Southern rock music legends 38 Special took the stage June 28, 2012, at Duluth, Minnesota’s Clyde Iron, for a memorable night of classic tunes and a good old fashioned outdoor party. The current lineup features founding members Donnie Van Zant (vocals, guitar) and Don Barnes (vocals, guitar), along with longtime bassist Larry Junstrom, Danny Chauncey (guitars, vocals), Bobby Capps (keyboards, vocals) and Gary Moffatt (drums). Three things first:
- 38 Special in 2012 sounds better than ever
- The band members are clearly having a great time
- This music only gets better with time
- You need to see them! (that’s four, I know)
It was great to see Don Barnes and to hear his distinct voice hasn’t lost any range or emotion. Barnes is one of rock music’s most unsung (pardon the pun) singer/songwriter/guitarists. He is a master at taking basic chord shapes and creating memorable riffs on variations of 4-beat rhythms. In his own way, Barnes took what Buddy Holly blueprinted in the 1950s and made it his own three decades later. Few songwriters get more out of a power chord or double stop, while being able to create a catchy vocal melody and hook. Songs such as “If I’d Been The One,” “Caught Up In You” and “Hold On Loosely” have Barnes’ signature all over. And the guitar solo for “Hold On Loosely” is a classic, with every note in place and with purpose. Even non-guitarists can sing this solo.
Bassist Larry Junstrom isn’t a flashy player, but his sound is as big as his presence. For the most part, Junstrom stays out of the spotlight and just lays down the groove for his band mates to play over. A tasteful player for sure.
Although Chauncey and Capps aren’t original members, they’ve both been with 38 Special for 20 years or more and are clearly locked into the sound and vision of the group. Drummer Moffatt is the newest member of 38 Special – a band that at one time employed two drummers – and did an excellent job of keeping things tight and timed.
One of the coolest parts of the show was the encore, when the house light faded and fog started to smother the stage. Then it was the outline of Barnes back on stage, holding his guitar high like a beacon, getting the crowd pumped again as the band tore into “Chain Lightning” and then brought the house down with “Hold On Loosely.”
But there was more to come.
The show closed with blistering covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Travelin’ Band” and Chuck Berry‘s “Back In The USA, with the crowd singing along, “I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the U.S.A.” It was a fitting capper for a band that’s been such a fabric of popular American music for more than 30 years – and who are still delivering the goods with every show.
Special thanks to Craig Campbell for all his help. Thank you Craig!