Blackberry Smoke Tones Things Down

Skynyd-loving, globe-trotting Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke’s acoustic EP The Southern Ground Sessions, out Oct. 26 on Three Legged Records, is, for lack of a better bad pun, Nuthin’ Fancy. The group and a couple of high-profile pals met in Nashville to cut five prior album tracks and a Tom Petty cover that sound more like spontaneous campfire sing-alongs than pre-planned Southern rock jam sessions.

Fans should eat up the guest collaborations. Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers – a co-producer of Cicada Rhythm’s latest album – joins the sing- and strum-along party on “Mother Mountain.” An even bigger name in Amanda Shires (pictured here with Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr) stopped by Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Studio in Nashville to aid the band in reimagining its own “Let Me Down Easy” and Petty’s “You Got Lucky.”

It’s a reminder of a couple of things. One, Brown has come a long way from the Dixie Tavern and runs quite the operation. Just as impressively, Blackberry Smoke can round up an impressive roster of collaborators when they decide to try something a little different.

In other news, the band will play their annual benefit concert for children’s cancer research at the Tabernacle in their Atlanta hometown on Friday, Nov. 23. In the five years since they started the yearly turkey season tradition, the band’s raised nearly $200,000 for the cause.