Blackberry Smoke’s new rendition of Wet Willie’s “Keep On Smiling” featuring special guest Jimmy Hall, is debuting today. Watch/share a new performance video HERE. An original member of Wet Willie, Hall joined Blackberry Smoke at Capricorn Sound Studios earlier this year to record the track—the same place that it was first recorded in 1974. This month also marks the 46th anniversary of the song’s original release.
Of returning to the studio, Hall shares, “This is always where we wanted to come and record. We finally made it in 1970 and it’s just exhilarating. To come back and really relive that, it’s very special. I have to thank Charlie Starr and Blackberry Smoke for thinking about me.”
In conjunction with the song, the band has also created a new campaign, #KeepOnSmiling, as a symbol of positivity and support as well as a tribute to essential workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the #KeepOnSmiling video HERE.
The track is the latest unveiled from Blackberry Smoke’s special new EP, Live From Capricorn Sound Studios, which will be released June 19 with a portion of all proceeds going to the Recording Academy’s MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. Recorded earlier this year at Capricorn Sound Studios in Macon, GA, the project consists of six new versions of songs that have special ties to the historic studio and town and will be released as a lead up to the band’s anticipated “Spirit of the South Tour: A Celebration of Southern Rock and Roll Music.” Produced by Blackberry Smoke, the EP is now available for both CD and vinyl pre-order.
Ahead of the release, the band’s new version of “Midnight Rider,” originally recorded by The Allman Brothers Band, recently premiered at Relix in celebration of two special anniversaries: the formation of The Allman Brothers Band on March 26, 1969 and the release of “Midnight Rider” on the same day in 1971. The track has a special connection to Capricorn Sound Studios as Gregg Allman broke into the studio to record the song’s original demo. Blackberry Smoke lead singer Charlie Starr also plays Duane Allman’s iconic Goldtop Les Paul guitar in the band’s new version. Watch the live performance video HERE.
The new project marks a significant moment in Capricorn Sound Studios’ history as it was the first time a major band has done a professional recording at the studio in over 40 years. Additional songs featured on the EP are renditions of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Take The Highway,” The Allman Brothers Band’s “Revival,” Little Richard’s “Southern Child” and Wet Willie’s “Grits Ain’t Groceries.” The EP also features background vocals from The Black Bettys.
In conjunction with this new project, the band will embark on their extensive “Spirit of the South Tour: A Celebration of Southern Rock and Roll Music” later this year, which will feature special guests The Allman Betts Band, The Wild Feathers and founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, Jaimoe. Created in celebration of the various roots and influences within Southern music, every show will conclude with a unique collaborative finale, which will feature Blackberry Smoke, The Allman Betts Band, The Wild Feathers, Jaimoe and additional surprise guests showcasing the inspirations of Rock, Blues, Gospel and Soul music.
Additionally, for the first time ever, Blackberry Smoke is partnering with The Allman Brothers Band Museum At The Big House—located in Macon, GA—to bring the band’s storied history on the road with a new mobile set up. The museum will feature never-before-seen archival items including original hand-written lyrics, awards, rare family photographs, iconic pieces of clothing and jewelry, one-of-a-kind instruments played by the band and more. Jaimoe will also be onsite at the museum and available for meet and greet opportunities at each stop. All “Spirit Of The South Tour” ticket holders will be granted free access to the museum with $1 of each ticket donated to The Allman Brothers Museum at the Big House to help preserve its history and heritage. See below for complete tour itinerary. All currently scheduled dates are subject to change.
The “Spirit of the South Tour” adds to a landmark series of years for Blackberry Smoke, who recently returned to the studio with Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb to begin work on their next album, including a new song with Jamey Johnson. The new music follows the release of their latest full-length album, Find A Light, which debuted as the best-selling Country and Americana/Folk album in the country, entered at #3 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #2 on the Billboard Americana/Folk Albums chart in 2018. Of the album, NPR Music praises, “pushes the envelope while providing that famous Blackberry Smoke autonomy, delivered with soulful vocals, haunting harmonies and kick ass songs.” After the release of Find A Light, Blackberry Smoke released two additional projects—a live album and concert film, Homecoming: Live In Atlanta (stream/purchase here)—which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Americana/Folk Album Sales chart—and a 6-song acoustic EP, The Southern Ground Sessions (stream/purchase here).
Blackberry Smoke is Charlie Starr (vocals, guitar), Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals), and Brandon Still (keyboards). Since their debut in 2004, the band has independently released six full-length records and has toured relentlessly, building a strong and loyal community of fans. In addition to their work as musicians, Blackberry Smoke remains committed to charitable work and has raised nearly $500,000 benefiting children’s cancer research.
LIVE FROM CAPRICORN SOUND STUDIOS TRACK LIST
1. Midnight Rider
2. Take The Highway ft. Marcus Henderson
3. Keep On Smiling ft. Jimmy Hall and The Black Bettys
4. Grits Ain’t Groceries ft. The Black Bettys
5. Revival ft. The Black Bettys
6. Southern Child ft. The Black Bettys