The Drive-By Truckers return to Maine next weekend with a date at The State Theatre in Portland on Saturday, March 9th. The band is regularly cited by rock critics and music fanatics alike as one of the strongest, most consistent performers in music over the last decade. Maine’s own Stephen King has praised the band and fans of the band are thrilled to see the band return to Maine for the second time in less than a year. I myself am very excited as their show at The State sold out last year and I was not able to attend.
Of course the next question from one unexposed to the music of the band is ” If they are playing Portland, Maine twice in a year how big can they be?” While it is a fair question the best response is a list of what the band is not. They are not a pop band, their songs do not all have a chorus, and they most definitely do not rap. I discovered the Drive-By’s early last year and as I made my way through their impressive back catalog I became more and more impressed. I became, for my friends and family, that annoying person who has discovered one of life’s truths and wants to share it with everyone he knows.
The band is led by singer Patterson Hood, whose own solo release last year was itself exemplary. They identify as Southern. With what some might call an unhealthy obsession with Alabama culture, most particularly with Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Wallace, the bands songs tell tales of too much alcohol, bad relationships, and odd characters including policeman, go-go dancers, bubba’s, weird uncles, up to country legend George Jones.
How does a band develop a cult following so huge with albums that have been, while successful, not million selling? By touring. Over the last decade the band has toured almost constantly and fans never leave disappointed. This is a band that can play a three night set in Boston, New York, or Atlanta and play few to no ( there are a few favorites their fans insist on ) songs more than once. Consistently called the best touring band in rock and roll the fact that tickets are still available for the show next week is an amazing opportunity for folks to get on the bandwagon.
If anyone would like to know what the band is about they should go on Spotify and pull up the band’s recordings. A good place to start is with the double album Southern Rock Opera, an album that the band self financed and released on their own label in 2001. With great reviews, including a four star review in Rolling Stone, the album was picked up and re-released in 2002 by major label Mercury records and as the band states in their song Let There Be Rock ” the rest is history.”
The opportunity to see a band this good in a venue like The State Theatre does not come often. Run don’t walk to your computer or phone and get tickets while you can. You will not be sorry .