May 12, 2015 The Outlaws & Blackhawk Rockin’ Country The Paramount Huntington, NY 3-26-15
Going to a venue for a performance that includes both the Outlaws and Blackhawk just goes to show that a bit of shuffling can shake things up musically for any band. The Outlaws have been creating their own brand of Southern fried Rock for over forty years, but even with huge breaks from recording and a constantly updating member list, they have remained a popular band with their finger on the pulse of Southern Rock sensibilities. With almost all members contributing to vocals, the Florida Guitar Army now consists of Henry Paul, Steve Grisham, and Chris Anderson on guitars, Monte Yoho on drums, Randy Threet on bass, and Dave Robbins on keyboards.
Considered pioneers in Southern Rock, these Nashville natives have inspired and been inspired by some of the most famous bands in the genre, including Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band, and long-time stage mates Molly Hatchet. Their most recent album, It’s About Pride, was released back in September of 2012 through Sony-RED Distribution and was the band’s first album in around twelve years. A combination of new members and a renewed vigor behind co-founders Paul and Yoho has gone into creating an album that encompasses the emotion behind the band’s history. Expressing the pride the members all have had in their music since the beginning, this album reminds fans of where the Outlaws began, despite the great losses suffered over the past five decades. On Thursday, March 26th, the Outlaws stopped at The Paramount in Huntington, NY during their Rockin’ Country Tour and brought along Blackhawk, a band made up of members of the Florida Guitar Army but who play with a more countrified sound. Celebrating the fortieth anniversary of The Outlaws this team up with Blackhawk was one fans have been waiting for and the excitement at The Paramount was palpable.
Opening the night was Blackhawk. Formed in 1992, beginning with Outlaw members Henry Paul on guitar/mandolin/vocals, Dave Robbins on vocals/keys, and Van Stephenson on guitar/backing vocals. Tragically losing Stephenson to a battle with cancer in 2001, the band continues on in his memory with Paul and Robbins as the backbone of Blackhawk along with touring band Threet on bass,Yoho on drums, and Anderson on guitar. Considered one of the ’90s most successful Country Rock acts, The Paramount fans were ready to enjoy a evening of their favorite tunes.
The band kicked into their beautiful Country chords as soon as their feet hit the stage. While the music itself was very strong, it was their top notch vocal harmonies that stole the hearts of the crowd around them. In between fan favorites “Every Once In Awhile,” “Love Like This,” and “Almost A Memory Now,” Henry talked up the crowd about the reason the band chose the Country route for Blackhawk, expressing their love for the genre and the desire everyone has to be a cowboy when they grow up. Humble and gracious, he also waxed nostalgia about the band’s first time playing in Long Island at the Commack Roller Rink, getting a huge response from the crowd. Between “Down From the Mountain” and “Big Guitar,” the vocalist was bittersweet, reminding the crowd that night was Yoho’s sixty-third birthday, but also bringing up original member Van Stephenson, who had passed away in 2001 at the age of forty-seven from complications from melanoma. The band played Stephenson’s song “Ships of Heaven” in remembrance of him. Check out their latest album, Greatest Hits & More, which was released on October 28, 2014 through Loud & Proud Records.
Henry, Robbins and Threet returned to the stage with Steve Grisham, Chris Anderson, and Monte Yoho for the Outlaws set. With dual guitarists Anderson and Grisham given precedence, the band started out with one of their most popular hits, “There Goes Another Love Song,” before Paul thanked the Long Island crowd for coming out. The Florida Guitar Army let the music flow, playing hits “Green Grass and High Tides,” “Hidin’ Out in Tennessee,” “Trail of Tears,” “Knoxville Girl,” and the Paul Henry Band cover “Grey Ghost,” a song dedicated to the late Lynyrd Skynyrd member Ronnie Van Zant. The small but enthusiastic crowd kicked up their heels and danced the evening away. Anderson played a fantastic set, channeling The Allman Brothers’ Dickey Betts for the entire night. The biggest response of the night came during the band’s encore. “Riders in the Sky” evoked a passion and applause big enough to blow the roof off of the Paramount, making up for their small numbers with huge dedication. Although It’s About Pride is only the band’s second album in over twenty years, the passion is still alive in these men to keep creating music, no matter what the world throws at them.
Amidst rumors of a 2015 album, the Outlaws and Blackhawk are still touring the countryside with shows currently booked until late August where they are set to play the McLeod County Fair in Hutchinson, Minnesota. Alone, the Outlaws are set to continue to play right through the year and into 2016. With that said, their stop at The Paramount was a welcomed one by Long Islanders with a pure love for some of the best Country Rock out there. Make sure to grab a ticket if these Southern fried Country Rockers come to a town near by.