There's an old rock and roll legend that before the band's fatal plane crash in 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd had plans to record with "rival" Neil Young. We do know that wily Canadian songwriter had offered the bunch of Jacksonville rowdies a pair of his tunes to record on the album that would've followed Skynyrd's swan song Street Survivors, but fate intervened and the band never got the chance to record the songs. In the world of rock and roll, truth and fiction often get tangled up and promptly ignored in favor of a good yarn, but it's fun to wonder "what if" Young's gnarly tunes had the full-on Southern Rock guitar bombast of Skynyrd's triple attack.
But of course, if you've seen Southern Bitch, you wouldn't have to wonder what such a pairing would sound like. You'd know. The Athens quartet blends Crazy Horse crunch with searing guitar leads and earthy lyrics that, like Ronnie Van Zant's best lines, are country as cornbread without having to wave flags or fight lost causes. Frontman Adam Musick is a triple threat in one shaggy package: a talented lyricist, a flexible guitarist, and an expressive singer. His powerful yet economical guitar leads mesh perfectly with wife Wendy Musick, who also provides the requisite "badass rocker" strut for the band. Muscle Shoals, Alabama native Chuck Bradburn shows his roots with bass lines that delve deep into classic rock and Southern R&B, and drummer Chris Ellenberg thumps out powerhouse beats and solid timing. Between the two, the Musicks have plenty of fire in the engine room, and when Southern Bitch is rolling, there's a sound powerful enough to knock your hat in the creek.
Like a choice few other bands today - Slobberbone, The Bottle Rockets and The Drive By Truckers - Southern Bitch's music is instantly familiar yet refreshingly new. Shades of Southern and folk rock mix in with punk and indie sounds, while Adam's lyric's revel in both his mountain upbringing and the changing times he, like the rest of us, finds the world going through. The band's debut Thunderbolt is a powerful statement from a young band; the title is apt, as the music is loud, proud and thunderous.
Southern Bitch plays straightforward, no bullshit rock and roll with a Southern twist. Call it "new Southern Rock" or call it what Adam calls it, "gritty mountain rock." Either way, it's stories of hunting with your granddad, the girl you walked away from giving you a shot of your own medicine and the occasional snakey instrumental. Southern Bitch is something we all know, one way or another, and something all of us can relate to at one point in our respective lives.
Sometimes, rock and roll myths do come true