By MIKE CHAIKEN
After The Outlaws’ groundbreaking first three albums, founding guitarist Henry Paul headed out on his own.
First, he formed, The Henry Paul Band. Then he formed the hit country band, Blackhawk.
While Paul was out on his own, he watched the membership of the band he helped found dwindle down to all but a memory.
Founding members Frank O’Keefe and Billy Jones died in 1995. And original vocalist/lead guitarist Hughie Thomasson died in 2007.
The group, which was still a regular on the road, was now down to just drummer Monte Yoho as the only original member of the band that recorded “Outlaws,” “Lady in Waiting,” and “Hurry Sundown.”
Paul, who was up to his ears in his work with Blackhawk, said he was concerned for the legacy of the band he helped launch. He knew that for the band to maintain its musical integrity, it needed the help of someone who had a hand in shaping the music. They also needed a good band leader who would give it a sense of direction again.
And with Paul’s help, a revitalized version of The Outlaws has established itself once again to keep its Southern rock legacy alive.
That legacy is now captured in a two CD live set called, “Legacy Live,” which was set for a Nov. 11 release
The Outlaws stop in at the Infinity Hall in Hartford on Nov. 10.
“The band is in a good place, playing hard,” said Paul in a phone interview.
The new live album features what The Outlaws– which are now Paul on guitars and vocals, Yoho on drums, Chris Anderson on lead guitar and vocals, Randy Threet on bass and vocals, Dave Robbins on keyboards and vocals, and Steve Grisham on lead guitar and vocals– felt were the best performances form their most recent tours, said Paul.
“Ironically, they mostly came from two performances,” said Paul.
The performances of each song selected worked for “Legacy Live” because “the drums were great. The guitars were right on. There was no need for (studio) manipulation… (The recordings) were sonically exceptional.”
And, indeed, in many ways, the live recordings on “Legacy Live” leave The Outlaws’ earlier live set, “Bring It Back Alive,” in the dust. It’s full of energy. The vocals are strong. And there is passion in the grooves.
The Outlaws arrived at a time in music—the 1970s– where everything on rock radio seemed to come from the American South. Besides, the boys from Tampa, music fans were jamming to the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Charlie Daniels Band, ZZ Top, and more.
Paul said the Allman Brothers Band deserve all of the credit for the rise of Southern rock that eventually gave birth to The Outlaws. All of the other bands were influenced by the original version of the Allmans with Duane Allman on lead guitar as well as the subsequent incarnation of the band that recorded “Brothers and Sisters” after Duane Allman’s untimely death. (“That was an influential record,” said Paul of the album that gave the world, “Ramblin’ Man”.)
The rise of Southern rock was also about more than just a shared love of music, said Paul. There was a camaraderie among the bands, based partially on their geographical origins “We all felt proud being from the South rather than being from New York and California.”
“It was like a brotherhood,” said Paul. “When you were in you were in.”
Southern rock bands also were known for their willingness to stretch out on a song and take the listeners on a journey. Think the Allman Brothers Band “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” or “Whipping Post.” Think Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.”
The Outlaws’ 10 minute long “Green Grass and High Tides” sits nicely in the pantheon of classic Southern rock jams. And the song still is a standard on classic rock radio.
“In its original form, (‘Green Grass and High Tides’) was a work of art…a masterpiece that was beautifully constructed,” said Paul, explaining the original recording’s longevity on radio and in the hearts of fans. “If you can put a committed, and emotionally invested performance, people will be blown away.”
And when fans come out to the Infinity Hall in Hartford to see The Outlaws, Paul said they should expect, “Musicianship put on display.”
Additionally, Paul said the band also likes to take time between songs to share the stories of the “old days” and the personalities they met in heyday of Southern rock. For instance, he said fans should expect some interesting tales about the late great Ronnie Van Zandt from Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“We’re very gracious with our fans,” said Paul. “We bend over backwards to make every evening memorable.”
The Outlaws perform at Infinity Hall on Front Street in Hartford on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $59 and $79. For more information, go to InfinityHall.com or OutlawsMusic.com