I remember being blown away when I first stumbled on this. Blackberry Smoke are a band I like but always find that little bit more interesting when they’re playing acoustically; team them with everyone’s (well, mine anyway) favourite, slightly off the wall, fiddle player on a great Tom Petty song and what’s not to love?!
Southern Ground is an iconic recording studio in Nashville that started life as a Presbyterian church. Bought by Monument Records founder, Fred Foster, it was converted into a recording studio and spawned a number of significant recordings, including Kris Kristofferson’s first three albums and Neil Young’s “Prairie Wind”. It was acquired by Zac Brown in 2012 and, although he put it up for sale last year, a decision brought about by the financial effects of the pandemic, it hasn’t yet found a buyer and there’s some indication that Brown may be rethinking his decision – it was used for his band’s first ever livestream earlier this year.
Boasting a stunning vaulted ceiling the studios are known for their excellent acoustics, as this clip demonstrates. You can hear all the instruments beautifully and the interplay between Charlie Starr’s acoustic guitar and Amanda Shires’ fine violin playing really rings clear. The song comes from Petty & The Heartbreakers fifth studio album, “Long After Dark” and was a hit, largely on the back of a very good MTV promo. It’s a good song but this was the 1980s so it came drenched with synthesisers, as seemed to be the style at the time! Here, the signature synth riff is replaced by Shires’ keening fiddle and the whole track has a more languid feel than the original, the band really get inside the song. It has often been said that the best songs are those that stand up when played acoustically. This clip shows just how true that old adage is.