Brew York Music Festival expanding to two stages

Drivin N Cryin is scheduled to perform at 7:35 p.m. Saturday at the Brew York Music Festival at Maggie’s on the River. From left to right we have Tim Nielsen (bassist, founding member), Laur Joamets (guitar), Dave Johnson (drums), Kevn Kinney (guitar, vocals, founding member).

WATERTOWN — To accommodate a growing lineup of music acts, two stages will be set up for this year’s Brew York Music Festival on Saturday.

“We doubled the amount of bands this year and will introduce the second stage featuring many local acts,” said Patrick G. Robbins, co-owner of Brew York Entertainment.

The festival is at Maggie’s on the River at a closed-off Newell Street.

The festival’s main stage is the Black River Stage. The new Hole Brothers Stage will feature the local acts.

The main acts for the Black River Stage are, at 7:35 p.m., Drivin N Cryin and at 8:45 p.m., Eve 6.

Other main stage highlights include the return of Harrison B, who will perform at the festival for the third time.

Working the fan baseDrivin N Cryin, a name selected to represent the two directions of their music, is based in Atlanta and is celebrating 33 years together. It has a gold record, 10 full-length albums and a handful of EPs to their credit. In 2015, the band was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. The band consists of founders Tim Nielsen and Kevin Kinney along with Dave V. Johnson and Laur Joamets.

Mr. Nielsen was asked about the factors that account for the band’s longevity.

“For the last 10 years or so, we’ve just been really focused on enjoying making music, not really worrying about trying to get discovered or make it or whatever,” Mr. Nielsen said in a phone interview on June 26 as the band was traveling through Nashville on the way to Milwaukee and that city’s Summerfest 2018. “We’re working our fan base.”

Some reviewers of their music say that among its sounds, Drivin N Cryin can resemble country and heavy metal at times. Those types of descriptions are not entirely accurate, Mr. Nielsen said.

“We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band,” he said. “We appreciate country banjos, fiddles, mandolins and stuff like that. “Is Cheap Trick heavy metal? I think we’re more like a band like Cheap Trick, a pop band with loud guitars that appreciates folk and Americana and singer/songwriter kind of stuff.”

The newest member of the band is Estonian-born guitar player Mr. Joamets, who joined last year.

“He’s an amazing slide player and an amazing rock guitar player,” Mr. Nielsen said. “He’s a joy to have in the band; a musical genius. He just blows us away with the stuff he comes up with, his interpretations of our old songs and he’s involved in writing on the new record, which is refreshing.”

Mr. Nielsen said the band is about 90 percent done with its new album. They likely won’t be done mixing it until the end of summer with an expected release date early next year.

“It’s just really cool song craftmanship,” Mr. Nielsen said. “We put a lot of time and thought into it. It’s hard to explain. It doesn’t sound like anything we’ve ever done but it sounds like everything we’ve done.”

They perform some songs from the project on their current tour. But Mr. Nielsen stressed Drivin N Cryin never uses a set list.

“We play off the vibe of the crowd and whatever mood we’re in,” he said. “We cover all the bases — old and new and in between.”


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Drivin N Cryin to Continue Thanksgiving Tradition at Charleston Music Hall


Last year, Southern Rock legends Drivin N Cryin played a show at the Charleston Music Hall on the day after Thanksgiving. I spoke with bassist Tim Nielsen in advance of the show, and he mentioned that they were hoping to make the post-Thanksgiving show an annual tradition. He also mentioned that Drivin N Cryin had booked some studio time in January and were planning to record a new full-length album.

Now, Drivin N Cryin has announced this year's post-Thanksgiving show for Friday, November 23rd. Joining them at the Music Hall that night will be Charleston's beloved The High Divers, who are still pretty fresh off the release of their new full-length album Chicora. Drivin N Cryin also has new music out; a single called "Keepin It Close to My Heart", which is a remaster of the 1997 tune of the same name. They are set to release a remastered version of the entire album Too Late to Turn Back Now on July 27th. You can find more info and preorder the album here.

Tickets to Drivin N Cryin and The High Divers at the Charleston Music Hall are $20 and on sale now. Get yours here. Proceeds will benefit Guitars For Vets, and Drivin N Cryin has stated that they will partner with them going forward.

By: Chris Huber with Extra Chill
July 11th, 2018

Drivin N Cryin enjoyin’ a renaissance; Pearl Street Brewery show on tap for June 29

Drivin N crying

Members of Drivin N Cryin, who perform June 29 at the Pearl Street Brewery, include, from left, bassist Tim Nielsen, singer/guitarist Kevn Kinney, lead guitarist Laur Joamets and drummer Dave V. Johnson.

One of the great things about Drivin N Cryin since it started 33 years ago has been the band’s versatility — they can pull off country, hair metal, folk rock, Southern rock, punk, surf rock and more. At the same time, being a musical chameleon might have been one factor in keeping from Drivin N Cryin from bigger things.

The band has released 10 full-length albums, including five on major labels, over the past three decades, but the record companies never really figured out how to package and market the band — which was fine with founding members Kevn Kinney and Tim Nielsen, judging by the documentary about the band, “Scarred but Smarter.”

It’s poetically telling that Drivin N Cryin is coming to La Crosse for a June 29 show at the Pearl Street Brewery sponsored by 95.7 The Rock at the same time country star Darius Rucker (with help from Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Charles Kelley) is making a splash with his cover of the band’s “Straight to Hell.”

Rucker and his friends (dubbed The Troublemakers) closed out the CMT Music Awards telecast on June 6 with a live version of “Straight to Hell.” In a recent phone interview, Nielsen laughs recalling that he found out about the song being on the show the day it was to air and scrambled to upgrade his cable TV package so he could watch. For Nielsen, it was worth the effort.

“It’s crazy. It was kind of surreal,” Nielsen said. “I got chills. I got a little emotional.”

Nielsen took a break from a recording session for a new Drivin N Cryin album in Charleston, S.C., where he lives now. He’s been the band’s bass player from day one and for the past two years or so has managed Drivin N Cryin as well.

“I like the results that we’re getting and I like the direction our career has been going,” Nielsen said. “The greatest achievement of all is getting this new record rolling.”

Nielsen lived in the Twin Cities until he was in second grade and spent many summers at a family cabin in northern Wisconsin near Rice Lake. He moved to Atlanta when he was in eighth grade, and in 1985 he was playing bass in a popular hard rock band there called the Nightporters when he went to a club to see Milwaukee’s Die Kreuzen.


Drivin N Cryin

Kevn Kinney, the frontman for Drivin N Cryin, grew up in Milwaukee.

Joining the band to do some of his own songs that night was Milwaukee native Kevn Kinney, who had recently moved to Atlanta. Kinney made a big and immediate impression on Nielsen.

“He had a Ramones haircut and a red Mosrite,” said Nielsen, referring to a guitar model also favored by Johnny Ramone. “I’m like, ‘Who is this guy?’”

In short order, Nielsen had joined forces with Kinney to form Drivin N Cryin, with Kinney on lead vocals and guitar. “We’ve had a great time,” said Nielsen said, reflecting on their decades together. “We’re having a great time today making music.”

Nielsen said Kinney is excited to be coming back to Wisconsin. The night before the La Crosse show, the band plays at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, and Kinney is coming up early to see his family as well as meet with a Milwaukee-based organization called Guitars for Vets. The band plans to do some charity work for the group, which provides guitars for military veterans in need of music therapy.

“It’s a cool thing, man,” Nielsen said. “When Kevn heard about it, he said, ‘This is right up our alley.’”

Over the years the band’s membership has evolved, and Nielsen is pumped about the current lineup, with drummer Dave V. Johnson and the band’s newest member guitarist, Laur Joamets, a native of Estonia who previously played with Sturgill Simpson’s band.

“He’s a keeper,” Nielsen said of Joamets. “This record’s really going to highlight his playing with some great songs.”

Nielsen expects the new record to come out late winter or early spring, but the band has another “new” release coming out at the end of July. Back in 1997, the band released a self-titled album on CD and cassette, and the band is reissuing that album on vinyl with a new title, “Too Late to Turn Back Now.” The album also will be made available online digitally for the first time.

Last year, Island Records re-released the band’s 1989 album, “Mystery Road,” which was included on Paste magazine’s top 50 Southern rock albums. “Mystery Road” includes two Southern rock staples, “Straight to Hell” and “Honeysuckle Blue,” both of which Nielsen said were part of almost every cover band’s set list throughout the south.

Considering the album’s influence and staying power, it’s worth noting that it was recorded under duress. Island Records was wavering in its commitment to the band after “Whisper Tames the Lion,” but when R.E.M. came to the label and offered to put Drivin N Cryin on the spring 1989 tour for R.E.M.’s “Green” album, but only if Drivin N Cryin had a new album, too.

That kicked Island Records into gear, scrambling to get a record done. Even without the band getting its first choice of producer — Brendan O’Brien, not yet a sought-after record producer — and with the expedited recording schedule, Kinney, Nielsen and the band kicked out a masterpiece.

Drivin N Cryin had its biggest commercial success with the next album, 1991’s “Fly Me Courageous,” which garnered a lot of radio and video play for the hard-rockin’ title song (reportedly a favorite of U.S. pilots on bombing runs over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm).

After “Fly Me Courageous,” the band had a gold record, but they also were somewhat pigeonholed as a hair metal band, which was bad timing because grunge was about to become the next big thing. For Nielsen, that taste of music industry success was nice, of course, but it’s not just about selling records for Nielsen or Kinney.

“I measure success by being able to get together with these guys in a van and go down the road to a hall with 300 people who are having a ball,” Nielsen said.


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Drivin' N Cryin' pull into The Veranda in Thornton Park

Drivin’ N Cryin’ are no strangers to the City Beautiful. Being based in Atlanta, Central Florida is just a hop, skip and crying drive away, so they’ve become a staple for local music fans.

The quartet will celebrate 30 years of rocking on Friday, May 11, at the Veranda in Thornton Park (6 p.m., 111 N. Summerlin Ave., Orlando, $20, 407-797-4145, Other acts will include Pylon Reenactment Society, Giddy Up Go and Catfish Dinner.

Drivin’ N Cryin’ are best known for the 1991 hard rock album “Fly Me Courageous.”

Through email, bassist Tim Nielsen talked Southern rock, the perfect venue and success. Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Question: How does Drivin’ N Cryin’ fit into the traditions of Southern rock and in what ways have you broken the mold?

Answer: If you define Southern rock as rock ‘n’ roll that comes from the south, then we definitely fit into the traditions of Southern rock. I don’t think we break the mold any more than bands like R.E.M., The Black Crowes and Collective Soul do. We’re still making new music that’s current and very southern in its roots.

Q: What kind of venues best showcase your music?

A: We feel the most at home playing in bars, to intimate crowds, where we can feed off the energy of the crowd.

Q: Do you prefer playing live or recording?

A: I, myself, love recording and making new records. It’s definitely a privilege.

Q: How has Drivin’ N Cryin’ evolved over their 30 years in the business?

A: The evolution of Drivin’ N Cryin’ has come full circle. We went from a band that had a practice room and played in Atlanta to a band that stayed on the road, toured constantly and didn’t have time for a practice room. Now we play regular shows, mostly on weekends, and we have the opportunity to sit down in a practice room/recording studio and write this new album together, just like we did in the old days. My personal relationship with my instrument has changed because I have made a career playing the bass in Drivin N Cryin. I went from being a punk rocker to being somewhat of a musician.

Q: How do you define success and have you achieved it?

A: There have not been any shortcuts to success for this band. We’ve had successes; we’ve had major label deals; we’ve toured with biggest bands in the world. Right now, we’re more successful than we have been because we’re having fun and still making good music. So every little bit helps and the hard work does pay off.


Supersuckers/Drivin N Cryin - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)


Supersuckers / Drivin N Cryin

Live in Grand Rapids (2018)

It was an interesting combination of bands. Headlining was the self proclaimed Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World. Sandwiched in the middle of the bill was a band that had a huge radio hit in the early 90’s. Opening was a local hardcore favorite. I had seen Supersuckers a handful of times, and always enjoyed them. I had never seen Drivin N Cryin, so there was a certain level of intrigue there. I doubt there was a band I saw more times last year than Westside Rebellion, but this was only going to be the second time in 2018. The show went down at The Stache in downtown Grand Rapids on Thursday, March 29th.

Local hardcore degenerates Westside Rebellion went on promptly at 8:00 and played a blistering 25 minute set. They tore through all five songs from their debut EP, and even threw in a couple of brand new songs. The new tunes had a definite thrash/hardcore vibe, and I was glad to hear some fresh material from these guys. They were also pelted in beer cans. I couldn’t help but wonder how the ‘professional’ bands felt about having their equipment soaked in PBR. I don’t know if it bothered them, but they never said a word. WSR was fun as usual, even if they were a bit aggressive for this lineup.

The first thing I noticed about Drivin N Cryin is that they looked old, especially guitarist/vocalist Kevin Kinney. A closer inspection revealed that he and bassist/backing vocalist Tim Nielsen were older, and the other guitar player and drummer were much younger. Fortunately, Kinney’s distinctive voice is still mostly intact. Although they’re known for a handful of hard rock songs, they’re really a Southern rock band at heart. They broke out a couple of back to back hits really early in the set, including “The Innocent” and an extended jam on their biggest hit, “Fly Me Courageous”. Say what you will about that song, but it has an amazing riff. It’s the type of riff you can build a whole career around. (Plus, the cowbell really popped live.)

Later highlights included “Build a Fire”, “Detroit City” (which name drops a bunch of Michigan bands) and “Straight to Hell”. The thing is, I’m used to watching punk bands play half hour sets. Headliners get maybe an hour. I understand that Drivin N Cryin was co-headlining, but they just kept going and going. I enjoyed them, but I cringed a little bit every time they started a new song after 45 minutes or so. (Talk about first world problems. I got too much entertainment for my money!) I know plenty of people would agree with me, but the band obviously had a lot of fans in the house. By the time their 80 minute set was over, all hope of a decent night’s sleep was lost.

The Stache is the smaller front room of a bigger venue called The Intersection. I’m always fascinated by who’s playing in the 1500 capacity main room while I’m in the 500 cap room. In this case it was Fozzy, the metal band fronted by professional wrestler Chris Jericho. It’s amazing to me that five times as many people were watching Fozzy as Supersuckers. It’s amazing because there are few people on the planet who are as good at writing three minute rock and roll songs as Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti.

Supersuckers took the stage to four new songs that are set to appear on their upcoming record. While new, they had that comfortable, catchy, familiar feel. They were rock and roll songs that also happened to be about rock and roll. After that they went back in their impressive catalog with songs like “Get the Hell”, “Rock-n-Roll Records (Ain’t Selling This Year)” and “Creepy Jackalope Eye”. Since guitarist Dan ‘Thunder’ Bolton left, Supersuckers have been playing as a trio. (Last time I saw them they were still a quartet.) Bassist/vocalist Spaghetti, guitarist ‘Metal’ Marty Chandler and drummer Christopher ‘Chango’ Von Streicher make the power trio thing look easy. They also displayed their typical combination of bravado and self-deprecating humor.

There were a couple of other cool things about the show too. There were quite a few folks there older than me, which is good to see and is getting to be increasingly rare. I also knew lots of people in the crowd and was able to catch up with friends old and new. It was getting late and I kind of wanted to split, but I knew better than to skip Supersuckers’ encore. I stayed for the entire 80 minutes and was rewarded with a few classics. First was ZZ Top’s “Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers”, then “Pretty Fucked Up”, next was Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song”, and finally “Born With a Tail”. It was a damn fine ending to a damn fine (and late) night of rock and roll.

*Footnote: My biggest regret was that I had to work early the next morning, and couldn’t stay out even later. After the show, Supersuckers went to a friend of mine’s house for Bar-B-Q. I suspect I would have really enjoyed eating Bar-B-Q with The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.

REVIEWERTomTraumaMarch 30th 2018

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In Tennessee, music is being made deep below Earth’s surface

MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — By the time Nashville songwriter Travis Meadows took the stage on a recent Sunday afternoon, more than 500 music fans had found their way 333 feet (100 meters) below the ground, some taller guests ducking their heads just a bit. They took their seats in lounge chairs and on a handful of rock outcroppings beneath an antique chandelier that once adorned a New York City theater. The enormous light is now bolted into the ceiling of the Volcano Room inside Tennessee’s Cumberland Caverns.

“The patrons and performers are all sort of awed by this magical and majestic setting,” said Todd Mayo, who had the idea of hosting concerts 10 years ago, during a family vacation that included a tour of the cave.

The phenomenon draws fans since it pairs live music with the lure of exploring the caves and their unique environments, promoters say.

“Caves are spiritual, special places, so when you combine that natural wonder of a cave with music, it’s just special,” Mayo said.

Tennessee will soon have not just one, but two caves vying for fans who want to see music performed in a subterranean environment.

Mayo is the creator and executive producer of the PBS show “Bluegrass Underground,” which has filmed concerts in the Volcano Room since 2009.

Music fans are going underground to watch bands perform deep inside a cave in the mountains of Tennessee. The Volcano Room at Cumberland Caverns can hold about 700 people, and another cave is being developed as a concert venue. (March 21)

He recently bought his own cave at the base of Monteagle Mountain near Pelham, Tennessee, and is planning that cave’s first-ever show Saturday with performances by Nashville artist Billy Strings and a band from Havana, Cuba known as the Sweet Lizzy Project. The PBS show is also moving to that cave known as The Caverns, where Mayo hopes to put on about 40 to 50 shows this year. It can seat 750 people or expand to 1,000 for standing-room-only shows.

Meanwhile, the original home of the PBS show in Cumberland Caverns is continuing to host concerts on its own and aims to book about 20 shows this year beneath the giant crystal chandelier in the Volcano Room, spokeswoman Amanda Blank said. Atlanta singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins recently performed in the Volcano Room, which has a capacity of around 700.

“These shows, because they are so unique and on a lot of music lovers’ bucket lists, I think there are enough people to fill both places,” Blank said.

Mayo said the shows have drawn fans from around the world, from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

“It’s a destination now — people want to come do this,” he said.

While producing the PBS shows in the Volcano Room, Mayo recalls meeting a woman from Dubai who had seen the show, and sold her car to buy plane tickets to fly to Tennessee to see a show.

The artists who have performed there say they didn’t know exactly what to expect.

“It was kind of surreal, man, in its own kind of way,” said Jimbo Hart, a bass guitarist who performed in the Volcano Room with Alabama artist Jason Isbell’s band, The 400 Unit.

“It sparked the science nerd in me,” said Hart, who had studied geology at the University of North Alabama and found himself noticing the waterfalls, the stalactites and various formations of the cave.

Tim Nielsen, a bass player in the Georgia band Drivin’ N Cryin’, recalls their gear being loaded into the cave on small all-terrain vehicles. Fans are guided about 900 yards (820 meters) past underground pools and waterfalls to reach the Volcano Room for shows.

“We had no idea what we were getting into, but we were just like ‘Ok, we’re going to play in a cave way down under the Earth,’” Nielsen said. “It was a cool vibe, a cool experience.”

Mayo said there are several reason he went cave-shopping, and ended up buying one historically known as “Big Mouth” for the new venue he’s named “The Caverns.” It’s closer to Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and also allows easier access for fans to get inside, he said. And it gives him the ability to install permanent lighting and audio equipment.

“The cave is very carefully lit because the cave is the co-star for whoever is on stage,” Mayo said. “The lighting is very subtle and it’s really beautiful and it’s really respectful of this natural environment.”



Mar. 21, 2018


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The 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time

The 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time

Growing up in Atlanta in the 1970s and ’80s, “Southern rock” meant a very specific thing: long-haired bands like Molly Hatchet, the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynrd playing extended guitar solos with enough bluster to pick a fight at any smoky roadhouse. It was part country redneck, part psychedelic hippie, and it dominated the FM radio stations of my childhood (looking at you 96 Rock). By the ’80s, Southern rock meant ZZ Top, Georgia Satellites and The Black Crowes, reviving the guitar licks of their forebears for a new generation. But it was also starting to mean something else. In college towns like Athens, Ga., and Winston-Salem, N.C., a distinct Southern jangle was emerging, mixing the post-punk of New York, the pop of Big Star, and the roots music that bands like R.E.M., Let’s Active and The dB’s were weaned on. The branches of Southern rock began to creep outward. Today, “Southern rock” means everything from the earthy synths of My Morning Jacket to the future soul of The Alabama Shakes.

But the origins origins of rock in the South also go back much further than Duane Allman playing guitar for the R&B hitmakers at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals in the 1960s. Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Fats Domino were among the first musicians to put Southern cities on the rock ‘n’ roll map. They were quickly followed by Southern icons at Memphis’s Sun Studio like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, whose early singles were as much rockabilly as country.

So when we compiled the 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time, we made sure the results were a little broader than the usual suspects. As long as the music was undoubtedly Southern (from Texas to the Carolinas, Kentucky to north Florida) and undoubtedly rock, it was on the table. That meant bands like The B-52’s and Of Montreal, who could have come from Mars, aren’t included. And bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival and Little Feat, who sound Southern but have no claim to these lands, are also absent. But the inclusion of early rock albums and modern torchbearers like Drive-By Truckers also means we didn’t have room for some roots rock standards like Atlanta Rhythm Section, Boz Scaggs and Dixie Dregs, which you’ll find on most every other list.

What follows are the Best Southern rock albums as voted by Paste’s music editors and writers, after long debates on what should qualify. As always for these lists, we limit each act to two albums. We think this approach results in a more interesting list, celebrating all of the South’s contributions to rock ’n’ roll. And you can tell us what we missed on our Facebook page.

Here are the 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time:


39. Drivin’ n’ Cryin’: Mystery Road (1989)

Though it might have lacked the punk freedom of their first two albums, Scarred But Smarter and Whisper Tames the LionMystery Road is where the Atlanta rock band fully embraced their Southern roots for a more unforgettable sound. Starting with the fiddles on “Ain’t It Strange” and Southern crunching guitars of “Toy Never Played With” to the Red Clay power-ballad “Honeysuckle Blue” and culminating in the bad-boy anthem “Straight to Hell,” this was the pinnacle of Southern rock in the late 1980s. Even R.E.M.’s Peter Buck showed up to play some dulcimer. Kevn Kinney was a folk troubadour at heart, but bassist Tim Nielsen, guitarist Buren Fowler and drummer Jeff Sullivan all added more than a touch of Allman Brothers and Skynyrd influence to the point that follow-up Fly Me Courageoushad the band touring in leather and playing arena rock. But on this album, the balance between punk beginnings, country leanings and ’70s Southern FM radio adoration was just about perfect. —Josh Jackson


By Josh Jackson & Paste Music Staff  |  February 26, 2018  |  10:19am


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Where Is Sturgill Simpson’s Former Guitarist Laur Joamets Now?

laur-joamets As Sturgill Simpson was making his meteoric rise over the last few years, so was his Estonian-born guitar player Laur Joamets, also known as Little Joe. Though not an original member of Sturgill Simpson’s solo outfit after Sturgill’s first band Sunday Valley disbanded (that was Adam Davis, seen in early videos), Laur became the well-known lead player in Sturgill’s band shortly thereafter, appearing on Sturgill’s breakout album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Sturgill was introduced to Laur via producer Dave Cobb, who caught wind of Laur’s talents via mutual musical acquaintances.

Laur soon became a star in his own right, being nominated in 2015 for Americana’s Instrumentalist of the Year. Joamets became a fixture of Sturgill Simpson’s live shows, including Sturgill’s big appearance on Saturday Night Live in January 2017, and then on the 2017 Grammy Awards in February in front of a huge international television audience. But that was the last appearance of Laur with Sturgill. When Simpson emerged the first weekend of March at the Okeechobee Music Festival in Florida, it was with a stripped-down band, with no horns and no Laur, and Sturgill playing lead guitar himself.

After the rumor mill got brewing hot and heavy after the Okeechobee appearance, Sturgill Simpson addressed Laur’s exit in a statement.

We’ve been trying to keep it under wraps to avoid the inevitable rumor mill but last night’s gig in Okeechobee FL officially marks the beginning of a new chapter.

We’re all very sad to say that after nearly four years Laur Joamets has decided it’s time to move on to pursue greener pastures and a gig with little more wiggle room for him to stretch out. It’s been a pleasure and an honor watching him grow into one of the baddest guitar players on the planet and everyone in the band wishes him the best in his future endeavors. To be completely honest, I realized last night how much I’ve missed playing electric guitar without even knowing it so I guess as they say, “it was time”.

I’m also proud to say that Little Joe recently became the proud owner of a US green card and is working towards officially becoming a “Muhrican”. Everyone in the band wishes him the absolute best in both his life and career and we cant wait to see what he does with his incredible talents.

Shortly thereafter in mid March, Laur Joamets re-emerged playing guitar with east Nashville’s Patrick Sweany on select dates at SXSW in Austin and a few other locations. But that gig was sort lived for Laur, eventually landing with the Atlanta, GA-based long-standing Southern rock outfit Drivin’ & Cryin’.

“Laur Joamets will be joining us as our official guitarist!” the band announced officially on July 26th, 2017. “Thanks to Warner Hodges and everyone else that’s played with us over the years.”

Drivin’ & Cryin’ officially formed in 1985 behind frontman Kevn Kinney. The band has since released a dozen or so albums, and had a minor hit with the post hair metal song “Fly Me Courageous” in 1992. Other former members of the group who may be recognized by independent country/Americana fans include Sadler Vaden, who currently plays guitar for Jason Isbell, and Aaron Lee Tasjan.

Drivin’ & Cryin’ tours regularly, and will be playing shows throughout the South and Midwest December through February (check dates) where you can see Laur Joamets plying his guitar skills. Joamets also makes regular appearances in Nashville, including playing “Meter Man” Nashville Guitar Community Show at The Family Wash in October (see below).


Drivin' N Cryin' stays true to itself despite fame

Drivin' N Cryin'

When Drivin’ N Cryin’ released its first album, the world was about as different as it is still the same. It was 1986.

A gallon of gas cost about 89 cents in the U.S. You could build a new house just about anywhere for around 89 grand. Suede was a trending fashion fabric. Nintendo became a household name. There were conflicts and scandals, too — a mass Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation spread from the Jabalia refugee camp to Gaza, the U.S. bombed a Gaddafi-led Libya after a series of terrorist attacks in Europe, the Iran-Contra Affair broke and the Troubles raged in Northern Ireland. There were disasters — an earthquake in El Salvador, deadly volcanic gases in Cameroon, Mad Cow disease, the Chernobyl and Challenger explosions.

There were milestones in pop culture, as well. Both “The Phantom of the Opera” and the “Oprah Winfrey Show” made their debuts, Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion of all time and the likes of Van Halen, Madonna, The Bangles, The Police, Prince and Robert Palmer ruled the airwaves.

Then there was Drivin’ N ‘ Cryin’, a young, Atlanta-based outfit playing a kind of garage rock that combined elements of country, blues, Appalachian folk and hard rock and paid little to no attention to whatever was hip or commercial in 1986.

A 23-year-old transplant from Milwaukee, Kevin “Kevn” Kinney found work in a sewage treatment plant when he first moved to Atlanta in the mid-1980s. Maybe it wasn’t glamorous work, but Kinney didn’t mind. The day job supported his nocturnal habit of playing his folk songs at whatever local club would have him. By 1985, area bassist Tim Nielsen and drummer Paul Lenz joined Kinney, and the trio’s debut, “Scarred but Smarter,” followed a year later. That album defined for him and Nielsen (the only other founding member of the band today) what would become the Drivin’ N Cryin’ sound, a sonic dilemma between toughness and vulnerability, speed and reflection. It was a discovery that Kinney says he stumbled upon at first, only recognizing how he got there years later.

“Ever since I started singing ‘Scarred but Smarter,’ everything changed. I hit on something that was right in front of me. Tell your story,” Kinney advises. “Be yourself — the good parts and the hard parts — and embrace the mystery. As long as you continue to be yourself, the easier it is to be true and humble.”

Roster changes trailed their debut, with Kinney and Nielsen adding former R.E.M. guitar tech Buren Fowler and former Mr. Crowes Garden (later The Black Crowes) drummer Jeff Sullivan to the lineup prior to releasing their next album, “Whisper Tames the Lion,” in 1988. That release saw the group break into the Billboard Top 200 (No. 130) for the first time. “Mystery Road” in 1989 gave the band its first significant underground hits with “Honeysuckle Blue” and “Straight to Hell.”

By the time Kinney and Nielsen recorded their breakout album, “Fly Me Courageous,” in 1991, the Georgia rock scene had rocketed into the mainstream behind R.E.M.’s seventh critically and commercially successful release, “Out of Time,” and the Black Crowes’ chart-topping 1990 debut “Shake Your Money Maker.” For Drivin’ N Cryin’, the album’s title track propelled the group to its first top 25 single in the U.S. and put the band in regular rotation on rock radio across the country.

Then there were long, sold-out national tours. Letterman appearances. Festivals. More music videos. Countless television and radio interviews. Critical acclaim and a little bit of international fame. Two years later, “Smoke” sent the band back into the Top 100, and the circus began again.

But the mid-1990s also ushered in the era of grunge and a rebirth of pop and by the end of the decade, Drivin’ N Cryin’ was more or less back to a cultish underground rock band, though now more iconic than burgeoning, having returned from war with giants and mostly won the battles that counted most to their fans: They were unchanged by the fame, and their music could testify to it.

“I keep it simple,” Kinney explains of balancing his music against the music business. “Make the music for yourself … It’s always a fine line to be true to your story, and then a day will come when you might have to sell it. There’s a difference between selling it and selling out. In all honesty, I’ve done a little both. Oh, well.”

Drivin’ N Cryin’ will perform at the Music Hall, 37 John St., Friday with special guest Aaron Tasjan Lee.Doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20/advance, $21.50/day of the show.

Special dinner and a show packages are available for an additional $32 (price does not include tax and gratuity). The package includes one ticket and a prix fixe dinner menu at neighboring Italian restaurant Vincent Chicco’s or Southern restaurant Virginia’s on King.

Tickets are available for purchase at the Charleston Music Hall box office, online at or by phone at 1-800-514-3849. Go to or call the Charleston Music Hall box office at 843-853- 2252 for more information. For dinner reservations, call Vincent Chicco’s at 843-203-3002 or Virginia’s on King at (843) 735-5800.

By Matthew Godbey (Special to The Post and Courier)

Nov 22, 2017

Drivin N Cryin Headed to Studio in January: Interview

You're in Atlanta, circa 1985. You just saw this new band called Drivin N Cryin at the 688 Club, and man, did they kill it. Hard rock with a Southern twist, just the way you like it. After the set you step outside to have a cigarette. The bass player is out there, too, and you introduce yourself. He tells you his name is Tim Nielsen, and then the night turns into a blur of a wild party that you don't quite remember. In the morning, the only thing you're really sure of is that from now on, you're going to see Drivin N Cryin any chance you get.

The years go by and you watch Drivin N Cryin go from a local rock 'n' roll band to a nationally touring band, with a record deal and several critically acclaimed albums. You keep that promise to yourself and see Drivin N Cryin play dozens of times, and you and Nielsen become pals, always catching up over beers between sets. Somewhere around the year 2000 Drivin N Cryin slows down the touring, you meet your wife, move to Charleston and start a family. The wild parties of your youth have mostly been left behind in Atlanta, and you haven't been to a rock show in years. Hell, you don't even smoke cigarettes anymore.

One day you're walking down King Street with your wife and much to your surprise you run into your old pal Tim Nielsen, also with his wife. After a brief moment of surprise and catching up on the street, the lot of you decide to step into Kickin' Chicken for some grub. Naturally, you have tons of questions for Tim, and he's more than happy to hang out and chat.

"What are you doing in Charleston?" you ask Tim.

"Moved to Mt. Pleasant about five years ago," Tim replies. "Love it here."

"Still playing shows?"

"Yeah man," Tim says. "Actually have a show Friday night at the Music Hall."

"Do any of these kids even know who Drivin N Cryin is?"

"You'd be surprised. We sold out the Windjammer a few months back. Crowd was a big mix of age groups. We had sixty year old guys out there actin' like they're twenty. Rock 'n' roll is coming back in style with the younger folks, too."

"What's the Windjammer?"

"You've never heard of the Windjammer? You need to get on Facebook, man."

"I don't know about that Facebook."

"If you were on there, you'd know that this town has a great scene. There's this Americana craze taking hold right now, and Drivin N Cryin was kind of the pioneers of all that."

This conversation is starting to make you feel old, but you're also starting to feel that rock bug that infected you so often in your twenties. You think maybe it's time to get out there and see Drivin N Cryin play again, but before you jump to conclusions you want to learn some more. First, though, you call over the waiter and order a beer. You can't remember the last time you drank a beer in the middle of the day. But, you know, rock 'n' roll.

"Is there anything different about the shows in the 80s and 90s and the shows y'all play now?"

"Well, obviously we're older now, but other than that not really much. The main difference now is that we're a combination of a band that plays new original music, and then we can touch that nostalgic tone with people, and bring them back to when they were younger, those days and those times. We're not up there to preach anything, we let the lyrics speak for themselves, entertain people and take them away from their everyday problems and everyday stress. It's an outlet for people to enjoy themselves, without an agenda. We just want people to have fun."

"Did you say new music? Are you guys still writing songs?"

"We're actually writing songs now, because we have plans to go to the studio in January. We've been working on a few demos, we've got a few songs recorded. We're gonna start on a new full-length album project in Nashville. Aaron Tasjan is going to produce it, and that's actually who's playing with us on Friday night at the Music Hall."

"Wow, I've really been out of the loop. Is the process still the same?"

"It's getting back to the way it was, man. It feels really good. You know, we used to have a practice room, and we practiced 3 or 4 days a week, and we would work out the songs there. We even had a little 8 track rigged up in there. Then the record company came along and we started writing songs on the road, at soundcheck, and since we were on the road so much we didn't need a practice room anymore. Now, though, we're on the road mostly on the weekends, and we have to set aside time to write and practice again. So we're gonna go to Nashville, we're gonna get in a practice room, and we're gonna work."

You're starting to get really excited about all this news, and you've pretty much decided to go see Drivin N Cryin at the Charleston Music Hall on Friday night. If Tim can find the time to go record, practice, and play shows, you can certainly find the time to go see him play. Plus, it would make for a great date night with your wife. The wheels are certainly turning now, but you still want to know more.

"I think this is awesome, Tim."

"Me too, man. We're almost like a new band again. We don't have a record deal right now, but if a record company comes along, and wants to get on board, that's great. Either way, we're all in, and I think we've got a good thing going with this approach."

"How about the lineup?"

"Well, you know, we've mostly been a 3-piece for all these years, but the lead guitar has switched out a number of times. The last time we recorded we had this young guy named Sadler Vaden in the band, and made some really great music with him. He went off to go play with Jason Isbell and then Aaron Lee Tasjan stepped in, and then Warner Hodges. Now we've got little Joe, Laurer Joamets, he's from Estonia, and played on both Sturgill Simpson records. It was tricky trying to fill in the guitar spot, for sure, with guys going in all different directions, but we've got Joe committed and we're excited to go to Nashville with him in January.

"Last question, Tim. Will you be playing any of these new songs on Friday night?"

"I get the feeling you haven't listened to Drivin N Cryin since our first live album came out back in '99, so most of it will be new to you. But you know, we don't really ever make a setlist. Kevn just rounds off tunes based off what he thinks the crowd is like that night. We've got a lot of songs to choose from, so it makes for a really fun time."

You've certainly made up your mind by now. You're going to see Drivin N Cryin at the Charleston Music Hall on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

"Oh and by the way, if you come to the show, drink the Island Coastal Lager. We're donating $3 per beer to the Lowcountry Food Bank."

It's come to the end of your lunch with Tim Nielsen, and you get ready to pay your tab and part ways. When the check comes, you realize that you've hardly even touched your beer. Tim looks at you with a raised eyebrow, and you know what you have to do. The problem is, you aren't sure if you can stomach it, but you're going to do it anyway. You put that bottle to your lips and down it in three large gulps. It doesn't go down easy, but it feels good after a little burp, much to your wife's dismay. When you get home, you sign up for Facebook and after an hour or so you finally figure out how to follow Drivin N Cryin. From there you snag tickets to the Music Hall and you're well on your way to going to another rock show.


I had some fun with this one, so I hope you enjoyed it. Tickets to Drivin N Cryin and Aaron Lee Tasjan at the Charleston Music Hall are $20, and are available here. The band is hoping to make this a little Thanksgiving tradition, so get out there and help make this first installment a good one. Share this article and tell your friends to come too. Rock on.

By Chris Huber
Link to article:

Drivin’ N’ Cryin’: Mystery Road (Island Records/UMe)

Mystery Road, the third album by Georgia rockers Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, found Kevn Kinneyand company continuing the band’s unintentional, unconventional, out-of-sync major label career. Signed on the basis of the band’s fantastic, gritty rock debut album, Scarred But Smarter, its major label debut album, Whisper Tames The Lion, shocked both fans and label, as it was a quiet, folk-minded record that didn’t sound much like the band’s intense, gritty live show. So when the band began working on their third album, they decided to call on their friend, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, to produce. It was an inspired choice; not only were they contemporaries in the Georgia scene, but they were enjoying massive success with their album, Green, and were on the cusp of international stardom. Buck and holed up and recorded over a dozen songs, yet the label balked, opting instead to use Scott McPherson. Ultimately, though, it didn’t matter who produced, because Mystery Roadturned out to be a fantastic album irrespective of its producer, for when you compare the Buck demos with the finished product, the sound really doesn’t change that much. (The demos mainly feature Mystery Road versions, though “MacDougal Street” and “Not Afraid To Die” would appear on Kinney’s solo album MacDougal Street, while “1988” would appear on Smoke, and, oddly enough, “Mystery Road” would remain unreleased until now.)

Mystery Road is the sound of a band that’s blending traditional Southern Rock with a bit of folk-rock and country that results in a unique stylistic amalgam that doesn’t really sound like anything before it. The album opens up with the haunting, Appalaccian-inspired “Ain’t It Strange,” replete with fiddle and banjo breakdown, and then is immediately followed by “Toy Never Played With,” a balls-out Southern rock number. “Honeysuckle Blue,” a gorgeous Southern rock ballad that sounded like it should have been a big hit, is then followed by “With The People,” a dark R.E.M.-style number that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Out Of Time. But the most endearing song is the album’s closing anthem, the barroom rock sing-along “Straight To Hell,” a number that has not lost its edge and sounds damn good when they play it live and sounds even better when you’re half-lit. And that’s the delightful thing about Mystery Road—when you first listen to it, trying to pin down the band can prove to be a mystery, and yet the beauty and the quality of the music never suffers from what could easily be seen as an identity crisis.

Yet in true Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ style, the band’s next album would be another incredible sonic shift; Fly Me Courageous would be a hard rock album with a title song that would become a fluke hit that tied into the patriotism around the first Gulf War, and the band would double-down on this style for their next album, the heavy metal-minded Smoke. The tumult of this era nearly destroyed Kevn Kinney, but he would pull out of his self-destructive spiral, and the band is still active today, still playing out, and still releasing music. (We highly recommend the superb documentary Scarred But Smarter to learn about the full history of the band and the inspirational tale of perseverance.)

Mystery Road has long been an obscure gem, beloved by those who knew of its existence. This deluxe reissue offers up a chance for rediscovery, and it is encouraging to know that the album’s lost none of its potency. Here’s hoping that the rest of the band’s superb back catalog gets the reissue treatment, as Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ is a band deserving of revival.

Mystery Road is available now via UMe.

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BY  ON OCTOBER 24, 2017


Link to article:

Drivin N Cryin: Mystery Road Re-issued

Drivin N Cryin Mystery Road 2017 Re-issue. Click to pre-order. Out 10/6/2017.

It’s crazy and weird and fantastic to have bands I snuck out of the house to see (R.E.M. and Drivin N Cryin) continue to matter to music fans so much that their albums get re-issued. I’m pretty sure I’ve told y’all the story of not getting hired at a Columbus, Ohio, radio station in the late 1980s when the Program Director asked me who my favorite Atlanta band was and I said, “Drivin N Cryin.” He said, “I only know one song from them, and I don’t like it. Too country.” I ended up working at that station anyway by co-hosting the morning show. I laughed my head off when the PD drunkenly sang “Straight to Hell” at the station Christmas party. Joke’s on you, dude.

As a fan of the band since before their debut album was released, I forget that Mystery Road and Fly Me Courageous are the albums most Southerners knew from Drivin N Cryin. The band played a lot of the material before it ended up on the album, so the vocal mix on the release of “Honeysuckle Blue” (with Atlanta legend, Michelle Malone) stuck out oddly. I was surprised that audiences in the Midwest, where I was living, latched on to the harder rock songs like “Toy Never Played With” and “You Don’t Know Me” and didn’t seem to “get” the dance-able ones like “Ain’t It Strange” or the softer ones like “With the People.” The song that clearly was the live anthem (moving out my favorite “Scarred But Smarter”) was “Straight to Hell,” a crowd sing-along, where the rednecks, punks, and hippies all felt the song was about them.

The upcoming expanded double album re-issue of Mystery Road is exciting for mega-fans and those who arrived to Kevn Kinney’s songs later in life. Primarily, the songs have been remastered and the long-known but not heard demos produced by Peter Buck (R.E.M.) are part of this special package. After Whisper Tames the Lion, the local chatter was that Buck was producing Drivin N Cryin’s next album, but when it came time for release, it was some “outsider” (Scott MacPherson). Not knowing how labels and band obligations and recording and “the machine” worked at the time, my crew of Atlanta fans felt that the album was a bit “slick” for our guys. These Buck-produced demos, though, tease of the direction the album might have gone, had that synergy of Georgia jangle happened. I like that they are demos, because the songs are raw and plain and share how song ideas can change, with time, with influences, and with instrumentation. Listen to one of Drivin N Cryin’s demos, produced by Peter Buck, the omitted title track, “Mystery Road.”

The DNC lineup at the time of Mystery Road included founders Kevn Kinney and Tim Neilsen, former Kansas and R.E.M. guitar tech, Buren Fowler (RIP), and Jeff Sullivan, who had recently left Mr. Crowe’s Garden (who later re-emerged as Southern Rockers, The Black Crowes). The band has played more in the last several years than the decade prior, with drummer Dave V. Johnson, and a rotating cast of lead guitar players, from Aaron Lee TasjanSadler Vaden (now in Jason Isbell’s band), Warner E. Hodges (Jason & The Scorchers, Dan Baird/Georgia Satellites), to recently Laur Joamets (Sturgill Simpson’s former lead guitar player, and a noted musician and songwriter in his own right, just like the others). Kinney writes prolifically, once telling me that he’ll keep putting out new records for the rest of his life. Their live shows do not follow a fixed set list, and I don’t think they’ve ever played the same show twice. Kevn told me years ago that they all know 100 Drivin N Cryin and Kinney solo songs, and he pulls them out on the fly.

Long-time friend of the band, Darius Rucker, recorded “Straight to Hell” for his upcoming new album. Rucker often sings that song live, especially if you catch him at charity gigs or unofficial nights out. I’m not a Hootie hater, and frankly don’t understand that energy at all. Hell, don’t we all want to hear him sing “rain” in four more songs? I commend him for seeing the potential of this song in a pop country market, and I hope Kevn Kinney and Tim Neilsen get some nice mailbox money out of it.

By  September 27, 2017

Darius Rucker’s New Album Features a Collaboration With Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean & Charles Kelley on “Straight to Hell”

Exclusive: Listen to An Unreleased Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ Demo Produced by Peter Buck of R.E.M.

Atlanta-based band Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ recorded a Peter Buck-produced demo titled “Mountaintop” for their 1989 classic album Mystery Road, but the track was never released … until now. “Mountaintop” will be included on an expanded edition of Mystery Road due out on Oct. 6, and you can listen to the track right now, exclusively at Paste.

Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s forthcoming deluxe edition of Mystery Road includes both a remastering of the original record and nine previously unreleased Buck demos, many of which ended up on frontman Kevn Kinney’s debut solo album, MacDougal Blues, also produced by Buck.

“Mountaintop” is an ambling, upbeat track “about climbing up a mountain to find yourself,” as Kinney sings. The rustic tune is highlighted by bright mandolin notes and inviting vocal harmonies. Kinney tells Paste the song is “about spending years to accomplish what you thought you needed to accomplish and find out you’ve been standing on top of it the whole time.”

Kinney also recalls writing “Mountaintop,” and how the song helped to shape Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s sound from square one:

“Mountaintop” was actually a song I wrote when I first retired … at the ripe old age of 23! I was in the Milwaukee punk avant-garde scene and had sold off all my possessions, grabbed a girl and left town, never to return. First stop, Graceland … Memphis, Tennessee!

We opened all of our shows with it for the first year or so. People would come out to the shows expecting to hear this way-out psychedelic punk band and we would walk out with an acoustic guitar, mandolin and a tambourine. It helped to define us as the band that was like your record collection, or a wedding for that matter. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something to blow your mind.

You can preorder Mystery Road Expanded Edition in double LP, CD or digital formats here. Listen to “Mountaintop” and the band’s 2013 Daytrotter Session below, and see their tour dates further down, plus the Mystery Road Expanded Edition tracklist and album art.

Mystery Road Expanded Edition Tracklist: 01. Ain’t It Strange 02. Toy Never Played With 03. Honeysuckle Blue 04. With The People 05. Wild Dog Moon 06. Home For Sale 07. Peacemaker 08. You Don’t Know Me 09. Malfunction Junction 10. Straight To Hell 11. Syllables 12. Honeysuckle Blue (demo) 13. Toy Never Played With (demo) 14. You Don’t Know Me (demo) 15. Malfunction Junction (demo) 16. 1988 (demo) 17. Mystery Road (demo) 18. MacDougal Blues (demo) 19. Not Afraid To Die (demo) 20. Mountaintop (demo)

Mystery Road Expanded Edition Album Art:

Drivin N Cryin Mystery Road Album Art.jpg

Drivin’ n’ Cryin’s Mystery Road Repaved

Almost 32 years from the date of their first performance at Atlanta’s 688 (10/9/85), Island Records will re-release Drivin’ n’ Cryin’s third album Mystery Road in multiple formats on October 6th.

Following up 1988’s Whisper Tames the Lion, a year on the road all over the world found DNC on fertile creative ground, knocking out sounds that adorn multiple future band albums as well as Kevn Kinney’s 1990 solo release MacDougal Blues. Mystery Road was chock full of rockers (“Honeysuckle Blue,” “Toy Never Played With,” “Malfunction Junction”), slightly poppier tunes (“Wild Dog Moon,” “House for Sale”) and folk-country (“With the People,” “Ain’t It Strange,” “Straight to Hell,” the latter covered by Darius Rucker on his upcoming album When Was the Last Time, out Oct. 20th). In other words, pretty much what Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ were about. After Pete Buck recorded a number of demos with the band (included on the re-release as bonus tracks) showcasing the raw edge of their live shows, Island decided he didn’t have enough of a name/resumé or some such nonsense, so Scott MacPherson was chosen as producer, and what we know as Mystery Road was released in February 1989. The label still didn’t know what to do with them (releasing “Wild Dog Moon” to radio at the same time they released “Straight to Hell” as a 45/cassingle in stores), and MTV liked “Honeysuckle Blue” enough to use it as bumper music for one of their contests but not enough to feature the video in any regular rotation.

Twenty-eight years later, the album should still be heard. For those who already own it, the sharper remastered sound and demos are worth a fresh purchase, plus you finally get the title song, “Mystery Road,” bumped from the original release at the last minute in favor of “Syllables.” For those who don’t own it, here’s a small sample of what the Atlanta music scene was about in the late ‘80s.

Mystery Road Re-Issue





Los Angeles – September 1, 2017 – With its hard-charging mix of driving rock, country twang and punk rock sneer, Southern rock stalwarts Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s third album Mystery Road quickly became one of the band’s most beloved records when released in 1989. Called a “classic of the genre” by the Washington Post, the album contains two of the Atlanta band’s best known songs - the anthemic “Honeysuckle Blue” and the galvanizing sing-along “Straight To Hell,” which nearly three decades later are still fan-favorite fixtures in the road warrior’s live sets. On October 6, Island Records/UMe will release an expanded edition of the long out-of-print Mystery Road featuring the remastered original album along with nine previously unreleased demos produced by Peter Buck of R.E.M. The album, which includes essays from Buck and the band’s former manager, veteran music industry exec James Barber, will be available as a double LP, single CD and digital. A limited edition of 500 LPs will be pressed on opaque teal vinyl and be available exclusively via The Sound of Vinyl: Pre-order Mystery Road now:

Mystery Road really exemplified the split personalities of Drivin' N’ Cryin',” says singer, songwriter and guitarist Kevn Kinney. “I really felt that the crossroads of Americana were not limited to country and folk and there was more to it than just Townes and Hank Williams. Why not Aerosmith? Why not a little Quicksilver Messenger Service? What about The Seeds and The Trashmen and The Ramones? We have stuck to this thesis in rock n roll ever since. I continually ask the music listener to challenge and confront the label system of the musical industrial complex. Mystery Road was our first real chance to do that.”

With a band name meant to reflect the duality of their music, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, comprised of Kinney, bassist Tim Nielsen, guitarist/dobroist Buren Fowler and drummer Jeff Sullivan, wasted no time driving their unique approach home on Mystery Road, produced by Scott MacPherson and Kinney and Nielsen. “Ain’t It Strange” opens the record with a fiddle-laden jig that belies their Southern rock sound but is quickly followed by “Toy Never Played With,” a hard rocker complete with all the touchstones of late ‘80s rock n roll – big guitars, big drums and howling vocals. Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, the band expertly vacillate between a range of genres – from folk to punk to rock and country – and back again.

In addition to Mystery Road sounding better than ever with a fresh remaster, the expanded edition contains demos produced by Peter Buck previously unreleased until now. “We had a whirlwind demo session at John Keane's studio in Athens with Buck producing,” reveals Kinney. “Peter is our hero. Then and now. He’s a positively energetic music collector, reflector, professor. He had seen us from our very first shows, sometimes one of five people at our Athens gigs. We ran into R.E.M on the road in St. Louis after we finished our record Whisper Tames The Lion and I remember playing it for him in the hotel where the band was having an after show hangout. He didn't like it and I was a little crushed. He invited us to stay at his house and we brought a lot of the half-baked songs we had written in the practice room and at the soundchecks. Many of the songs were just ideas such as the riff in ‘Honeysuckle Blues’ and the complicated Aerosmith Zep of ‘You Don't Know Me’ and ‘Malfunction Junction.’ I think we would have made a great final record together but not everyone was sold that Peter had the time to dedicate to the record because of R.E.M.’s schedule. I disagreed but in the end it wasn't my money.”

Many of the demos that didn’t make Mystery Road were the basis for Kinney’s first solo album, MacDougal Blues, produced by Buck at John Keane’s studio. One track however didn’t make either album but did give Mystery Road its name. Listen to “Mystery Road” here:

“I'm so glad the demos are being heard here as a companion piece to the re-release of Mystery Road, but also as a companion piece to those of you who love my first solo record,” enthuses Kinney. “These two records live side by side. I encourage you to put them together in a playlist and hit shuffle. It's so cool!”

Celebrating their 32nd Anniversary together, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ have spent most of 2017 on tour. With Dave V. Johnson as their drummer and the band’s newest member Laur Joamets now being added to the lineup, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ is continuing to tour the U.S. to great acclaim.

In October 1985 Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ played their first show at Atlanta’s famed 688 Club. The band quickly gained attention for its blistering live shows and amassed a rabid fanbase in the fertile soil of the late-1980s Southeast music scene. Now, 32 years later and releasing four full length albums on Island Records and one on Geffen Records founding members Kinney and Nielsen find themselves enjoying a milestone anniversary for the band, having survived the pressures of fame, a shifting musical landscape, multiple lineup changes, and miles of backroads and highways to arrive here.

With a gold record, 10 full-length albums, and a handful of EPs to their credit, the band still refuses to rest. In 2012, a documentary about the band entitled “Scarred but Smarter: Life n Times of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’” was produced. In 2015, a collection of 10 choice cuts from the band’s 4-EP “Songs” series, entitled Best of Songs, was released on Nashville’s Plowboy Records. Additionally, the band was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame the same year. The following year, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ released a vinyl-only album, entitled Archives Vol One, with a collection of basement recordings from the years 1988 to 1990.

Twenty-eight years on, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s Mystery Road standout “Straight To Hell” continues to resonant stronger than ever. Country star Darius Rucker has cut the song for his upcoming new album, When Was The Last Time, joined by fellow superstars Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum. Earlier this week, American Songwriter featured the timeless song as their “Lyric of the Week,” exclaiming: “Georgia’s Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ derived its name from the two general categories into which their songs tend to fall. ‘Straight To Hell,’ the band’s wonderfully woeful track from 1989’s Mystery Road, certainly falls closer to the “cryin’” part of the equation. But it rises above your typical tears-in-your-beer song thanks to the telling details, the sly sense of humor, and the idiosyncrasy of the narrator’s tale.”

Comfortable with their past and confident in their future, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ has an arsenal of songs, a full tank of gas, and no plans of stopping any time soon.

MYSTERY ROAD EXPANDED EDITION TRACKLISTING 1. Ain’t It Strange 2. Toy Never Played With 3. Honeysuckle Blue 4. With The People 5. Wild Dog Moon 6. Home For Sale 7. Peacemaker 8. You Don’t Know Me 9. Malfunction Junction 10. Straight To Hell 11. Syllables 12. Honeysuckle Blue (demo) 13. Toy Never Played With (demo) 14. You Don’t Know Me (demo) 15. Malfunction Junction (demo) 16. 1988 (demo) 17. Mystery Road (demo) 18. MacDougal Blues (demo) 19. Not Afraid To Die (demo) 20. Mountaintop (demo)


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Tim Plumley, UMe: (310) 865-7797 |

Belvedere may be gone, but Drivin N Cryin founders still riding the roads


Drivin N Cryin
Kevn Kinney (left) and Tim Nielsen, the founders of Drivin N Cryin, will return with their band to The Shed in Maryville on Saturday.

Founders Tim Nielsen and Kevn Kinney are still rocking more than 30 years later; Saturday, they’ll bring the group back to The Shed Smokehouse and Juke Joint in Maryville, and the enthusiasm of getting on stage and churning through a set of rock ‘n’ roll with one of his best friends still brings out the boyish enthusiasm in Nielsen. It’s the same feeling he got when he recognized a kindred spirit all those years ago, he told The Daily Times this week.

“I was playing in a band called The Nightporters, and we were opening for all the cool bands that came to town and and did a couple of tours up the East Coast,” Nielsen said. “One night, I went to see this punk band from Milwaukee at the Metroplex, and this guy gets on stage with them and starts doing some songs, and it was Kevn. I didn’t know anything about him, but I walked up after the show and said, ‘Wow, man, that was really great; you sort of remind me of Ray Davies from The Kinks.’

“We wound up hanging out and taking a ride to another club, and we rode in his ‘64 Belvedere. He had a demo tape of stuff he’d been working on, and it wasn’t long after that we started jamming. The Nightporters weren’t seeing eye to eye at the time, so Paul (Lenz) and I decided to join forces with Kevn. By the time we did our third gig, we were selling out the 688 Club. Everybody saw what was happening, based on his story and my story, and there was this awareness.”

The band didn’t kick down the doors like some of their mid-’80s Georgia peers, but for anyone who paid attention to the radio at the time, the music made by the band is the perfect Southern rock compliment to fellow Atlanta rockers the Black Crowes. Kinney’s weary, warbling vocals and the driving power chords of his bandmates gave Drivin N Cryin a ragged sort of beauty that was at once a throwback to “Life’s Rich Pageant”-era R.E.M. and a step in a new direction.

After becoming one of most beloved local bands in Atlanta-Athens scene, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ released its debut record, “Scarred But Smarter,” and landed a contract with Island Records. College rock radio latched onto the band, which earned some commercial play as well over the course of albums like “Whisper Tames the Lion,” “Mystery Road” and “Fly Me Courageous.” After a 1997 self-titled album, however, the guys put the Drivin N Cryin name on the shelf. Kinney released several solo albums, many of them featuring collaborations with his old bandmates, and after surgery in 2007 to remove a cyst on his larynx, he and his wife went into the studio to cut a folk record. One of the songs from that session, the working-class rocker “Preapproved, Predenied,” became a jumping off-point for a new Drivin N Cryin project.

 “The Great American Bubble Factory” was released in 2009, the band’s last full-length and one of its best. They’ve released a number of EPs in the years since, and there are some new projects and surprises in the works that Nielsen isn’t ready to talk about yet. One thing he can say: Darius Rucker, who came out of that whole Southern pop-rock scene with Hootie and the Blowfish before finding bigger fame as a country artist, has cut a version of “Straight to Hell” for his new album, scheduled for an October release. The song includes guest vocals by fellow country superstars Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum.

These days, Kinney and Nielsen are joined by drummer Dave V. Johnson and guitarist Laur Joamets of Estonia, who most recently left a five-year gig with Sturgill Simpson. They’re planning to cut a new record in the fall, Nielsen added, and chances are good they’ll be back on the road next year, perhaps stopping by The Shed once more, rolling into town in a van instead of a ‘64 Belvedere, but still the same friends bonded by the same love of music.

“It’s just a good relationship, because there’s never anything we can’t talk about,” said Nielsen, who also functions as the band’s manager. “We’re like brothers — it’s very open, and we kid each other. We know when it’s time to talk and when it’s time to shut up. And it’s just a great place to be able to jump into a band with your old buddies and go play rock ’n’ roll on the weekends.”


Steve Wildsmith is the Weekend editor for The Daily Times. Contact him at or at 981-1144, follow him on Twitter @TNRockWriter and “Like” Weekend on Facebook at

On the Carolina Road with Drivin’ n Cryin’s Tim Nielsen

Tim Nielsen is stuck in traffic outside of Augusta, Georgia. Driving from South Carolina to get to band practice in Atlanta, his mood is still light in spite of the great American highway system. “Just trying to make good music, one day at a time,” he says, and his dedication to his art is obvious in our phone conversation. Even though the bassist for tried and true rock partisans Drivin’ n Cryin’ now calls Mt. Pleasant, SC his family’s home, Georgia will always be a part of the rocker’s life.

As the young kid who moved from Minneapolis with his family to Roswell, Georgia, Nielsen probably couldn’t predict that one day he would play in a storied Southern rock band that would eventually warrant an induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Growing up inspired by both classic rock and punk, Tim just knew he liked to rock and gained some fame around Atlanta as a member of punk band the Night Porters in the early ’80s, opening for the Clash, R.E.M. and the Replacements. It was when he met Milwaukee transplant Kevn Kinney, one night jamming with his hometown buddies, the legendary hardcore band Die Kreuzen, that the roots of their 30+ year musical companionship would take hold. Kinney was aiming to morph up his punk origins from the seminal Ramonescore of his old band, the Prosecutors, to something folkier, more Dylan. When the two joined forces with drummer Paul Lenz, Drivin’ n Cryin’ was born.

photo courtesy Satisfied Entertainment_Nickie Stone

Since 1985, the band has existed on and off and in various incarnations, but always with the core duo of Nielsen and Kinney. They made lots of records, major label and indie, some even charting pretty high in the late ’80s/ early ’90s, and have enjoyed a wide spectrum of fans throughout its years. Alternative, Metal, Country, Folk, Punk fans… you can see it all at a D’n’C show. They would play shows with Lynyrd Skynyrd one day and Sonic Youth on another and it always made sense. I think besides the Bad Brains, they are the only band that I ever saw played on both “Headbanger’s Ball” and “120 Minutes”. The dichotomy has puzzled and intrigued music fans for over a generation. It’s not confusing at all, if you ask Tim; “The definition of Drivin’ n Cryin’ is a singer-songwriter, a folk singer, Kevn Kinney, that has a rock n’ roll band – if Donovan played in Led Zeppelin.” That formula has kept the band going for over three decades and the bassist doesn’t expect to let up soon, “As long as we’re breathing, man! I don’t think musicians retire – I think they just die.”

Maybe rockers don’t retire, but they have been known to relocate near the beach. Enter Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, the home of Nielsen and his family since around 2011. “We love it… we made a great choice,” he enthuses and his love and support for the burgeoning Charleston-area music explosion is authentic. “I’m a big fan of Travelin’ KineSustothe High DiversShe Returns from War. There are some really cool things going on in Charleston that are unique to the Charleston music scene and I’m definitely a champion for those bands. Stoplight ObservationsAtlas Road Crew… just a bunch of really great quality bands,” he says and you can tell Nielsen has made the Low Country his musical home, citing Mark Bryan, Scotty Frier and Luke Cunningham as good friends. His advice for younger bands is simple, but well said: “You gotta do it for the sake of the art, of the music. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices, you have to work, you have to go on the road. You just have to work really hard, but at the end of the day, if you are true to your art, the world will figure it out. Don’t try so hard to be a pop star. Just be an artist. It’s important to practice. It’s important to learn your instrument. If you wrote the song, that’s not enough, you gotta be a musician.”

Another important piece of the local connection would be Sadler Vaden, the South Carolina guitarist who joined Drivin’ n Cryin’ for shows and making four incredible EPs with the band from 2012-2014. The guitar hero was a great shot in the arm for the band and even though he has moved on to a permanent spot in Grammy-winning Americana troubadour Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit, he still plays shows with Tim and Kevn when his schedule affords it. The revolving character of the lead guitarist spot has led to a slew of great guest stars for D’n’C, including the aforementioned Mark Bryan, upcoming Nashville indie folk great Aaron Lee Tasjan and the seminal cowpunk guitar warrior, Warner E. Hodges of Jason & the Scorchers. When asked who might play on an album of new material in progress, Tim plays coy, “It will probably be an LP, with… special collaborators.”

The prospect of new music will keep both the interest of old-time fans and those who might have caught Scarred but Smarter, the band documentary that has been doing well (you can watch it on Amazon Prime, also). Making the EPs and their subsequent vinyl compilation has kept the band busy and vital and the band still tears up a stage live, doing short jaunts around the US or Europe and the occasional cruise boat show, even now. “Honeysuckle Blue, Straight to Hell, Fly Me Courageous… we’ll always play those songs live, we’re happy to do it. We love to see the reaction that people still have and it brings back memories of youth or times in their lives when they were carefree. That’s a big payoff for us,” he says. Before we got off the phone and I let Tim enjoy the I-20 countryside, I ask what keeps a guy grounded after so many ups and downs with fame in the music business. “Number one, it’s my wife and children,” he replies. “As an artist, the priorities have changed. We’re not trying to beat out the Black Crowes on the Mtv charts or whatever. We do it for ourselves, we do it for our fans”. We hope y’all keep on letting us dig the Southern scenery with you for a long time, Tim.


Sean Knight

April 4, 2017

Q&A: Kevn Kinney of Drivin' N Cryin' talks vinyl, folk music, legacy

Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Phil W. Hudson recently spoke to Kevn Kinney, the lead singer and guitarist of the Atlanta-based Southern rock band Drivin' N Cryin'.

Kinney (first name stylized Kevn) formed Drivin' N Cryin' in 1985 with bassist Tim Nielsen and drummer Paul Lenz. In 1986, the band released its first album "Scarred But Smarter" on 688 Records which led to national attention and a new record deal with Island Records, a division of Universal Music Group. With numerous albums released, including one certified gold, the band signed to the Universal Music Group label Geffen Records in 1994.

The band is known by most Atlantans for its 1986 song "Straight To Hell," which is off the band's "Mystery Road" record. The song, now more than 30 years old, is still a fixture of commercial radio in the city.

Kinney, a Milwaukee native, and Drivin' N Cryin' are touring and still making music. The band was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2015 and is currently promoting “Best Of Songs.” Kinney will play a solo show at Eddies Attic in Decatur March 15 and Drivin' N Cryin' will be in Atlanta to perform at The Vista Room March 31 and April 1.

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Drivin' N Cryin' has been around for more than 30 years. What is different about your show today compared to when the band first started?

Kevn Kinney: Well, it’s a lot better. (Laughs) The thing about doing it for 30 years is that you can’t help but to get better. The band is tighter. I wish I sang and played as good when we had all of the attention on us.

After 30 years, you decide you’re in it for the right reasons. If you’re not in it for the right reasons, you won’t stick around. We enjoy playing music together. We enjoy the touring now. We run the business our way so that we don’t do Mondays and Tuesdays in Salt Lake City or Omaha anymore. We do weekends now and make every gig count. I play every gig like it’s my last show.

ABC: Looking back at your career, what is one business decision you wish you could do differently?

KK: There’s a lot of ‘em but I don’t know what the one decision is that I would have done differently. I have this song called “One by One” that goes ‘One by one, seeds they fall. Plant themselves like feet down in the ground. And one by one those seeds they grow into something new.’ Everything [expletive] turns into something nice, you know? (Laughs) Sometimes you have to fall flat on your face to understand where you’re going to be some day. Did I get bitch-slapped a lot in business because of the stupid things I did? Absolutely, but I wouldn’t be here doing this today if I hadn’t. And I think where we are today is really great. We’re happy, we’re professional and we’re out here to win it.

ABC: Why did you decide to hold your next Atlanta shows at The Vista Room (story on The Vista Room here)?

KK: I really love that place and love the idea of those guys opening a room in that neighborhood. Drivin' N Cryin' just wants to support it. We have a lot of fans in that neighborhood so we’ll try to get them all to come out. Drivin' N Cryin' always tries to play a different room every year. We try to not to play the same kind of show so I think these shows are going to be great ones. It’s going to be cool to see Drivin' N Cryin' on LaVista Road, you know?

ABC: Was there a business reason as to why you only released “Best Of Songs” on vinyl?

KK:“Best Of Songs” is an album with the best of our five EPs. It actually just came out on CD last month but vinyl sells better than anything else these days. People don’t buy as many CDs because they mostly download music or stream it. If they want to buy a physical copy, they like to by vinyl because vinyl is chic, popular now. But, vinyl also sounds amazing. A lot of people have record players again. Having vinyl is kind of a trendy-hip thing to do but it also looks cool because you get the full-on album cover. I prefer vinyl. I personally don’t own a CD player or a steaming device. I only listen to vinyl at home.

ABC: I met you for the first time at Alex Cooley’s Celebration of Life (story on Cooley here) and reconnected with you backstage at a few of Col. Bruce Hampton’s (interview with Hampton here) shows. They are two pillars of Atlanta’s music scene. Other than your time in the scene, how did you connect with the upper echelon of Atlanta’s music industry?

KK: Alex courted us when we got bigger to do larger rooms. He took us out to dinner and started mentoring us basically, helping us develop a strategy. Up until then, we were doing whatever we wanted and took every gig. I met him and Peter Conlon (interview with Conlon here) together and they were both great for us.

The Col. was there the first day we got a lawyer. I think he just got done playing tennis with Charlie Phillips, who was our lawyer. We went over to Charlie’s house to play him some music and the Col. was sitting there. That’s how I met him but he’s a legend. Even in Milwaukee, a lot of my friends were his fans and Zappa fans. They’ve heard of the infamous Col. Bruce in the avant-garde scene, the Captain Beefheart scene. I had heard of him even when I was in Milwaukee in the early 80s.

ABC: You lived in Athens, Ga., for a bit then moved to New York and moved back to Georgia this year. What brought you back to Georgia?

KK: I got tired of banging my head against the wall in New York. It dawned on me one day that I should play where people know who I am instead of trying to play every Monday night for people who don’t know who you are. It dawned on me that a lot of younger people in New York City aren’t looking for a 55-year-old folk singer to turn them on. (Laughs) You know? It’s a young person’s town. I played in New York when I was a young person and I played it in 1985 when Drivin' N Cryin' started but it’s not a place to try to reinvent yourself, especially if they don’t know who you are. I kind of got tired of it. My family is here; my roots are here and my company (Drivin' N Cryin') is here. After 10 years, I really got tired of the snow. I grew up with that stuff (snow) and don’t want it anymore.

ABC: You just classified yourself as a folk singer. There is a reemergence of folk in the commercial music industry. Why do you think folk music is popular again?

KK: I’m not really popular (laughs) so I wouldn’t know! (Laughs) People know who I am in Atlanta but I’m not a national folk hero. I have a lot of diatribe about the word folk. I meant acoustic mainly.

ABC: Tell me what you think about folk music.

KK: Folk music to me is music that is indigenous to an area. Reggae music is folk music. Classical Indian music is folk music. The Ramones are folk music. Nirvana is folk music. It’s music that sounds like it’s indigenous to an area — that’s what I think folk music is. I think I represent the Eddies Attic-scene and hard rock part of Atlanta. All of that is in our Drivin' N Cryin' music, you know? It’s hard to tell people that if they come to Atlanta they’re not going to find “Gone With the Wind.” They’re going to find a multi-cultural open-minded society with many different layers of people, attitudes and politics. It’s easier for me to show you great Vietnamese food than it is for me to find a Southern mansion. (Laughs)

ABC: What do you want your legacy to be?

KK: That I was honest. What you got is what you got. I never tried to put on airs or tried to write songs that weren’t me. Some of our lyrics are autobiographical. When you see Drivin' N Cryin', you’ll feel like some of the lyrics are autobiographical or you can feel like you just saw a 15-year-old kid practicing in the basement — it’s one of the two. I just love to pretend I’m in a rock 'n' roll and sometimes it works. (Laughs)

Mar 14, 2017