I remember when I was 15 and wearing out my Lynyrd Skynyrd record, "Free Bird" with my friends--for more than two years solid, I revered and loved that song--but suddenly everything changed.
I heard this new, better, more "smokin" guitar song, "Green Grass and High Tides" by The Outlaws.
Sadly, there are only two remaining members of the band keeping the Outlaws flame alive; Henry Paul, vocalist, guitarist, and frequent songwriter and Monte Yoho, drummer and songwriter. Tioga Downs is a raceway and casino located in upstate New York between Binghampton and Elmira.
Besides the lyrical genius of Paul's words and the imagery they convey, these songs' music mixes a beautiful, acoustic guitar opening with raucous, hard-driving type leads from there on in.
Born in Kingston, New York but Florida-bred, Paul has made a brand out of his signature harmonies and melodic vocal style--you can always pick his voice out of the Outlaws' vocal patterns. What follows here are a few of the pictures I took of Tommy Crain that night at The Pond in Franklin, Tennessee as well as one of his great 1968 Les Paul Gold Top which I had seen him rip into at so many CDB shows over the years. Cutting back to the recent upstate New York Outlaws' show, when I saw Billy Crain backstage before the show, I showed him his brother's CD I had been listening to and asked him if he wasn't going to pair up in a band with his brother Tommy someday.
The newest release is a 12-song CD with a strong remake of the Henry Paul Band classic, "So Long" and a title track, "It's About Pride" which is reminiscent of the 1975 Outlaws in terms of bold guitar chords, harmonies and Southern flavor. On writing songs: "You're writing your songs to the collective soul of the audience and fan base.
When I ask Paul about "The Flame," a tribute to longtime Outlaws band-mate, friend and sometimes adversary, Hughie Thomasson, Paul gets very introspective, insightful and somewhat emotional. On getting signed as Clive Davis' Arista Records first act: "Clive Davis came down to one of our gigs in Columbus, Georgia on a private jet and saw us at an armory with Skynyrd and sat with us in the dressing room after the show and he told us he was going to sign us to his label." There is much mythology around the Outlaws beginnings including a story that Davis went running down the aisle at that Skynyrd show shouting "Encore! The Outlaws hit the stage in full daylight with the sun on its way down which was perfectly timed for "Hurry Sundown" the third song in their set. Opening up with "Tomorrow's Another Night" from their new, "It's About Pride" release, The Outlaws began in typical Outlaws' fashion: with a cappella harmonies kicking into a strong, three-guitar chord riff. The opening strains of "There Goes Another Love Song" kicked right in and got the crowd on their collective feet, hooting and hollering.
A jaunty' "Freeborn Man" was put on display for all in attendance and the crowd approved mightily.

Over 200,000 square miles (520,000 sq km) of Alaskan territory could be designated ‘critical habitat’ for polar bears, under new proposals from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. If the land is designated as critical habitat any “destruction or adverse modification” of it will be prohibited under the Endangered Species Act.
The proposal was welcomed by the Center for Biological Diversity, but Brendan Cummings, the CBD’s senior attorney, accused the Interior Department of being “schizophrenic” as earlier this week its Minerals Management Service approved plans for oil exploration in the Beaufort Sea. Steven – the dispute was covered by a few chemistry magazines in 2004 when Roald Hoffmann published his account. Though I always loved Skynyrd, hearing this song began an almost 40-year fascination with this band and their hard corps yet often gentle music.
It is about a 4-hour drive from New York City and is located in a beautiful valley of rolling, green hills. He was the one that brought, I think the true Country flavor to many of their greatest songs. When Paul was 20, he moved back to New York City, Greenwich Village no less, where in the late 60's the music scene was nonpareil.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee--about the best place a Southern musician can hail from--Billy Crain was almost playing guitar while he was in his bassinet. The mixed audience gave The Outlaws a good opportunity to reconnect with old friends and fans and meet some new ones. Because you know those people like they're your family; you understand them, what they like and what pushes their buttons.
Monte Yoho told me before the show that he had co-written TGALS with Hughie which I didn't know. This would apply to oil and gas exploration activities which are currently underway in the area says the FWS. It is the latest move in ongoing wrangling over protection for the animals, which was a major issue for environmentalists under the Bush administration (see Interior revokes Bush rule on endangered species and Obama backs Bush on polar bear). Once in the Village, he told me, he embarked on "a tracing of Bob Dylan's footsteps" that left an indelible imprint on his songwriting future.
His older brother Tommy Crain played guitar and wrote songs with Charlie Daniels for the better part of two decades.

I lived in Nashville for a while a few years back and stumbled one night into a superb Franklin dive-bar called The Pond which was featuring "Tommy Crain and The Crosstown Allstars" that night. I felt just terrible but Billy Crain was as nice as he could be about it, "You didn't know, don't feel bad. You know, if you're going to write a song about something that they're affectionate about you'll hit them right between the eyes. Before Arista signed Blackhawk, there was no Blackhawk, so these record companies invested significant amounts of money to promote your music, to get it played on radio and expose the audience to the music. Seeing them onstage with The Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band, Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd or countless others was for a long time, one of the best experiences I could have. If you feel like hopping in your car or on your bike and escaping the City for a day or two, this is a good option. Like Charlie Daniels wrote 'The South's Gonna Do It Again' and it was directly at his audience.
So when I write for my audience, I write from a first-person perspective, like 'a stranger stepped out from the shadows with a black guitar all trimmed in gold' then you get to the metaphor, 'a wanted man's son with a lightning-fast gun,' it's almost like 'The Ride of Paul Revere' where you're writing about someone you know. I mean this is a guy, who not unlike Frank (O'Keefe) or Billy (Jones), who we struggled together to do what we dreamed of doing and we persevered together through that struggle and succeeded. So it binds you and bonds you in a way like a tattoo; it's an indelible lifetime love affair of success and effort and sacrifice. Everyone had gone to bed and Hughie and I were having some cocktails in the front lounge and Hughie told me he was homesick and wanted to go home. It was an emotional moment where you have to reconcile the fact that what you dreamed of has taken your life over and you no longer have control over it. And I said 'Well, we can't go home anymore.' I was offering up a realistic antidote for his problem but there was no home-going.

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