Scott B. Bomar
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Buy *Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock* by Scott B. Bomaro nline

Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock
Scott B. Bomar
Backbeat Books
304 pages
July 2014
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Southern rock. The genre has been around in one form or another since the 1950s, and it's always loosely been defined as "bands from the South." That's like simply saying that spaghetti, lasagna and ravioli are all pasta. Well, it is, but they're as different from one another as the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, two Southern bands whose only shared element was that they were both from somewhere below the Mason-Dixon line.

So, what is Southern rock? Author Scott B. Bomar tackles the question in a superbly-written and researched book that covers the music from birth through modern day. As we find out, the style was born of a marriage of blues, soul and country music and the early founders of the sound--most notably Little Richard and Elvis Presley. Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers brought this guitar-driven music to a national audience, and it continues to draw new fans and influence other musicians to this day.

In his wonderfully-written introduction, "Brothers and Sisters: Defining Southern Rock," the author shines a light on what this music is, why it sounds like it does, and who the key players are. His paragraph headings include descriptions such as

  • "Southern Rock Represents An Era in History As Much As A Musical Genre That Can Be Defined by Characteristics Like Melodic Structure or Specific Instrumentation"
  • "Southern Rock Belongs to A Particular Place"
  • "Southern Rock Was Created by Musicians With Similar Formative and Cultural Experiences," and
  • "Southern Rock Served As A Key Expression Of A Uniquely Countercultural Movement in the South"

You could stop reading after these opening six pages and know just about everything you'll ever need to know about the idiom. But don't. In this illustrated book, the author breaks down the music historically and looks at it by examining the main exponents and players, including the already-mentioned Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Brothers, Wet Willie, .38 Special, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Blackfoot, and many more.

The graphics are beautiful (a particular trademark of the publisher, Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard) and include black-and-white and color shots in the studio, onstage, candid poses, album covers, and much more.

This is the defining book on all things Southern rock. Today, some of the main purveyors include Kid Rock and an array of country bands like Zac Brown and Brooks & Dunn. If you didn't know that, you need to read this book. If you did know it, you've probably already read this book.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2014

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