In 1974, Jacksonville, Florida was the hometown to the young men who would rise to fame as .38 Special. The formation of the band is a story out of a road-to-riches movie, as founding members and neighborhood friends Don Barnes and Donnie Van Zant, brother to Lynyrd Skynrd’s Ronnie Van Zant, were eager and determined to form a band that played hearty Southern Rock. Van Zant kept the band recruitment close to home when he invited former Drummer Steve Brookins, Guitarist Jeff Carlisi, and Drummer Jack Grondin, also neighborhood friends, to join the band. With a goal for success and endless touring, hard work combined with a dream paid off tremendously for .38 Special when they were signed to A&M Records in 1977. Since the release of their first self-titled album, the band has taken the world by storm with many catchy hooks throughout the years that have gained them a huge following. Famously known for their power hit singles “Wild-Eyed Southern Boys”, “Hold On Loosely”, “Caught Up In You”, and “What If I’d Been The One,” fans continue to flock to stage fronts for the .38 Special Southern Hard Rock experience.
Fast forward forty years later, The Paramount in Huntington, New York excitedly welcomed the iconic ’80s rockers .38 Special on Saturday, August 29 with support from local acts The Bourbon Stills Band and Jake Incao. As the season comes to a close, .38 Special were one of the last bands to close out another eventful Summer at The Paramount. Marking their second visit to The Paramount in a little over a year, the band has been touring non-stop since the beginning of the 2015. No stranger to Long Island area, the band’s live performances always seem to return their fan base here back to their youthful days, with the consistent vigor and tenacity they have had since the beginning of their successful music and touring careers.
Right before .38 Special hit the stage, fans could be heard chatting over each other and gleefully reminiscing about past .38 Special concerts they had been to, and when they were first taken by the .38 Special phenomenon in the ’80s. Climbing up the stairs and onto the stage, .38 Special appeared in front of an exuberant crowd that thunderously cheered and whistled. Co-founding member and lead singer Don Barnes embraced the excitement of fans, waving to the audience as if it were his first time performing. The beginning of the set included the upbeat 1983 drum-hitting single “Back Where You Belong,” where the pink and orange stage lights radiated over the stage and soared above a clapping audience. Raising the excitement level even more, Barnes invited fans to sing the chorus of “Back Where You Belong.” The band pulled back the music for a swift two seconds to hear the audience sing the catchy song line and title, then resumed playing. Meanwhile, Guitarist Danny Chauncey and Bassist Barry Dunaway performed side by side while sharing the microphone for back up vocals, rounding out the solid .38 Special sound.
Watching them perform on stage, it was no surprise to see that Rock music has kept the .38 Special band members young and full of spirit through their four decades of creating and touring. Adding to the mood, The Paramount turned the lights down to midnight blue with the spotlight on Keyboardist Bobby Capp who also led vocals on 1988 Rock & Roll Strategy track, “Second Chance,” a harmonious and heartfelt ballad which became a hit in 1989. Chauncey performed jazzy guitar solos while singing back-up vocals during the song as couples in the crowd held each other close during the song, while others all the way up front stood mesmerized by one of their all time favorite Classic Rock band. From there, .38 Special snapped the mood back to their up tempo Southern/Hard Rock style with fans singing to each and every hit like “You Keep Me Runnin’ Away” word for word.
During a brief intermission, howling and whistling erupted as Barnes thanked Long Island for coming out to jam with them. Barnes also joked about the cheering competition between The Paramount’s dual bar set up. As mentioned earlier, the band had made an appearance at The Paramount in January 2014 and were happy to be back judging by the comfort they displayed on stage. To introduce 1981’s “Fantasy Girl,” Barnes dedicated the song to all the gentleman and their fantasy girls with them in the crowd. Then, mid- song, Capp left the keyboard platform to stand at the front of the stage to clap his hands together along with fans.
With fans full of energy throughout the concert, this was an evening of excellent vibes where everyone felt a camaraderie through .38 Special’s memorable performance of “What If I’d Been The One.” Sure to touch all areas of their list songs, “Teacher, Teacher” was also one of the popular songs performed that night, which also ascended on the Billboard charts for appearing in the 1984 movie Teachers. Fan euphoria reached its peak as the band closed out the last half hour of the show with the .38 Special household songs like “Hold On Loosely” and “Caught Up In You.” At this point, not one person in the crowd stood idle or silent as Barnes, as well as Chauncey, traded off soulful guitar riffs with broad smiles, while Drummer Gary Moffatt chimed loud and heavy on the cymbals for a grand finale.
It was an exciting evening for the .38 Special fans who made sure to arrive early to get into the show. From the very moment concertgoers stepped into the venue, up until the long awaited closing song, everyone had a sensational and fun-filled evening of memorable hit singles. For those who missed the band, .38 Special will continue touring until the end of year, where they will conclude at the Ralston Arena in Omaha, Nebraska. So, get out there and see these wild-eyed Southern boys.