Before taking the Exit 111 Festival stage Friday, members of hard rocking band Black Stone Cherry sat down with the Manchester Times to discuss their new EP, the festival and their excitement for sharing an event with famed Southern-rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“Our last album (‘Family Tree’) came out April of last year,” said Black Stone guitarist Ben Wells. “The new release ‘Black to Blues (Volume 2)’ is coming out Nov. 1.”
Wells said that the new EP will be a cover album of the band’s favorite blues songs. “Black to Blues Vol. 1” included covers of Muddy Waters, Freddie King and Albert King songs.
Black Stone Cherry was formed in 2001 in Edmonton, Kentucky. The band has toured with Nickelback, Bad Company, Whitesnake and Shinedown. The show at Exit 111 was something of a reunion rejoining Alter Bridge, Def Leppard and Lynyrd Skynyrd, who the group has toured with over the years.
“Compared to a lot of gigs we’ve played, we’re really local,” said lead singer Chris Robertson.
“We haven’t done a festival in the states in about a year,” he said.
“We’ve been extremely liberating to go out and do our own thing in clubs,” Wells said.
“But we’re really looking forward to this. This is the first time we’ve got to do this in a while, and play with a lot of heavy bands. And see a lot of friends we haven’t seen in a while.” Robertson added.
“The biggest one for me is Skynyrd. It’s cool. We play tonight (last Friday) on a different stage. But tomorrow, we are direct support for them on a stage in Little Rock, Ark. When everybody leaves and goes their separate ways, we get to follow Skynyrd in the same gig for possibly on of their last ones,” he said.
“This is the last confirmed show with them for a while. It’s my favorite band of all time. That’s always huge for me,” Robertson said.
“We’ve done several different tours with them across America,” Wells said. “We’ve had the chance to get to know them and form relationships with them.”
The year after Black Stone Cherry formed, the first Bonnaroo made festival history, or according to USA Today, was the “Culmination of a musical movement.”
“I think it really cool when festivals have a lot of different acts,” Wells said.
“It’s cool when a festival can have someone like Ziggy Marley, then us,” he said.
“I’ve never been down here,” Robertson said. “Being so close. Every time it got time for Bonnaroo, we were always on the road. It’s cool to play a show on the grounds at least. Hopefully, this one will kick up and take off and be a dedicated rock ’n’ roll Bonnaroo.”