By Mike McKenney, Rock At Night New England
Venue: Greenwich Odeum, East Greenwich, Rhode Island-June 28, 2019
Lynyrd Skynyrd defined the southern rock genre of the 70’s and “Wild Man”, Artimus Pyle was their drummer from 1974 to 1977. Pyle’s powerful double bass drumming style is credited with helping to create that instantly recognizable sound they are so famous for. Artimus is also a survivor of that fateful plane crash in 1977 that took the lives of founder Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, his sister Cassie Gaines, who was one of the background vocalists, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, and the two pilots. Pyle suffered torn chest cartilage, but he and two other survivors managed to stumble several hundred yards through a creek and a freshly plowed field to a farmhouse to get help. The appearance of Pyle and his companions alarmed the farmer, Johnny Mote, who fired a warning shot over Pyle’s head, according to Pyle. The misunderstanding was quickly cleared up after Pyle shouted that there had been a plane crash, and the farmer helped him inside his house.
Artimus started APB in 1981 after recovering from the plane crash. The band took a hiatus in 1987 and Pyle rejoined Lynyrd Skynyrd until 1991. Back from hiatus, the Artimus Pyle Band has been touring endlessly, playing southern rock staples to enduring fans everywhere. The Artimus Pyle Band (APB) is well known for faithful playing note for note Skynyrd tunes exactly as they were recorded, and they were dead on Friday night at the Odeum. Every song APB plays is a favorite and they play them with perfect precision.
The guitar work of Scott Raines, and Jerry Lyda, was impeccable all evening while Dave Fowler’s bottom notes bass kept everyone tight.
Vocalist Brad Durden smartly doesn’t try to imitate original frontman Ronnie Van Zant, preferring instead to rely on blending in his own style and it works perfectly.
The Needle and the Spoon”, “That Smell” and “Saturday Night Special” had the small but boisterous crowd singing along early on. “Simple Man”, ”Gimme Three Steps”, and a poignant acoustical version of “Tuesday’s Gone” brought the house to their feet. During the band introductions, the crowd roared and chanted “Artie”, “Artie” when Artimus’ turn came around, in recognition of the 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and the only drummer that still plays all those great Lynryd Skynyrd songs they way he played them with the Lynyrd Skynyrd Band.
Refreshingly, the mature crowd never called out “Freebird” once during the night, seems they knew it would be saved for last and APB did not disappoint. For over 10 minutes Skynyrd’s signature power ballad worked the crowd up into a frenzy. Starting with the most identifiable wailing guitar intro, and drums played magnificently by Pyle, “Freebird” has become the anthem of southern rock, and ranks 3rd in Guitar World’s Top 100 Guitar Solos.
In all it was a great night of non stop, good for the soul, southern rock, played by the last of the greats. Artimus Pyle is one of the last links to a time when the legends ruled the music, and all these years later, the “Wild Man” still does them proud!
The Needle and the Spoon
Saturday Night Special
Workin’ for MCA
On the Hunt
Gimme Three Steps
Call Me the Breeze
Tuesday’s Gone (Acoustic)
Sweet Home Alabama
You Got That Right
The Ballad of Curtis Loew