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Guest Blog by Molly Hatchet's John Galvin: The Taste of Southern Rock


by John Galvin of Molly Hatchet

I was first introduced to Southern rock via the Allman Brothers Band back in the early '70's. The jams were long and great, and there was something to be said for the twin guitars and double drummers and percussion. It was a blend that fit perfectly into that era.

As I grew up, I was given daily doses of pop and easy listening music, via my mother's radio, and the hymns we sang in church were a regular staple of music around our house. When I began playing piano, I was taught the classics, Brahms, Mozart, Debussy, and Clemente. But the cool thing about my teacher was that he had a jazz band, and he showed me some of that stuff too.

Later, I moved to Michigan to play country music with a local artist. Country was new to me then, and after playing the other types of music I mentioned, I found it quite simple...that is until later, but we'll get to that in a bit. It seemed that the most challenging thing about it was the changing pattern of the same three chords from song to song! Then, country was more about the lyrics than the music, as many country songs seemed to have the same chords and melody line. But it grew on me. You wouldn't think Detroit would be a big country mecca, but in the 70's it was everywhere, because a lot of southern people moved here to work in the factories.

It was the heyday for music in Detroit. Rock bands were bountiful and clubs to see them in were everywhere. While I played country in the bars, my love of rock and roll grew in dramatic proportions. I had already been a big rock fan growing up in Ohio, and attended the various outdoor festivals that sprouted up every summer. I would go see Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Foghat, Alice Cooper, Three Dog Night, and countless others in their early inceptions. This was before security, high ticket prices, $15.00 parking, and bands being unapproachable.

This was a $5.00 concert, and you parked in a field or up and down the road, and you pretty much had the freedom to do as you pleased. The good old days! So, as I played this country music, I needed something to kick it into gear a little. Then I "discovered" Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Charlie Daniels Band. It was all I needed to add some punch to the music. It went over in a big way. This was when those bands were still fairly young and a little more rootsy. It was all these musical styles combined into one form. Country, rock, blues, gospel. A sure-fire recipe to get you moving!

The funny thing is, all these bands are very different sounding, yet they all share that common denominater. You can hear a band, and you just know its southern rock, by the execution and delivery. Or maybe its the instrumentation or the subject matter. One thing's for sure, you can sure tell the difference between a rock song, and a southern rock song.

Today, country seems to have turned up a notch, allowing musicians to stretch out more and actually play. It has matured and even gotten more difficult. The line between country and southern rock has become blurred. The 70's and 80's may be gone, but southern rock is here to stay. Most of the bands are still around, and some you may be able to catch at a local festival or fair, just like it was 20 years ago. New artists are carrying the torch, and hopefully we'll hear a lot more from them also, but until then, the taste of classic southern rock has never been sweeter!

Buffalo and Galvin out in Vegas with Hatchet a few years back.



Henry Paul of The Outlaws

Charlie Daniels

Dick Cooper

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