Lynyrd Skynyrd Rocks the Ryman

Johnny wants you to know:
“Skynyrd’s in the House!” lynyrd skynyrd zach clayton

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Photo: Zach Clayton

On Monday November 11, the Mother Church of Country Music (the Ryman Auditorium) was transformed into the Mother Church of Southern Rock as Southern Rock icons; Lynyrd Skynyrd shook the cobwebs out of the Ryman’s rafters. Except for a free show on New Year’s Eve about three years ago, it had been a while since Skynyrd played a show in Nashville. I must say the Ryman’s intimate venue was perfect for their return back to Music City.

Ironically, Nashville was the first city the Skynyrd survivors played after the fatal plane crash and the first city they played when they reformed in 1987 with Johnny Van Zandt as lead singer. Johnny now has over 25 years standing in his brother’s spot which is longer than Ronnie had the spot in the first place.  In addition to Johnny and Gary Rossington, Skynyrd is comprised of Rickey Medlocke and Sparky Matejka on guitars, Johnny Colt (Black Crowes, Train) on bass, Michael Cartellone (Damn Yankees) on drums, and Peter Keys on keyboard.  Throw in Carol Chase and Dale Rossington (yes, his wife) and there was a small town on the stage.  While Gary is technically the only remaining “original” member, Medlocke and Cartellone have been in the band well over 10 years each, which makes them “old timers” in my book.

Regardless of the longevity of the band members, the crowd gathered in the Ryman and anxiously awaited the band.  Based upon the age of the crowd, I fully expected an AARP table or leaflet under the seat.  However, when the band came out after AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, the crowd proved that one is never too old to rock & roll.

musings 2The band opened with Last of A Dying Breed which released in 2012, was the only song that the copyright date started with a “2”.  The rest of the set was a stroll down the memory lane of every Southern rock fan.  The band sounded tight and pretty much held true to the original songs.  Medlocke and Sparky employed every stereotypical move ever done by a guitar player while Cartellone brought his large and loud rock drumming to the stage and once again proved that he belongs on the stage with the “big boys”.  Johnny Van Zandt provided strong vocals while periodically proclaiming “Skynyrd’s in the house!”

The band closed the set with Sweet Home Alabama.  During this song, I wondered if the younger members of the audience really knew what Watergate was or did they care.   Leave it to this Tennessee fan to be seated behind an Alabama fan who for some reason would turn and yell “roll tide roll” every time “Sweet Home Alabama” was sung.   Of course, even the Alabama fan could figure out that the Southern rock anthem Free Bird would be the finale and the band didn’t disappoint.  The song came large and loud from a golden eagle statue on the piano to a disco ball the size of Haiti.  When the song finished, I don’t think there was an ounce of energy left in either the band or the audience.  Here is the complete set list:

  • Last of a Dyin’ Breed
  • Call Me the Breeze
  • What’s Your Name
  • Gimme Back My Bullets
  • Down South Jukin’
  • That Smell
  • You Got That Right
  • Saturday Night Special
  • Simple Man
  • Mississippi Kid
  • Tuesday’s Gone
  • Gimme Three Steps
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • Free Bird

For me, the highlights were Tuesday’s Gone (favorite Skynyrd song) and the names of deceased band members scrolling during Free Bird.  Even if the band has only one original member, it seems as if the spirit of the original band lives on 40 years later whenever Skynyrd’s in the house.

About Zach Clayton

Zach Clayton started Music Musings in 2013, but isn’t a stranger to music. While he may be a mild mannered accountant by day, he always has tunes going and forces his staff at work to play music trivia when they enter his office. He is a self-proclaimed lover of all music genres with over 3,500 songs in his iPod. Zach’s first concert was Eddie Money in Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym in 1979 and claims to have seen Van Halen (all three incarnations) over 25 times. There have only been one or two years since 1979 that Zach hasn’t been to a concert. He also has the uncanny knack of getting to know several folks in the music scene – both out front and behind the scenes. Zach is in the process of indoctrinating his two boys into the rock and roll way by exposing them to concerts and various music while holding them hostage in his truck screaming the mantra – “rap is crap!”

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