Lynyrd Skynyrd – Down South Jukin’

Entering the parking lot to people gathering at the Skynyrd Tour buses to take pictures was a blast in the past for me. It was a beautiful night and I could sense the excitement in the air has the Venue filled with Lynyrd Skynyrd Fans.  Opening the show for Skynyrd was a local Orange County band by the name of Jeramiah Red. The band instantly grabbed my attention because of the unique stage setup. Three Guitarists, one Bassist and two percussionists with a Harmonica thrown into the mix. The guitarist selection of amps and guitars added to their unique sound and was a refreshing change. Kind of a mixture of Black Keys, Kings of Leon with a bit of Bob Dylan.  A few songs stood out for me; one songs rhythmic syncopated guitar reminded me of Uriah Heep’s song “Easy Livin’” and closing the night they managed to inject Led Zeppelin’sWhole lotta Love” into the mix which got everyone primed for what was about to come.

ACDC’s song “Thunderstuck” started filling the Amphitheatre airways which had everyone standing in anticipation for Lynyrd Skynyrds entrance.  The Crowd was going nuts! Then the opening Riff of “Call me the Breeze” pumps out and the crowd goes crazy!  You knew that Skynyrd was in the House and the House was a Rockin’. What a great way to start the evening.  It was loud and in your face, just as it should be. Without a break, the band went into “What’s Your Name,” which started to loosen up the audience and then “You got that Right”.  Then “Saturday Night Special” turned up the aggressive guitar sound several notches and showed us why Lynyrd Skynyrd is known for their great live shows. It’s a great tune that makes us all embrace the Southern Rock way of life.

Down South Jukin’” kept the energy flowing and the music kept doing the talking.  Johnny Van Zant is a great frontman and he definitely keeps the set flowing smoothly along from song to song. The band keeps bringing it as if they were still in their 20’s and had something to prove. “That Smell” brought its own form of irony to the table, as it was a dire warning about drinking and drugs. “I know a Little” starts with my favorite guitar intro of all time and proceeds to get the crowd up and dancing. It was written by Steve Gaines for his old band, and when he played if for Skynyrd, they said, “You’re hired!” Next song up was “Simple Man” which Van Zant took the time to pay tribute to our U.S. military currently serving our country and our veterans.  It was a very cool moment as the crowd was singing acapella with some help from Van Zant.  Even the young people knew the lyrics; partially because of the songs constant airplay on the radio by the popular band Shinedown.

Gimme back my bullets” from the bands fourth studio album by the same name took the crowd out of the ballad mindset and got them groovin’ again. Then another song about hard drugs being killers “Needle and Spoon” which led into one of my favorite ballads, “Tuesday’s Gone”.  The sound filled the air with sweetness and you could see it on the crowds face as they all sang along. Then the band stepped it up into “T for Texas” which is an old Jimmie Rodgers tune and had most of the crowd singing along. I’m starting to notice a pattern!  Audience was having a great time singing along with the songs and then “Gimme three Steps” put the crowd into a frenzy, with its fun and scary true-life story of a Van Zant singer dancing with a girl named Linda Lou, only to be interrupted by her significant other and a loaded .44. This song is one of the Skynyrd’s biggest hits and one my band played back in the day.

The band sounded like they could go all night as they effortlessly rocked through the song.  Johnny Van Zant stepped up and tied a confederate flag on his mic-stand and proudly announced “Heritage Not Hate” and the band went into “Sweet Home Alabama,” complete with the crowds loud vocals on the chorus.  I have seen Lynyrd Skynyrd live a few times in the past, including last year in

Costa Mesa.  It was a real treat to lay my eyes and ears on them in their element. They are a true American band. They fully delivered and impressed me at every show. I could sense that this was the end of the band’s set. A brief inventory of their catalog in my head told me what was likely to happen. The lights went out, except for a spot on the piano, which showed a golden statue of a bald eagle on the piano lid. Keys came out and started playing a beautiful melody and started to build the tension to get us ready for southern rocks answer to “Stairway to Heaven.”  The crowd started the chanting which I myself have heard at almost every gig my band played.  “Free bird, Free bird, Free bird” over and over again until, it was on. “Free Bird” began!  One of the most epic songs ever.  The audience was in mass hysteria and with the infamous three guitar onslaught pounding your ears you had no option but to dance and raise your arms in the air and join into the insanity. What a great song!

Vocalist Johnny Van Zant, Guitarist Rickey Medlocke, frontman for Blackfoot, was once a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd (pre-Blackfoot), where he played drums and sang. He rejoined Skynyrd in 1996. The rest of the touring band is guitarist Mark “Sparky” Matejka, drummer Michael Cartellone, bassist Keith Christopher (Georgia Satellites,the Brains), Keyboardist Peter Keys, and background singers Dale Krantz Rossington and Carol Chase. All the personnel changes have been significant, but the world-class music delivery is still heartfelt and top notch.

I think the best way to describe this show and pay homage to the performance Lynyrd Skynyrd gave here in Costa Mesa was it sounded fresh as if these songs were being played for the very first time. Not a single note sounded tired, labored or out of place. These are truly special songs and they deserve the kind of performance that was given them.

This was a serious rock concert that delivered all the energy, feel and attitude that you’d ever expect or want from a rock band. All cylinders were firing. The audience loved it and the musicians on stage looked pleased at their reaction.  Do yourself a favor and add to your bucket list “See Lynyrd Skynyrd Live.”



Johnny Van Zant – Vocals

Gary Rossington – Guitar

Rickey Medlock – Guitar

Mark ‘Sparky’ Matejka – Guitar

Peter Keys – Keyboard

Keith Christopher – Bass

Michael Cartellone – Drums


Skynyrd setlist:

  1. Call me the Breeze (JJ. Cale Cover)
  2. What’s your Name
  3. You got that Right
  4. Saturday Night Special
  5. Down south Jukin’
  6. That Smell
  7. I know a Little
  8. Simple Man
  9. Gimme back my Bullets
  10. Needle and spoon
  11. Tuesday’s gone
  12. T for Texas (Jimmie Rodgers Cover)
  13. Gimme Three steps
  14. Sweet Home Alabama
  15. Free Bird

Venue: Pacific Amphitheatre

Date: July 15th, 2017



A Sample of The Show

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