Drivin' N' Cryin'

By William Brents

Why aren't there more bands like Drivin' N' Cryin'? That's a question I put to myself and several friends after we witnessed the band's highly combustible July 18 show at the Phoenix Hill Tavern.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I'd like to see an army of Drivin' N' Cryin' wannabe bands crop up around the region, although I'd rather experience that than, let's say, a plethora of Van Halen bands born all over again.

I'm not all that familiar with Drivin' N' Cryin's background, but by listening and observing I got the impression that this band has paid its share of dues and expressed an authentic, old-fashioned rock 'n' roll attitude that every rock band wants, but few truly have.

While touring in support of their potent Fly Me Courageous LP, they've been fortunate enough to find a home on MTV as well as our hometown rock station, WQMF. That explained the fervent sold-out crowd which gathered for this seemingly unlimited power-chord feast.

Vocalist, guitarist and leader Kevn Kinney is convincing both as a hard rocker and as a soothing folk artist. Joining Kinney was guitarist Buren Fowler, bassist Tim Nielson and drummer Jeff Sullivan.

During the first hour Drivin' N' Cryin' were relentless, playing loud, crunching guitar rock.

The two songs that really fired up the crowd were, of course, "Fly Me Courageous" and "Build a Fire," but those songs paled by comparison to the opening number "Rush Hour," an AC/DC-ish headbanger. "The Innocent," "Chain Reaction" and "Look What You've Done to Your Brother," are well-written, energizing songs that were stunningly executed.

But they're much more than just a high velocity band. They proved that on "For You," a poignant mid-tempo tune. The latter portion of the show had Kinney performing a trio of solo acoustic songs that I found enjoyable, but the audience seemed uninterested and, like a room full of Black Sabbath addicts, they craved yet for more bombastic material.

So what do you think Drivin' N' Cryin' did? You guessed it, Kinney put away his beautiful acoustic guitar and retrieved his red rockin' axe for several more rave-ups, including a brilliant cover of The Seeds' 1967 hit "Pushin' too Hard."

Second guitarist Fowler never overextended himself during his short, refreshing sonic solos, and the rhythm section of Nielson and Sullivan definitely laid some thunder down.

I've been to better shows, but I can't recall very many that offered more great hook-laden songs than this Atlanta, Ga., quartet did.