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Artimus Pyle, Red Wind Casino, Yelm, WA 9/4/06

by: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Artimus Pyle with Whiskey Creek
Red Wind Casino, Yelm, Washington
September 4, 2006

Legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer, Artimus Pyle, came to the Nisqually Tribe’s Red Wind Casino on Sunday night of Labor Day Weekend putting on an inspired, high-energy two-hour show of genuine Ronnie Van Zant era Lynyrd Skynyrd music. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame drummer was backed by America’s number one Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, Whiskey Creek who have been performing their tribute for over twenty-four years and it showed in spades on Sunday night. The band’s scorching performance consisted primarily of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s multi-platinum One More from the Road album, augmented with several other classics including That Smell, I Know a Little, and What’s Your Name.

The show started with an over-capacity crowd leaping to their feet as Artimus and Whiskey Creek drummer Randy Ramos walked on stage. Opening with a dueling drum solo, they launched the band into Gimme Three Steps and Call Me the Breeze. The thunder of two drummers playing their drum parts and fills in complete unison made it clear that Randy Ramos was driving with the only man that might ever teach him more about the drumming he’d studied and played for the last thirty years. Artie proved his drumming is at the heart of all those Skynyrd classics and he left his drum set twice to introduce songs and share the history of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The crowd burst into applause when he said. “I am here today because of one man and one man only. That man is Ronnie Van Zant”. Artimus made somber dedications to his former band members and friends who had died or had been seriously injured in the plane crash on October 20, 1977. Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines and Dean Kilpatrick tragically perished as a result.

“The only reason we were finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was because of people like you”, Artimus said to a boisterous crowd. He then thanked all their fans everywhere for being so faithful over the last thirty plus years, the radio stations that continue to play their music, and Whiskey Creek for keeping the music alive. Subsequently, he dedicated That Smell as a warning to stay off drugs. Whiskey Creek’s lead singer, Terry Allen, did a superb job of double drumming with Randy when Artimus came out front to sing Sweet Home Alabama, thus closing the show. The response was an electrical standing ovation from fans ranging from seven to seventy years old. When the audience demanded an encore, Artimus came out and spoke reverently about the plane crash and the loss of his band member friends Allen Collins and Leon Wilkeson who had died since then. He dedicated Freebird to “my fallen friends, all our troops fighting in Iraq, the Native Americans that are here tonight, all Americans everywhere and anyone who wishes a special friend that they miss was with them this night.” It was an emotion-filled moment for everyone. Accompanied by Jeff Johnston on lead guitar, lead guitarist Johnny Cat Passarelli blistered the audience firing off Allen Collins’s solo on Freebird note-for-note with enough force and conviction to fix a permanent smile of approval on the face of Artimus Pyle. With the aid of Joe Turnbull on keyboards and Bill Majkut on bass, Whiskey Creek kept the audience on their feet the entire time. The outdoor event ended at 9:00 PM with hundreds of fans lining up to get autographs and have their pictures taken with Ronnie Van Zant’s drummer.

“I’ve never before seen any artist like Artimus Pyle, said lead singer Terry Allen. “He would spend as much as ten minutes with each individual asking them questions about themselves. He truly wanted to know each and every fan who had been touched by the music of Ronnie Van Zant”. “There was an elderly fella, probably 70 years old outside the security line,” says Allen, “As I walked by I saw he was shaking. With his head down he shyly asked me: “Could I see Artimus…, please”? What could I say? With the aid of his daughter we brought him backstage and I put him near the front of the line. It still took nearly a half an hour for his turn and then all he could vocally eke out was “I really like your gloves”. Artimus asked him his name then took the gloves off his own hands, signed them and gave them to this man whom he had never met. There are no words that could convey the expression on that man’s face. Everyone in the tent had to take a minute and wipe their eyes after that one… Artimus included. He stayed until 1:00 AM to meet and talk to each and every fan. Truly a class act and the biggest heart I’ve ever seen!”

- Derek Peace

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