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Sounds: Patterson Hood
BY ANDREW LEAHEY
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
With a name like Drive-By Truckers, it’s no surprise that Patterson Hood’s band has built its reputation on the road, firing twin barrels of Southern rock and hillbilly country to crowds across the country U.S.
Until now, that is.
Even the sturdiest vehicles need a little maintenance once in a while, and the Truckers found themselves in a state of exhaustion earlier this year, after limping their way through the final weeks of a long spring tour. They’d been on the road for 14 straight years, and their tires had worn down to the rims. It was time for a break.
“I love DBT with all my heart,” Hood explained last week, “but we did need a break and I am enjoying it very much. Not even so much a break from the people in DBT but from the show and those songs and the whole circus that we built.”
Hood couldn’t seem to take a break from music, though. Faced with his biggest chunk of vacation time in years, he rolled up his sleeves and got back to work, calling upon several of his friends—including a few Truckers—to help him record a solo album. His father, a legendary session musician who co-founded Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in the late ’60s, played bass on three songs, a fitting addition to an album focused on family and the cycle of life.
“Most of it was written last spring in a really quick burst of writing,” said Hood, who began working on the tunes during a topsy–turvy period in his home life. Two family members were dying, which brought back a swirl of memories from his childhood.
Meanwhile his two sons were growing up fast, and Hood—who had spent the majority of their infancy on the road—was eager to make up for lost time.
The resulting album, “Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance,” won’t be released until September, and Hood plans to spend the intervening months with his family.
He’ll continue touring, too, playing a handful of gigs with his solo band, the Downtown Rumblers, and bringing his kids along for the ride. Once a Trucker, always a Trucker.
Don’t expect the Downtown Rumblers to sound like a revised version of Hood’s other band, though.
“DBT, by its very nature, is big,” he pointed out. “Even when we’re playing quiet, it’s a big sound. I’m focusing right now on playing a quieter show in smaller, more intimate places.”
For his upcoming shows in Virginia—including a Friday gig in Richmond and a Sunday performance at the Birchmere, not to mention two Saturday shows in nearby Annapolis—Hood will leave the Downtown Rumblers at home and take the stage alone.
“I’ve been doing that a lot lately,” he said. “Since I’m alone, I’ll be pulling out a bunch of songs from my whole catalog that I feel like exploring in this very stripped-down form. Hopefully, a good bit of story-telling, also.”
Things will be different this fall, after “Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance” hits stores and Hood’s children go back to school. At that point, he plans to load up the van and tour all over the country, playing his new songs to a new audience each night.
“It will be my first extensive van tour in nine years,” he explained, sounding like a starry-eyed 20-something all over again. “I’m planning on having a big adventure.”
What: Patterson Hood
Where: Virginia Room of the John Marshall, 101 N. Fifth St., Richmond
When: Friday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door
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