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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: June 26, 2014

Drive-By Truckers make a rest stop in Portland

The alt-country/Southern rock band from Georgia will play at Port City Music Hall on Tuesday night.

Written by: Bob Keyes
The Drive-By Truckers are, from left, Jay Gonzalez, Patterson Hood, Matt Patton, Mike Cooley Brad Morgan. Courtesy photo

The Drive-By Truckers are, from left, Jay Gonzalez, Patterson Hood, Matt Patton, Mike Cooley Brad Morgan. Courtesy photo

If you want to understand what makes Drive-By Truckers co-founder Patterson Hood tick, you have to understand something about his father.

David Hood was the session bass player at Muscle Shoals, the influential Alabama recording studio. He was a member of the studio band known as the Swampers (so-named by Leon Russell and popularized by Leonard Skynyrd on “Sweet Home Alabama”), and played on some of the most tuneful and timeless records in the history of American-made music.

Among David Hood’s credits: Records by Percy Sledge, Etta James and the Staple Singers.

The elder Hood, now 70, remains musically active today.

He raised young Patterson to revere music with substance and steeped in rhythm, soul and drive.

When his father was at work, young Patterson listened to his dad’s records, both those that his dad played on and those that he liked. When many kids his age were listening to the Osmonds or the Partridge Family, Patterson was soaking up records by Todd Rundgren, Neil Young and Pink Floyd.

“I grew up loving those records and still do,” Hood said by phone from his home in Athens, Georgia, during a rare tour break that allowed him time to get home and hang with his own kids. “We weren’t around each other a whole lot while I was growing up, because he was working all the time. I was not allowed to go in the studio much. It was not a place for kids. But I was influenced by his record collection.”

Patterson brings his band to Maine this week, for a show on Tuesday at Port City Music Hall. The band also plays Sunday night at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, N.H.

The Drive-By Truckers are an alt-country/Southern rock band, known for its songs about the South that are steeped in smart lyrics and that capture time and place and driven by a guitar-first musical sensibility. The band has been through many lineup changes in its 18 years, but always has been anchored by Hood and fellow guitarist, co-founder and lyricist Mike Cooley, also an Alabamian.

The band’s most recent record is “English Oceans,” released this spring. Among the band’s must-have records is “Southern Rock Opera,” a double-album released in 2001 that tells the story of a fictitious 1970s Southern rock band. It earned a four-star review Rolling Stone magazine and garnered the band Band of the Year honors in the magazine, No Depression.

Since then, the band has sustained through a series of personnel changes based on the loyalty of its fans and the admiration of music writers around the country. The Drive-By Truckers are known for writing songs that tell stories, offer commentary and rock hard. When the soundtrack of 21st century rock ‘n’ roll history is written, the Drive-By Truckers will have a chapter.

Hood long ago stopped trying to figure out why people respond to the music he and Cooley write. He’s grateful for the support and thankful for the chance to keep writing, playing and touring.

“I just think there is a sense that we sing about things that are pretty relate-able, whether it’s just the basic emotion of a story or a theme,” he said. “We just basically write whatever is on our minds at the time, and kind of hope. You never known when you make a record that people respond to and like. Or that people don’t.”

“English Oceans” has been good for the band. Fans seem to like it, and the band is playing a lot of songs from the record on this tour. “It’s not been one of those, ‘Run and get a drink until one of those oldies comes on’ kind of records. People are staying to hear the songs, which is kind of nice,” Hood said.

The band’s personnel have evolved over the years, with Hood and Cooley the constants. The current lineup also includes Brad Morgan, Jay Gonzalez, Matt Patton.

Also evolving is Hood’s relationship with Cooley. This band is 18 years old, but Hood and Cooley have been playing together for 29 years. They’ve been in four bands together during that time.

“He and I could not be any more different on so many levels. We’re just very, very different people. The fact that we are able to co-exist being so different is a huge strength of our band,” he said.

“We get along great. We still bicker occasionally, but it’s pretty good nowadays compared to the first 10 or 12 years of it when it wasn’t always so good.”


WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland
INFO: or

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