The amazing success of the Drive-By Truckers over the past decade has been as improbable as it has been well deserved. The Truckers began life as Adam’s House Cat (which made the Top 10 in MusicianMagazine’s Best Unsigned Band contest in the late ’80s). After assuming different forms and then taking a break, guitarist Patterson Hood formed the Truckers in 1996 to coax guitarist Mike Cooley back to the band life. The Truckers released a trio of well-received independent albums before crafting their 2001 magnum opus, Southern Rock Opera, an ostensible song cycle about the wild ascent and tragic end of Lynyrd Skynyrd. SRO was the Truckers’ real debut to the world via an unheard of four-star review in Rolling Stone, breaking the magazine’s editorial policy of a three-star ceiling for indie albums.
SRO’s almost universal acclaim (No Depression named DBT “Band of the Year”) put the Truckers in a spotlight that has yet to dim.
In the subsequent decade, the Truckers have released other conceptually themed albums (2003’s Decoration Day, 2004’s The Dirty South), survived lineup shifts (most notably the departure of guitarist Jason Isbell), changed labels three times, toggled back and forth between Country twang and Roots Rock intensity, worked with Booker T. Jones and Bettye LaVette, relaxed for solo outings from Hood and Cooley and continued to evolve into a fascinating evocation of old school ’70s Southern Rock in the new millennium.
Unlike a lot of their influences, Drive-By Truckers have remained open to experimentation, which has resulted in a diverse and consistently excellent body of work, particularly last year’s expansive Rock album, The Big To-Do, and this year’s sultry Soul burner, Go-Go Boots. Whatever musical direction they’ve pursued, Drive-By Truckers have kept a heavy boot on the gas pedal and rambled toward their targets with inspirational passion and unwavering dedication.
DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS play 20th Century Theatre Thursday, Oct. 20 with THOSE DARLINS. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.