Tag Archive | black stone cherry

Black Stone Cherry at NYC’s Beacon Theater

Black Stone Cherry Press Photo
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A publicist recently asked me what bands I’m currently listening to – and I know she expected me to name some “new” bands, but I had to confess that the bulk of music I’ve been loading on my iPod or adding to my collection in recent months is music from the 1970s. Because, from The Beatles through Glam, Prog Rock, Classic Rock, Hard Rock, the onset of Electronica, Punk Rock and New Wave, the Seventies really had it all. This realization actually brought back an awkward memory of the time an editor (whom I still affectionately refer to as Iron Nuts) accused me of being “desperate to like a modern band.” Okay, guilty as charged. Still, I’m not going to apologize for it.

One modern band that I do like a lot is Black Stone Cherry. I’d own all of their records even if I didn’t get them for free from their label, and I try to see the band play live when they come to New York City. So, I felt very fortunate to get on the guest list to see these remorselessly southern rockers from Kentucky kick out a super tight but exhilarating 45 minute set last week, in support of the Sammy Hagar-fronted all star contingent Chickenfoot. Making sure to please both faithful and new fans, Black Stone Cherry’s three albums (2006’s eponymous debut, 2008’s Folklore and Superstition and 2011’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea) were equally represented within an eclectic 10-song set list.

Black Stone Cherry maintain a gritty enough modern edge to do battle with the fiercest head bangers, but what they remind me of at their creative core is The Allman Brothers with a touch of Hendrix. Surely no one could find fault with that. And any doubt of the veracity of this groups’ southern rock roots is laid to waste with Deep Blue Sea’s exceptional cover of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See,” on which Black Stone Cherry pay deep homage to the original tune while completely making it their own. It’s easy enough to casually toss out a phrase like “The Real Deal” when describing a blues-based rock band, but I’m not fronting when I say that Black Stone Cherry does their old school mentors proud in their ability to rock out and entertain without the need for any added bells and whistles. These guys just love music; and it shows.

Front man Chris Robertson, who effortlessly tackles lead vocals and lead guitar owns a seasoned but fluid voice that delivers both rockers and ballads with equal power and finesse. As a front man, he’s cute but also burly and masculine. I dig his vibe. While bassist Jon Lawhon stays mostly anchored to the stage, his fretwork is top shelf, and it’s a lot of fun to watch rhythm guitarist Ben Wells work the stage, tirelessly leaping atop monitors, engaging the audience and heightening the energy of the room. But for me, the superstar of the band is drummer John Fred Young, who channels the thunder power of John Bonham in his attack on the kit while fully capturing the showmanship of a crowd-pleasing player like Tommy Lee. Young’s arms never stop moving. I could watch him play drums all day. Plus: Hot.

Black Stone Cherry had me and the rest of the crowd on our feet for most of their set (impressive for an opening act), and I love all of their songs, but the most memorable tune of the evening, I think, was “Blame It On The Boom Boom,” which, despite being somewhat dorky, keeps the decadence of the Rock Star Lifestyle alive with its message about the joys of bonking and getting wasted, or something like that. I doubt that any of these guys are Motley Crue-level partiers, but it certainly wasn’t lost on me that they chased “Boom Boom” with few bars of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” – a song I would love to see them cover on a future album.

See the Set List after the Jump!

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Happy 24th Birthday, John Fred Young!


How Cute is this Guy?

Today, December 11th, 2008, is the twenty-fourth birthday of my pal John Fred, who plays drums for the band Black Stone Cherry. John Fred is awesome and has the best hair in rock. Happy Birthday, Kiddo!

Happy Birthday, John Fred Young!

Black Stone Cherry
Black Stone Cherry: John Fred is the Hunky One with All the Hair

Today my friend John Fred turns 23, having been born on December 11th, 1984. John Fred plays drums for the awesome hard rock band, Black Stone Cherry, and he is just hilarious. Earlier this afternoon I called him up at his home in Kentucky to wish him Birthday specialness and he told me, in his nearly-impenetrable Kentucky accent, that he had been outside hunting. Rock guys who hunt. Hilarious.

Gail’s Top Ten CDs of 2006!

Year End Top Ten
Like, Better late than never, right?

Top CDs of 2006, According to Me!

Black Stone Cherry Debut CD
#10. Black Stone Cherry

Initially, I was very resistant to the idea of Kentucky-based, Southern Rock Revivalists, Black Stone Cherry for two sharply pointed reasons. One being that unless a “Southern Rock” band is going to improve on Molly Hatchet’s “Flirting With Disaster” or Greg Allman’s “I’m No Angel,” why even bother? The other being that 99% of modern hard rock sounds like ass. But Black Stone Cherry come on like Soundgarden-meets-The Allman Brothers. My god, what a much needed gasp of fresh air in the vacuum! Not to mention, but you can see I am about to, their drummer, John Fred Young (check out the guy on the far left with that crazy mane of dark curly hair) is what we used to call in my day a stone solid fox. And having a little eye candy in the band never hurts.

Little Answers Earlymay
#9. Little Answers, Earlymay

Remember back when music that passed for adult contemporary rock actually had balls? Neither do I. But if I were programming the Adult Contemporary format at radio today I’d scrap the Kelly Clarkson and Michael Bolton and flood it with songs by amazing bands like The Verve Pipe and Earlymay. Little Answers comes highly recommended if you like U2 but wish Bono would just get over himself already.

Richard Butler Cover Art
#8. Richard Butler

I wasn’t much of a fan of LoveSpitLove, former Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler’s first post-Furs outting. But on Butler’s sublime debut solo excursion, he won me over with moody, soporific songs that sound like they were written by a less acid-damaged version of Julian Cope rather than a guy who was once married to notorious groupie Bebe Buell for about fifteen minutes. Downside: Abysmal cover art that makes him look like he has the plague, or something worse.

Blank Stares CR Cover
#7. All Blown Up, The Blank Stares

The Blank Stares are a band from San Francisco who contacted me through Myspace and asked if they could send me their CD. Now, I don’t want all you independent, undiscovered, unsigned, un-good bands out there to get any ideas, but if your shit sounds like The Beatles, feel free to look me up.

Hot One Cover Art
#6. Hot One

A Power-Quarter based in NYC that also features rock chick bass legend Emm Gryner, Hot One “observes the tradition of rock and roll as a medium for social protest, a la the Clash, Public Enemy, Psychic TV, Woody Guthrie, Minor Threat, the MC5.” I took that statement off their Myspace page. I love Hot One’s sexy glam rock/power pop amalgam (favorite cut, “Sexy Soldier”), but I also dig that they throw in a little George Bush hating on the side.

\Scott Reeder
#5. Tunnel Vision Brilliance, Scott Reeder

Is there a serious metal head alive who doesn’t/didn’t worship Kyuss? Because if there is I want to know who they are so I beat their faces in. Former Kyuss bassist Scott Reeder is a fucking genius for making the best Pink Floyd album since Wish You Were Here. Heavy Mettle indeed.

Advantage Elf Titled
#4. Elf Titled, The Advantage

Six Words: “Nintendo Game Theme Song Cover Band.” Nothing more needs to be said. This CD is brilliant from start to finish. And I’ve never played Nintendo in my life.

Crash Kelly
#3. Electric Satisfaction, Crash Kelly

Canadian Rockers Crash Kelly excell at producing stellar Modern Glam Trash for people like me who go out of their way to live in the past.

YEAH-Def_Leppard
#2. Yeah!, Def Leppard

Seriously, how can you possibly go wrong if you’re already Def Leppard — who are, without a doubt, a genius band — and you decide to make an album of covers that includes Badfinger’s “No Matter What” and Mott The Hoople’s “Golden Age of Rock & Roll”? How can you go wrong, I ask yez?

Sloan Never Hear The End of It
#1. Never Hear The End of It, Sloan

I have to thank n=my buddy Frank Griggs for sending me this Sloan album on the fly when he was doing their publicity last fall, because otherwise I never would have heard the BEST ALBUM OF 2006! No amount of clever compound adjectives can fully describe how awesome this CD is. Those tasteless dicks over at Rolling Stone only gave Never Hear The End Of It three-out-of-five stars, but here’s their review:

“For more than a decade, Sloan have been big in their native Canada without even reaching Guided by Voices-level fame stateside. With thirty, count-’em, thirty songs (several of which bleed together and clock in under two minutes), their eighth studio album is a power-pop record that flows like the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime — but with glam rock and acoustic balladry in the mix.”

So just go out and buy it already.

Honorable Mention

These are some genius discs that didn’t quite make into the Top Ten, mostly because I could only fit ten selections into a list of ten. Logistics, you know.

1. Benevento Russo Duo, Play, Pause, Stop
2. Dirty Royals, Obsessed America EP
3. David Gilmour, On An Island
4. Ambulance, New English EP
5. Gosling, Here Is…
6. Hellacopters, Rock & Roll is Dead
7. American Hearthbreak
8. Barrett Martin, Earthspeaker
9. Wired All Wrong, Break Out The Battle Tapes

10. (Guilty Pleasure) Taylor Hicks
Don’t even start with me on this one. I may be a self-confessed huge fan of American Idol, but nobody was more surprised than me when I fell in love with former spazz Taylor Hick’s fake Elvis swagger and his “Takin’ It To The Streets” mock-soul funk. This album is probably the best piece of commercial “product” that the big corporate machine has crapped out since I even listened to mainstream pop radio. And thank god someone got him to dye his hair.

An Interview with John Fred Young of Black Stone Cherry

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Combining Soundgarden’s post-modern heavy metal attack with the classic, southern rock song craft of The Allman Brothers, Blackstone Cherry have arrived from south central Kentucky to give hard rock a serious kick in the ass. Since the summer 2006 release of its self titled debut, this quartet of high school friends has been on the road nearly non-stop with rock heavyweights such as Buckcherry, Staind and Black Label Society, winning diehard converts at every venue. “You can sit here and talk about it,” says 21-year old drummer John Fred Young, “but when people see us live they go, ‘Oh my god, this band’s the real thing.’” Raised on the music of ‘70s legends like Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, John Fred is actually part of country rock legacy: his father Richard and Uncle Fred are guitarist and drummer, respectively, for the Grammy award-wining band The Kentucky Headhunters. “My uncle Fred got me a kit of drums when I was five years old,” he explains. “Besides John Bonham, he is definitely my biggest influence.” With more tours booked and the album still selling well, 2007 looks like another great year for this talented band of southern rockers, as John Fred confesses, “I think Blackstone Cherry is really just at the very beginning of where we’re going to go.”

Metal Edge: When recording the album, did you come up against any challenges in the studio?

John Fred Young: There were some challenging songs, because we don’t play with a click track, so everything – including the drums – is cut live. We just go back, do the vocals and add maybe a couple of guitar overdubs. It’s kind of like back in the day when Ray Charles was making albums: you just do it in one take. When you make albums in that manner I feel like they come off so much more from the heart.

Metal Edge: What songs are your favorites to play live?

John Fred Young: I think one of the funnest songs to play live is probably “Drive.” It’s such a high-octane groove that’s just in-your-face, and on the last part of the drums it goes a little berserk. One of the biggest compliments I’ve gotten about the record is when kids ask me ‘What kind of double kick pedal do you use?’ And I’ll say, ‘It’s an invisible one, because I use a single pedal’ (laughs). That’s a cool compliment. I guess [my footwork] comes from listening to my uncle Fred and Bonham play. I like doing a lot of fast footwork, but I’m definitely a better fisherman (laughs).

Metal Edge: With your fast footwork, did you previously play a double bass kit?

John Fred Young: I like messing around with double bass, but I’m really not good at it. I can do a really good standard metal roll; the digga digga digga, but that’s it. I think if I played double bass I would rather play it like Tommy Aldridge, Alex Van Halen or my uncle Fred. Those guys incorporated such different, unusual footwork besides just your standard, metal double kick. Then you’ve got guys like Vinnie Paul from Pantera; that guy’s insane. There are so many good double bass drummers coming up on the scene. I listen to them and I’m like, Jeezus, how the hell do you get that fast with your feet? I wish that I could play double bass like that, but if I switch then that’s not me. So I’m doing my own, unique little thing here on the farm.

Metal Edge: Your playing is not only fast but also very precise. Do you have any playing tips for drummers on how improve the speed and precision of their playing?

John Fred Young: My advice on how to build up speed and power is just to start out doing stuff slow. You can play a beat at a really high tempo, but you have to make it clean and you have to be able to really have a formula for how you start out your rolls and different rudiments. Everything for me is about practice. I may not practice for five hours straight, but I’m always drumming on something or I have pair of sticks in my hands. I think that Buddy Rich said something like, ‘As long as you can practice fifteen minutes a day you’re fine.’ That’s so cool, because Buddy Rich is the greatest drummer of all time. He’s undeniably the best and if I had a fingernail of the talent that he did, I would be set (laughs). He was very awesome.

Metal Edge: Some of your parts are very busy: do you ever worry about stepping on the vocal?

John Fred: I pretty much overplay all the time (laughs). I definitely I try to play for the song and make the groove, but sometimes I get caught up with so much raw energy that I lose where I’m at. Then I’m like, ‘Oh god.’ But I do feel like I over play a lot, and I don’t know if that’s good or bad. The thing is, when you’re doing something really hard, you’ve got to make it look easy, and you’ve got to make the easy stuff look hard. That’s the ticket.

John Fred’s Gear:
Drums: Ludwig Green Sparkle Kit
Sizes: 26” Kick, 12”x14” Rack Tom, 16”x16” and 18”x18” Floor Toms, 6”x14” Snare
Cymbals: Meinl
Heads: Evans
Sticks: Vater

Official Website: http://www.blackstonecherry.com/
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blackstonecherry/

John Fred Young
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This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.