In 2004, Lynyrd Skynyrd made their first appearance on CMT Crossroads, the cable network’s long-running and reliably entertaining live-performance series that pairs up country, rock and R&B artists to perform each other’s hits. Joined by country duo Montgomery Gentry, the Southern rock stalwarts delivered all the staples: “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Call Me the Breeze” and, that oft-requested power ballad, “Free Bird.” (Watch the performance of “Sweet Home Alabama” below.)
More than a decade later, a lot has changed for Skynyrd, including most notably the death of the man behind the famous “Free Bird” intro, keyboardist Billy Powell. But the band continues to soldier on. Next month, they’ll return for a Crossroads encore, this time with Brantley Gilbert as their onstage partner. With muscular fare like “Bottoms Up,” “Country Must Be Country Wide” and “Kick It in the Sticks,” Gilbert is more rock, even metal, leaning than Skynyrd, but he’s no stranger to collaborations. His last hit was the Justin Moore-Thomas Rhett duet “Small Town Throwdown.”
He also shares an affinity for firepower with Skynyrd, who in 2009 released the album God & Guns — its title track included the lyrics “We might as well give up and run/if we let them take our God and guns.” Recently, Gilbert took to Instagram to show off his enormous new back tattoo: a pair of handguns framed by text from the Second Amendment.
Taping in Franklin, Tennessee, on June 5th, the Skynyrd-Gilbert Crossroads episode is slated to air Saturday, June 27th at 10 p.m./ET. Having already doled out their biggest hits during their Montgomery Gentry mash-up, it remains to be seen if Skynyrd will recreate “Free Bird” or “Sweet Home Alabama” with Gilbert, a Georgia native. Considering the Johnny Van Zant-led group will be performing those same golden oldies on a summer and fall tour — including an October 2nd date at Nashville’s new amphitheater billed as “Lynyrd Skynyrd With Special Guests” — the likely answer is “hell, yeah.”
Gilbert, meanwhile, is hitting the road with Kenny Chesney on his summer tour of stadiums and arenas. Tomorrow night, they’ll play Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.