After more than three decades of making music and selling in excess of 20 million records, southern rock band 38 Special is still going strong.
The group behind a string of radio hits including “Hold On Loosely,” “Rockin’ Into the Night,” “Caught Up in You,” “If I’d Been the One,” “Back Where You Belong” and “Second Chance” has, in turn, been rewarded with multiple gold and platinum albums.
38 Special performs at Moncton’s Casino New Brunswick this Friday night, one of two shows the band will be playing in Atlantic Canada. Founding member Don Barnes couldn’t be happier with the group’s impressive tenure and the fact they can still wow audiences from the stage.
“It has been 37 years of brotherhood and camaraderie,” he says. “To be able to play music and bring joy to people’s lives every night is certainly very special.”
38 Special maintains a live schedule of approximately 100 shows per year. Barnes says they have found a good balance between maintaining some degree of normalcy in their personal lives and still doing what they love.
“The time from March to October each year tends to be the most active time for the group. We get to play shows on a lot of weekends but are then home for the rest of the week. Not a lot of jobs offer that kind of flexibility.”
Rounding out the current 38 Special lineup is guitarist/vocalist Danny Chauncey, drummer Gary Moffayy, bassist Barry Dunaway and keyboardist/vocalist Bobby Capps.
Barnes and Donnie Van Zant, the brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, founded 38 Special in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1975.
Barnes says the group cut their teeth playing various sailors clubs in their hometown.
“So many of the southern rock bands that people have come to know all came from the same town. It must have been something in the water down there. A lot of us owe our success to the navy as they had four naval bases in Jacksonville and a lot of southern musicians would play those sailors clubs. Every one of us plus legendary guys like Duane Allman all passed through those doors at one point or another.
“It was there, playing the hits of the day, that we learned how to write a song. And because music was keeping us off the streets, our parents were completely supportive of us pursuing music,” Barnes says.
Because the southern United States lacks a city comparable in size to Los Angeles or New York, Barnes says that it inadvertently helped fuel an underdog kind of mentality amongst the members of the group.
“Because we weren’t from New York or Los Angeles, we had to try that much harder to get into people’s faces,” he says. “It helped reveal a strength and fortitude in our music that might not have otherwise been there if we weren’t from the south.
“There is a lot of melody and a lot of blues in southern music. We had to write songs that were going to catch people’s attention but we also learned a lot from a guy like Ronnie (Van Zant). He always told us to not worry about being a clone of some other act. He said to find what makes your heart sing and follow that path. And I believe that is what we have done throughout our career. People can identify with what we are singing about in our songs. ”
Casino New Brunswick will donate all ticket sales leading up to the 38 Special concert this Friday night to the families of the RCMP officers killed in the line of duty earlier this month.
“Like all people from our community our hearts were broken with the loss of these heroes,” said Craig DeMarta, general manager of Casino New Brunswick. “Immediately our thoughts turned to their families and what we can do to assist them. For us this was an easy decision and one we hope will help build on many other initiatives being put in place to help the families.”
“This is our first concert at the Event Centre since the tragedy and we hope we can raise a great deal of money to assist these families,” DeMarta added.
Barnes says that being able to contribute money for the families of the fallen RCMP officers is an arguably small gesture on their part in light of such a tragedy. He says that both the band and crew are thrilled to be in the position to contribute.
“It is not often we are given the opportunity to show our appreciation for the work that police officers do. Our band and crew couldn’t be more honoured than to be contributing to such an incredibly worthy cause,” Barnes says.
What: 38 Special
When: Friday, June 20, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $35.99 plus taxes and service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone at 1-866-943-8849 and online at casinonb.ca