Tag Archive | John Fred Young

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.

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.