Blackberry Smoke wrapped up their spring Break It Down Tour, the band’s first-ever acoustic trek, on Sunday night at New York’s City Winery. In addition to stripped-down, wood-and-wire takes on staples from the Southern rock outfit’s extensive catalog, the group also used the relaxed format to offer select covers, including a run through the Grateful Dead’s “Althea.”
Seated casually, the band slipped right into the laid-back groove of the country-funk tune, originally found on the Dead’s 1980 album Go to Heaven. Blackberry Smoke lead singer/guitarist Charlie Starr handled Jerry Garcia’s vocal parts with storyteller patience, and in between verses delivered clean acoustic fret runs. Toward the song’s conclusion he called for a solo from touring guitarist Benji Shanks, who added to the front-porch vibe with some slithery bottleneck slide.
On Monday night, Blackberry Smoke also made an appearance on Last Call With Carson Daly, performing a pair of songs: “Medicate My Mind,” off their latest LP Find a Light, and “Waiting for the Thunder,” from 2016’s Like an Arrow.
The Georgia band released The Southern Ground Sessions acoustic EP last fall. The group will next perform at the Lucero Family Block Party in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 13th, before joining Tedeschi Trucks Band and Shovels & Rope on the Wheels of Soul Tour this summer. Earlier this week, Starr and Smoke drummer Brit Turner chatted with Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett about Southern rock clichés and their independent approach to releasing music for the latest episode of Shiflett’s Walking the Floor podcast.