38 Special still rockin’ into the nightWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Armed with an arsenal of rock classics, 38 Special aims to please.
“We want to make sure people hear every song they came to hear, whether it was ‘Back to Paradise’ from ‘The Revenge of the Nerds’ movie — we’ve got it all in there,” Don Barnes said of their live shows.
The group named after the popular revolver cartridge is loaded with hits — “Hold on Loosely,” “Caught Up in You,” “Back Where You Belong,” “If I’d Been the One,” “Second Chance,” “Fantasy Girl,” “Like No Other Night.”
“We ran into our producer about six months ago — Rodney Mills, who produced the records back in the ’80s — and he said, ‘Can you believe those little songs we cobbled together back then are still played on the radio every day till this day?’ We hadn’t expected that; that was quite a pleasant gift we hadn’t anticipated,” said Barnes, the lead singer and guitarist.
“It was because we were hungry for it. And some of those early songs, we were actually desperate, like ‘Rockin’ Into the Night’ was 1979 and I can hear that now and still hear the hunger in my voice. We had swallowed a lot of failure up to that point.”
Barnes and singer and guitarist Donnie Van Zant co-founded the band in Jacksonville, Fla.
“We learned a lot from [Donnie’s brother] Ronnie Van Zant, the singer from Lynyrd Skynyrd, was a big mentor for the band; he was about four years older than us,” Barnes recalled during a phone call from his Virginia home. “He said, ‘Don’t try to be a clone of somebody else because it’s already been done; try to put your own influences, your own truths, things that relate to your own lives [into your music].’
“And after he was gone tragically, we took all of his words of wisdom and tried to turn things around. We realized we were more not so much Southern rock, we were more Beatles fans, we liked a lot of that British Invasion stuff. And we put a little style together that we like to call ‘melody and muscle’ — you have the snarl of the guitars in your face kind of attitude, but a good story, a good melody over it.”
The band released “Live From Texas” last summer.
“We’ve honed ourselves all these years to be kind of a premier live act across the country, bringing the party,” Barnes said. “Everybody knows 38 Special brings 110 percent, always a good time, so we wanted to put that [disc] out to have available for the fans leaving, so they can take the party home with them.”
38 Special — Barnes, Van Zant, guitarist Danny Chauncey, bassist Larry Junstrom, drummer Gary Moffatt and keyboardist Bobby Capps — will headline the Monroe County Jam at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 25. Gates open at 6 p.m. at the Monroe County Fairgrounds, 3775 S. Custer Road, when Thunderfunk will take the stage, followed by Don’t Hold Back at 7 p.m. and the Hunter Brucks Band at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.
“We realize it’s an escape from [fans’] normal, everyday lives. They can come out and shout, holler and sing along and clap their hands, and party a little bit, have a beer or two. We’re there for that release,” Barnes said.
“You see the reactions on the faces, you see the high-fives, the clapping and singing along, sometimes tears in their eyes — a song might remind them of someone they may have lost in the past — just seeing all that makes us want to play with as much conviction and passion as [when] we first recorded them.”