and lost again.” Unlike many of the music videos produced at the time, the 1989 video for “Honeysuckle Blue” is very nicely done and the imagery actually reflects the themes of the song. There are numerous live versions of “Honeysuckle Blue” floating around on the internet, each one slightly different yet all of them good. One particularly impressive version of it features Warner Hodges on guitar and it is linked in the aforementioned concert review.

For tonight, I offer you a handful of songs recorded in 2012 at Loveless Café and Barn in Nashville as part of the ongoing Music City Roots series. The band’s lead guitarist at the time was a young man named Sadler Vaden who joined the band fifteen years after seeing them in concert when he was nine years old.

R.E.M.: In this tribute to another excellent band from Georgia, Kevn plays guitar in the style of R.E.M.’s Peter Buck while Sadler and Tim provide great harmony vocals.

Straight to HellA concert favorite whose boozy singalong chorus softens the blow of the song’s poignant lyrics.

Blues On Top of BluesThis barn burner lives up to its title with Kevn and Sadler both laying down some heavy stuff, and you gotta love Kevn’s sampling of the Beatles and Donna Summer.

For tonight’s featured video, I chose “Ain’t Waitin on Tomorrow” for of the funky-bluesy riff with which Kevn opens the song, for Sadler’s smoking guitar work from 2:02 to 3:05, and for the excellent lyrics. Good stuff indeed.

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