Drivin' N' Cryin' steers its way back to Summerfest

Drivin' N' Cryin', led by Milwaukee ex-pat Kevn Kinney (second from right), will play the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage at Summerfest at 8 p.m. on June 28. (PHOTO: Carlton Freeman)

Drivin' N' Cryin' steers its way back to Summerfest

"I know they are great. I wanted to know why they aren't more of a rock 'n' roll success. I found out they are."

–Director Eric Von Haessler, who spent three years asking why his favorite band, Drivin' N' Cryin', wasn't world-famous in his 2016 documentary "Scarred But Smarter: Life N Times Of Drivin' N' Cryin'"

Out of the emerging mid-'80s Atlanta music scene, Drivin' N' Cryin' was born into the world as a working club band. It briskly rose up out of the famed 688 Club, selling it out after only a few shows based on its reputation as a must-see live band. The core of the band was Kevn Kinney on guitar – a Milwaukee native – and an upper Midwesterner, Tim Nielsen.

Thirty-three years later, Drivin' N' Cryin' is still a club band. However, in a plot twist, it's influenced a generation of Southern rockers.

The group has turned over the lineup a few times over the decades. The current band includes Dave V. Johnson on drums and newest member, guitarist Laur Joamer, who previously played with Sturgill Simpson.

"He brings big time slide stuff to the sound. It's a Tom Petty kinda feel and has brought a much different feel to the work," Nielsen said.

The group is working back towards the approach that helped define an era of Southern rock along with Collective Soul, REM and Pylon.

It started with the Anton Fier (The Feelies/Golden Palominos), who produced "Whisper Tames The Lion," which marked Drivin' N' Cryin's major label debut in 1988. The band charted on college radio behind the single "Can't Promise You The World," which set the table for 1989's hard-charging "Mystery Road," its most influential and critically acclaimed release. Paste Magazine recently ranked it 39 on its 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time rankings. "Ain't It Strange," "Toy Never Played With" and "Honeysuckle Blues" could easily be slipped into rotation as current music.

This music has aged extremely well with time. Darius Rucker recently covered "Straight to Hell," the group's nominal hit from the hit album, with superstar friends Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Charles Kelley. It's created a Drivin' N' Cryin' buzz, bringing new fans to the group.

"We really had nothing to do with Darius' recording," Nielsen said. "He did it all on his own, but the exposure doesn't hurt."

It strengthens the band's case not only for being influential on Southern rock, but also serves as a testament to the weatherproofing effect of solid songwriting.

Kinney still has sizable support and family in the Milwaukee area, and the band's performed recently at Shank Hall and in Green Bay. Not to be outdone, Nielsen made his case as a Wisconsin expatriate: "I spent summers in Rice Lake when I was a kid. I love it up there. We hit Zaffiro's and Mars Cheese Castle. It's very comfortable. We're still friendly with Dan (Kubinski) from Die Kreuzen."

"We play festivals, events and, of course, clubs," Nielsen added. "Each has their own pluses. We find new fans at festivals and sell a lot of merch, but nothing beats a 300-person club where you're in touch with fans. We're still a bar band."

Good thing Summerfest booked them at the closest thing we have to a club setting on the grounds: the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage. Drivin' N' Cryin' will feel a lot more at home with proximity, walls and a roof. The group's played Summerfest a few times, including opening for the Replacements in 1991, but it's admittedly been a while.

"We had to cancel a few years back, and I don't think they liked that too much," Nielsen explained. "Our record company wanted us to work with a specific director for a music video. I'm glad they asked us back. We're excited to play back up there."

Currently Drivin' N' Cryin' is recording for a new full length release, the band's first since 2009's "Great American Bubble Factory" – a critical success but didn't really translate commercially. While the group is close to completion, it is clearly recording at a casual pace.

"We were playing a show in Charleston and slipped into a studio and recorded a track," Nielsen said. "It just felt right. Kevn is reworking vocals for a few of them. It will be done when it's done."

The band has adapted over the years, and the documentary "Scarred but Smarter," captures the label experience – the good and ultimately the bad. Island was its label at the peak, and they exerted some will on the direction of the band.

"These days things are lot different. We are now working with streaming (services) playlists on Spotify, even iTunes is pretty much done," Nielsen clarified, "We have an incredible group of millennials that run our social media and show us the way."

Don't expect to hear much off the upcoming release at its Summerfest show, however. We will have to wait for that, though the band doesn't usually use a traditional set list. "The hour time slot – mostly hits, a few deeper cuts," Nielsen confirmed.

It's a three-decade old story for the punk-gone-folk band that performs with grace and passion, soon to transform the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage into its own private bar show for a Milwaukee guy gone good and his bandmates.

View article: https://onmilwaukee.com/seasonal/festivals/articles/drivin-n-cryin-interview.html

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, ticketstripe.com). 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.


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).

Website: https://www.savingcountrymusic.com/where-is-sturgill-simpsons-former-guitarist-laur-joamets-now/

Atlanta Magazine update on DNC Trailer Theft

Drivin N Cryin Manager Updates Fans on Recent Trailer Theft

by Rich Eldredge for Atlanta Magazine

Despite impressive efforts by fans of the veteran Atlanta rock band in multiple states,Drivin N Cryin manager Kenneth Green tells us the whereabouts of the act's stolen trailer remains a mystery nearly a month after the theft.

Aside from three pieces of gear that later turned up in an Atlanta pawn shop and a photo ID of a man suspected of pawning the instruments, clues have been scarce.

On September 11, the band was gigging in Macon and awoke to discover that their trailer containing all the DNC instruments and stage gear had been stolen from the hotel parking lot.

"This has been quite a blow to the band both financially and emotionally," Green tells us. "Drivin N Cryin is a hard working, working man's band and the stolen items were the tools of their trade."

However, the 25-year-old band has been blown away by the good will of friends and fans.

For example, road case company Georgia Case has built and delivered all brand-new road cases for DNC without asking for a dime (DNC

has insisting on shooting a print ad for the company as a way of saying thanks).

Avatar Events Group and Crossover Entertainment Group, meanwhile, each provided the band with loaner gear so DNC could continue their fall tour. "Without them," explains Green, "the show would not have gone on."

A mystery fan even sent the band a check for $10,000 to help in the purchasing of new gear. Fans all over the Internet have reached out on the band's website and Facebook pages to offer trailers and instruments to the guys.

As a way to say thanks for the outpouring of kindness, DNC is returning to the scene of the crime on Oct. 14 to play a charity show at the Cox Capitol Theatre in Macon. The show is in conjunction with the Georgia Music Hall of Fame for MusiCares and The Bibb County Mentors Project.

Also on the bill: Col. Bruce Hampton, Angie Aparo, Abby Owens and Dead Confederate's Hardy Morris.

For more info, visit the benefit concert's event page on Facebook.