Van Zant II
CMC International
BB King’s Blues Bar, New York City

It is so rare for brothers of Rock and Roll royalty to record together and even far more difficult to see them perform together. I guess the closest would be Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughan or Michael and Rudy Schenker. But to have two pioneers of the southern rock genre, side by side, on the same stage, was damn near dreamlike.

“ It’s a dream come true,” says brother Donnie Van Zant (38 Special) as he sat dressed in leather while Johnny (Lynyrd Skynyrd) nervously paced back and forth backstage at BB. Kings. “We did our first record together a couple years ago called Brother To Brother, but we didn’t have the time to tour. Time is always a big factor for Johnny and myself. I mean this took us two years to get together. Last year, 38 Special did 130 shows and Skynyrd did 168 so we had to go back and forth to Nashville where we recorded Van Zant II then fly right back out to join our bands.”

You’d think with such an erratic recording schedule the disc would sound haphazard or disjoint. However, quite the opposite is true. The songs, ranging from mid-tempo rockers to breathing ballads, meld with dynamic range and professional precision while still showcasing a chemistry of forged talent and distinct vocal prowess.

“Johnny’s voice is so powerful,” comments Donnie. ‘He’s got the better voice (laughs). Every song is special to us in different ways. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be on this record. Hell, we still got some left over so there maybe a third record someday.”

The Van Zant’s were in New York not only to showcase their ten-track platter but kick off a nine date mini-tour specifically organized to bring the two and their music to fans of both bands. BB Kings is an intimate setting and was packed to the rafters with denim-clad yankees. The set rocked with a mixture of both Van Zant discs including the new radio single Get What You Got Comin’.

Much of what the Van Zant’s do lyrically is storytelling. Oklahoma deals with the plight and devastation of Tornado Alley. Is It For Real, Imagination and Wildside all have personal references while Alive (co-written by Jim Peterik) is a celebration of life. A story or two even made it in between the song breaks to the delight of the NYC crowd.

A spark ignited when the two joined forced with their legacy. Call Me The Breeze followed by Wild Eyed Southern Boys boosted the temperature and the crowd jumped to their feet. It was obvious to everyone they were all about having fun, exchanging glances and dancing around each other.

As they closed the show, a set of bar stools were brought out on stage. “We’re dedicating this one to our missing brother,” said Johnny. Brickyard Road went out to Ronnie Van Zant.