Kenneth Brian Band rides shotgun with Blackberry Smoke

Tahoe Onstage
The Kenneth Brian Band opens for Blackberry Smoke at the Cargo Concert Hall on Sunday.
Photo by Tamarind Free Jones

Where there’s Blackberry Smoke, there’s a fiery Southern rock band.

The Kenneth Brian Band opens on Sunday for Blackberry Smoke at the Cargo Concert Hall. The openers have worked with and are respected by some of the greatest players and producers in the industry. It toured the last two years with Lucinda Williams, played several shows with ZZ Top and worked extensively with Allman brothers producer Johnny Sandlin.

In May, the Kenneth Brian Band released its fourth studio album, “With Lions.” The tight sound driven by Brian’s slide guitar melds rock, country and even a little punk. Recording band members include drummer Steve Ferrone and keyboardist Scott Thurston of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, harmony singer, rhythm guitarist and piano player Travis Stephens, and Disreputable Few’s Paul ILL, an in-demand session player, is the bassist.

Released on Robo Records, the album was recorded in Hollywood at Dave’s Room Studio. David Bianco (Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Tom Petty) produced, mixed and engineered the album. It was mastered at Capitol Studios by Kevin Bartley.

According to press materials, after moving to Nashville in 2001, founding members Brian Stephens met while playing the local scene and struck up a fast friendship, which led to the start of the band in 2009.

“We both understand the underlying spiritual groove that we are forever trying to stay dialed into for ourselves and our fans,” Stephens said. “And that comes before egos or opinions.”

Brian and Sandlin co-produced bandmate Travis Stephen’s album “Between Someday and Never.”

Sandlin is esteemed for his work at Muscle Shoals studio and Capricorn Records, for which he produced the Allman Brothers most commercially successful album, 1973’s “Brothers and Sisters.” He helped the brothers get their start with the band The Hour Glass, which was himself, Gregg and Duane Allman, Paul Hornsby and Mabron McKinney.

Sandlin has used Brian for session work and he produced his 2011 album “Welcome to Alabama.” As “With Lions,” the album was recorded live with the exception of the vocals. Brian also has worked with Muscle Shoals’ David Hood, Scott Boyer and Randall Bramblett.

With Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers on tour, Ferrone picked Chris Cano to be the drummer for Sunday’s show.

Related story: Paul Hornsby finally takes the spotlight.

  • Blackberry Smoke
    Opener: Kenneth Brian Band
    When: 8 p.m. Sunday, July 30
    Where: Cargo Concert Hall, Reno
    Tickets: $23 in advance or $27 at the door

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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