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There's something special about a Lynyrd Skynyrd show
BY JESSE SCOTT
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
As a resident of a Southern town with plenty of karaoke bars, you should be very familiar with Lynyrd Skynyrd by now.
"Sweet Home Alabama"? "Free Bird"?
You know, the classics--the songs you have shamelessly belted out in your shower at some point in your life. We've all done it.
The legendary Southern rock band, now in its 48th year of existence, will play Celebrate Virginia Live on Saturday, May 5. This is the second year in a row the band will play the Job.com Pavilion and, by all indications, fans can expect a performance that is every bit as stellar as last year's.
"When you come to a Skynyrd show, you're a part of a larger community," said Johnny Van Zant, lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd. "Our shows these days are a lot like tailgating. You have a good time before the show, plus you have a good time during the show. It's a time where we can all forget all of our troubles."
Life on the road hasn't always been a sweet home for the Jacksonville-based band. Over the course of nearly half a century, Lynyrd Skynyrd has seen its share of heartache: a plane crash that killed three original members (including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, Johnny's brother), a multiyear hiatus and the exit of band mates over the decades.
Despite the well-chronicled tragedies of the band's career, the Lynyrd Skynyrd of today is as poised and passionate as ever.
"This band has been through hard times, has lost members, yet the music still keeps on going," said Van Zant, now in his 25th year as the lead vocalist of the band. "The thing that really amazes me is the way that fans come and go over the years. We've got older fans and younger fans, and people that pass our music down through the generations."
There is something undeniably special about the mixture of Lynyrd Skynyrd and a humid summer evening. The band's trademark blend of rugged yet moving Southern rock meshes so well with a backdrop of trees, cold beer and Southern charm.
Fans hitting the Celebrate Virginia Live show can, of course, count on "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird," among other hits from the band's 13 studio albums.
"I don't know if there's a show where we haven't played those two," laughed Van Zant.
After hitting a number of amphitheaters and outdoor venues in May, Lynyrd Skynyrd will trek across Europe in June. You can't help but wonder how the British, Spanish and Greek communities absorb a Skynyrd show.
According to Van Zant, the European fans not only get Skynyrd's vibe--their last album had higher sales in Europe than the U.S.--but they like to get down just like we Southerners do.
"If you're a Skynyrd fan, you're a Skynyrd fan," said Van Zant. "It doesn't matter if you're Dutch, German, Swedish, French, Spanish or American, Skynyrd fans bring pretty much the same energy everywhere."
Jesse Scott plans to translate this article into Dutch, German, Swedish, French and Spanish. And maybe American.