During the early 1990’s indy-rock scene you would have been hard pressed to miss Drivin’ N Cryin’. A Southeast band from Atlanta who have never been able to fit into a perfect category or music genre description, but have always had a place in my record collection and heart. Wednesday, February 15th lead vocalist Kevin Kinney and the guys rocked Headliners Music Hall with special guest The Tunesmiths.
The Tunesmiths were a soulful yet awkward opening act. The lead singer appeared to be the love-child of Angus Young and Joe Cocker yet they entertained and engaged the sparse crowd as an appetizer to the main course.
Drivin’ N Cryin’ took the intimately lit stage with no introduction or flash. All four members casually sauntered to their instruments and let their music speak for them. The opening song from their 2009 album The Great American Bubble Factory was a warm up to their critically acclaimed Fly Me Courageous from the hard-rocking album of the same name. The song (Fly Me Courageous) was a big hit for the band in the early nineties fueled by rotation on MTV and the story that Navy pilots listened to the hit as they bombed Baghdad during Operation Desert Storm.
Led by frontman Kinney, whose voice sounded like a whispered scream, Drivin’ N Cryin’ bounced from album to album moving from acoustic songs and serious rocking territory and back again with effortless ease to include playing a twenty-three second song entitled I Eat Bologna twice because it was such short fun.
It was clear that Drivin’ N Cryin’ were not only playing for the crowd, but playing for themselves. Almost each song included a mini jam-session where the dueling guitars seemed to be having a conversation all to themselves. Alternatively when a member of the crowd shouted a request for the fan favorite Straight To Hell during a quiet moment of a song about struggling to find a country radio station, the band seamlessly faded the music out (ala a country song on the radio) rolling into the acoustic twang of the hit to include a sing along that seemed to last for ten minutes.
After touring for twenty-five years with the likes of REM and enduing a throat surgery that would sideline the original sound of most bands, Drivin’ N Cryin’ appears to have plenty of gas in their vintage tank. The small crowd at Headliners Music Hall left musically satisfied and I was reminded of one of the earliest articles written about Drivin’ N Cryin’ that appears on their website from back in the eighties, “We are a band that’s like your music collection.” A true statement as they are not only like my music collection, they will forever be included.