Loyal fans recognize Drivin’ n’ Cryin’s sound right away, from the unique, high-pitched voice of lead singer Kevn Kinney to the strong, true-to-rock guitar riffs. While Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ is on tour promoting their newest album, The Great American Bubble Factory, this is far from their first rodeo.
“I think it’s our 10th album,” Kinney said laughing. “It’s on up there.”
The band is set to play at Brother’s Bar in Jacksonville on Saturday. According to Brother’s owner, Dan Noland, this is Drvin’ n’ Cryin’s first time playing at Brother’s more than eight years. He’s thrilled to have them back.
“The band is just great. Even after all this time, they still got it,” Noland said. “They still got this rock element, great songwriting and they’re just a great, great southern-rock band.”
Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ dates back to the mid-80s, when they almost instantly became a favorite of college listeners. The band now consists of Kinney on guitar and vocals, Tim Nielsen on bass and vocals, Dave Johnson on drums and Mac Carter on guitar.
Kinney and Nielsen are the band’s songwriters, and are responsible for the catchy lyrics of old-time favorites “Straight to Hell,” “Fly Me Courageous,” “Honeysuckle Blue” and many others. Kinney said that there’s no one way to write lyrics, but that he never just sits down and decides to write a song. Songs come to him while he’s driving down the road or pickin’ at his guitar in front of the TV. “Anyone can write a song,” Kinney said. “A good song should only take about a minute to write. You should just be able to write it down, and then put it away and not touch it.”
One thing’s for sure about Drivin’ n’ Cryin’s sound — it’s hard to categorize. Drawing inspiration from musicians such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, John Denver, Bob Dylan, The Ramones and The Who, Drvin’ n’ Cryin’ aren’t afraid to jump genres.
“You know, Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ is its own kind of genre,” Kinney said. “People try to fit us into rock, alternative rock or Americana, but we are who we are.
We’ve created our own world.”
The Great American Bubble Factory features fresh songs with that familiar Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ sound. “I See Georgia” is about being homesick, Kinney said, while “Detroit City” kicks off the album with a solid and traditional rock ‘n’ roll sound. Kinney’s unique voice is recognizable no matter what song he
sings thanks to a certain twang that came about somewhat unintentionally. When Kinney first began singing with a band at age eighteen, he had to sing extra loud and high in order to hear himself above the music. “I really had to scream in this whiney voice to get above the band,” Kinney said. “It just kind of stuck.”
Three years ago, Kinney underwent the removal of a cyst on his vocal cord. After some rest, Kinney’s voice was good to go, and is still going strong today.
Kinney said he’s looking forward to playing at Brother’s again, and according to Noland, ticket sales are strong enough to possibly deliver a sold-out show. But don’t expect to see a set list for the band — Kinney said they never play the same show twice, and find set lists to be bad luck for the band.
“A set list is like a blueprint for us. It’s too structured,” Kinney said. “We just kinda feel it and do whatever we want to do. In Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ you have to know 120 songs, because I might play any of those at any time, and you have to know how to play it in ten seconds.”
Pelham’s in Jacksonville will be selling tickets prior to the day of the show for $15, or tickets may be purchased at Brother’s the day of the show for
$18. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the show will kick off around 10 p.m. with artist Sam Hunt. Expect Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ to dominate the stage around 10:45 or 11 p.m.
“I just hope everyone comes out to support the music and rock out,” Noland said. “We just couldn’t be happier to have them coming back and playing at Brother’s.”
by Julie Skinner Special to The Star