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Posted on Thu. Apr. 24, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Get ready for rockin' 38 Special party

Southern rock group is still evolving and working on an unplugged album.

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'Bring the party'

What: 38 Special performs its hits with special production techniques. Marshall Tucker Band will open the show.

When: 7:30 p.m. May 2

Where: Embassy Theatre, 121 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Cost: $25-$55, plus Ticketmaster fees. Tickets are available at the Embassy box office, Ticketmaster locations, www.ticketmaster.com and 1-800-745-3000.

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There's a party next Friday night, and 38 Special is the host.

The Southern rock band, known for “Hold On Loosely,” “Caught Up In You,” “Second Chance” and “If I'd Been the One,” performs its hits with special production techniques May 2 at the Embassy Theatre.

“We've been known to bring the party,” guitarist/vocalist Don Barnes said via phone from his home in Atlanta. “We get instant reactions (from the audience). High-fiving. Yelling. I've seen some with tears because songs remind them of someone they miss.”

38 Special, in particular, has experienced the valleys and the peaks since 1974, the year Barnes co-founded the group with Donnie Van Zant.

“We failed miserably for years, then became an overnight success,” he said. “Three albums went over the cliff, but we were too stubborn to quit.”

Barnes said most of the songs the group wrote and recorded were from his personal experiences at the time.

The group's first hit, “Hold On Loosely,” was based on Barnes' failing marriage and was co-written by Jim Peterik of the rock group Survivor. “We just wrote it out about a relationship going bad, but with a positive message,” he said.

“Caught Up in You” was written about Barnes' relationship with his girlfriend. He was on deadline to complete a new album when he told her, “I can't get any work done, I'm caught up in you,” and became the band's first No. 1 hit.

Guitarist/vocalist Danny Chauncey, bassist Barry Dunaway, drummer Gary Moffatt and keyboardist/vocalist Bobby Capps accompany Barnes on stage.

Van Zant no longer performs with the band because of inner-ear nerve damage caused from 40 years of performing music.

“I talk to him every now and then,” Barnes said. “He can't be around loud volume.”

“We just revamped everybody's part,” he said. “People are bowled over by the attitude.”

As someone who has paid his dues in the music business, Barnes offered advice to aspiring music artists like Dierks Bentley and Brantley Gilbert: “The light is shining on them now. The light is going to shine on you sometime, then others. Build your career with a good catalog and a good show.

“The little songs we cobbled up all those years ago are still popular today,” he said. “We keep pumping it out there.”

Barnes left the group briefly to pursue a solo career. His 1989 album, “Ride the Storm,” was never released because of the record company's buyout, which placed the album into permanent limbo.

“It was all about acquisitions and not in leasing, buying or selling,” he said. “Just hold on to it. If you had an album in 1990, it was the kiss of death.”

Barnes reflected further on changes in the music industry over the years.

“Record sales reversed to live shows,” he said. “The live show was presenting your album, and the bottom line was to sell your music. Now it's the live show making money, and your music is free on the Internet.”

38 Special performs 100 concerts yearly.

Still, 38 Special continues to evolve. After contributing to the movie soundtracks of “Revenge of the Nerds 2: Nerds in Paradise” and “Super Troopers,” Barnes said that has opened the doors to more scripts.

“It's a liberating experience for us to get outside yourself,” he said.

The band also is working on an unplugged album of its hits, but with changed meter, beats and keys, as well as working on an album of new material

Marshall Tucker Band will open 38 Special's 1 1/2 -hour concert at the Embassy.

“It's a celebration of brotherhood,” Barnes said. “It's explosive. We understand people need to get off work, fix dinner and get to the concert. We make sure very minute is worth it.”

skrieg@news-sentinel.com


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