Words and Photos: DJ
In many respects, the Southern rock band Drive-by Truckers embodies Alabama. Raised in Muscle Shoals, co-founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have deep connections to the state and the surrounding area. Although the Truckers began their journey in 1996, which feels like eons ago, the band has stayed true to its roots. Fans, in turn, have reciprocated by steadfastly supporting their work over the years. This performance at the Mars Music Hall in Huntsville has a distinct hometown feel for a compelling reason.
Known for their sincere songwriting, rigorous touring, and a unique musical blend of southern rock, country, R&B, punk, and soul, the band has garnered a dedicated global following. Drive-by Truckers’ songs often tell stories of life and hardship, expressing empathy and solidarity with the struggles of the poor and marginalized. At the core of their lyrical approach lies the personal experience of being Southerners, embracing both the positive and negative aspects of the region.
While their lyrical themes may be direct and weighty, the musicianship is exceptional. Cooley and Hood showcase a distinctive guitar style that frequently takes center stage in their most beloved tunes.
Renowned for their relentless touring, the band is widely regarded as one of the best live rock acts today. The Huntsville show not only showcased their musical prowess but also revealed numerous special connections, making it a memorable Friday night.
Early in the set, the audience was treated to the crowd favorite “Lookout Mountain,” dominated by powerful guitar riffs—a delightful surprise for long-time fans. The same holds true for “Puttin’ People On The Moon,” offering listeners hard-hitting, visceral lyrics that resonate deeply with the region. It’s one of those songs that perfectly encapsulates the essence of the Truckers. The hits kept coming with “Mercy Buckets,” infusing a cool Southern rock groove reminiscent of Tom Petty—a captivating insight into the evening.
One of my personal favorites from the Truckers is the exceptional “Sink Hole,” a song that truly comes alive in a live setting, with its infectious Johnny Cash groove.
The Truckers continued to play for nearly two hours, consistently delivering a fantastic live show for a reason. The tight-knit musicianship showcased that night was impeccable and remarkable. The positive vibes were palpable, reflecting the close connection between the band and the local crowd. It was an evening filled with camaraderie, musical skill, personal reflection, and sheer enjoyment.