MusicScene: Blackberry Smoke, Bad Suns, Keller Williams

Blackberry Smoke

“People that punch a clock to write a song, that’s where horrible songs come from, in my opinion,” says Charlie Starr, singer and lead songwriter for the rising revivalists of Southern rock, Blackberry Smoke. “Of course, my songs might be horrible, too.”

Starr made the comment a few months ago to reporters at Google and YouTube’s London headquarters, but now with a No. 1 album and 23,000-plus copies sold in two months, it’s doubtful many would agree with the latter.

The candor from Starr, however, offers a glimpse into the sincerity fans have long admired about Blackberry Smoke.

The quintet formed 15 years ago after Starr met brothers Brit and Richard Turner within the Atlanta music scene, carefully selecting guitarist/singer Paul Jackson shortly thereafter and later pianist Brandon Still to form the band’s current lineup.

Blackberry Smoke released its first two albums over five years, both of which met with little notice from critics and audiences. But a tour schedule of 250 shows a year and opening stints with Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, George Jones, Zac Brown Band, Eric Church and others helped the band showcase its musicianship and build a loyal following that carried the band through the slender profit margins of its early years.

The group released “Whippoorwill” in 2012, which became the first record to chart for the band, rising to No. 8 on the country charts and No. 40 on the Top 200.

That album’s follow-up, “Holding All the Roses,” found its way into the production hands of Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Bruce Springsteen) and shot to No. 1 on the country charts within the first few weeks of release and peaked at No. 29 on the Top 200. Critics largely agreed with Starr that the album was the band’s strongest to date, prompting the Washington Post to speculate that the quintet is “a band that can reclaim Southern rock for the South.”

Blackberry Smoke will perform Thursday at the Music Farm, 32 Ann St., with The Temperance Movement and Ben Miller Band. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 the day of the show and are available at the door or online at Doors open at 8 p.m.; show starts at 9 p.m.

Only a few years into its career, Southern California alt-rock quartet Bad Suns has already managed an acclaimed debut and a sold-out headlining tour, despite the band being a first for its members.

Formed in the wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood of Woodland Hills, the group assembled near the end of 2012 from friends who were just out of high school, only to land with producer Eric Palmquist (The Mars Volta, Wavves, Mr Little Jeans) a year later for its debut EP, “Transpose.”

The EP raised enough eyebrows within the recovering indie rock industry to pave the way for a deal with Vagrant Records, which funded work on a follow-up that would largely finish what “Transpose” had begun.

Though young and relatively inexperienced, Bad Suns descends from a loose lineage of punk and new wave influences from the late ’70s and early ’80s, offering an updated, pop-heavy take on one of the most groundbreaking eras in rock history.

The band’s full-length debut, “Language & Perspective,” was released in December and has since been labeled one of the “23 best albums of 2014” by the Huffington Post. To capitalize on the buzz, Bad Suns has toured nearly nonstop since 2013, performing at Coachella, Firefly Music Festival and a string of dates with Lupe Fiasco, The 1975, The Vaccines and others.

Bad Suns will perform Saturday at the Music Farm, 32 Ann St., with Kiev. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 the day of the show and are available at the door or online at Doors open at 8 p.m.; show starts at 9 p.m.

Anyone who has ever heard Keller Williams play knows that words can do little to describe his one-man orchestra. It’s more of something you have to see for yourself. Whether you want to call him a guitar genius, a musical poltergeist or just a well-practiced worker of his trade, the one constant in any description of Williams is that he is unlike any other artist.

Even though his baby face and shaggy, college-bro hair might suggest otherwise, Williams is actually a veteran of the jam and bluegrass circuit, having been an active musician within it for more than 20 years. The self-taught guitarist began his career in the late ’80s around his native Fredericksburg, Va. He soon joined the likes of The String Cheese Incident, Larry Keel, Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman of Grateful Dead’s RatDog and other revolutionizing jam and bluegrass acts of the early ’90s on the road, a place he has more or less remained ever since.

Despite never having any major commercial breakthrough, Williams has released nearly 20 albums, not including his work with side projects and other artists, and remains one of the biggest draws of the jam band circuit.

Keller Williams will perform Thursday and Friday nights at The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway. Tickets for each show are $25; $44 for a two-night pass. Tickets are available at the door or online at Doors open at 8 p.m. both nights; show starts at 9 p.m.