(AUGUSTA, NJ) -- It’s never too early to think about summer and the unique Southern Rock music festival to kick off the concert season: Rock, Ribs & Ridges Festival. The festival, presented by Franklin Sussex Auto Mall, is returning to the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, NJ from June 23-25. Top legends of Southern rock-the Artimus Pyle Band, 38 Special and Blackberry Smoke are a few of the headline acts set to perform for the 13th annual music and barbecue festival. Other not-to-be-missed acts include the Devon Allman Project, Samantha Fish featuring Jesse Dayton and Dead on Live performing Grateful Dead Favorites, among others.
In addition to three days of music, some of the country’s top pitmasters will compete in juried competitions for “Best Ribs,” “Best Sauce” and “People’s Choice Awards.” Ribbers confirmed to attend this year’s event include Cowboys BBQ - Fort Worth, Texas; Bucks BBQ - Phillipsburg, N.J.; Kimchi Smoke - Westwood, N.J.; and Jim's Smokin' Que - Pittsburgh. They’ll be serving up their mouth-watering ribs, pulled pork, brisket and barbecue chicken and classic sides to the public for sale.
Savvy-saver pricing is now in effect, with 22 percent off gate prices before prices go up. Visit www.rockribsandridges.com for advance ticket sales.
FRIDAY, JUNE 23 - THE ARTIMUS PYLE BAND
More than just a "tribute" to Lynyrd Skynyrd, it's a huge "thank you" to the man that defined it. A Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame Member, Artimus Pyle has said "If it wasn't for Ronnie Van Zant, no one would know my name."
Since his departure from Skynyrd in 1991, Artimus Pyle's career has led him down an amazing path of solo records and projects culminating into one the finest tributes to southern rock royalty.
The Artimus Pyle Band is a high energy, true to the music, and true to the era rock group. Artimus Pyle, Brad Durden, Jerry Lyda, Dave Fowler and Scott Raines are not only a group of friends and contemporaries but also some of the most seasoned musicians in the country.
When he put together "The Artimus Pyle Band", Artimus wanted the band to be a proper representation of the true Skynyrd spirit, one that would do justice to those incredible songs that Ronnie Van Zant wrote and sang with such conviction.
The Artimus Pyle Band delivers hit after hit, night after night. So come and enjoy all the hits including Tuesday's Gone, Sweet Home Alabama, Gimme Three Steps, Travelin' Man, That Smell, Simple Man, Free Bird, Don't Ask Me No Questions, I Know A Little, Whiskey Rock-A-Roller, and much more! The best of Skynyrd from one of the men who made it.
SATURDAY, JUNE 24 - 38 SPECIAL
After more than four decades, 38 SPECIAL continues to bring their signature blast of Southern Rock to over 100 cities a year. At each and every show, thousands of audience members are amazed by the explosive power of the band's performance.
Their many Gold and Platinum album awards stand in testament to the endurance of a legendary powerhouse.
With sales in excess of 20 million, most associate the band with their arena-rock pop smashes, “Hold On Loosely,” “Rockin’ Into the Night,” “Caught Up in You,” “Fantasy Girl,” “If I’d Been the One,” “Back Where You Belong,” “Chain Lightnin’,” “Second Chance,” and more – Timeless hits that remain a staple at radio, immediately recognizable from the first opening chord, and paving the way to their present-day touring regimen.
Guitarist/vocalist Don Barnes says it's all about maintaining that intensity in their live shows. “We never wanted to be one of those bands that had maybe gotten a little soft or complacent over the years. We're a team, and it's always been kind of an unspoken rule that we don’t slack up, we stack up. We go out there every night to win.”
Completing the team is bassist Barry Dunaway, drummer Gary Moffatt and keyboardist/vocalist Bobby Capps. The most recent addition to the band is legendary virtuoso guitarist and vocalist Jerry Riggs.
For 38 Special onstage, it is a celebration of camaraderie and brotherhood, a precision unit bringing the dedication and honesty to a long history of classic songs, as well as surprisingly fresh new material.
Since 1976, the band has released more than 15 albums. And from the start, they’ve toured relentlessly, bringing their signature brand of ‘muscle and melody’ to fans worldwide.
It is that steely determination that lives on in the hearts of these ‘Wild-Eyed Southern Boys.'
Barnes adds, "This music keeps our wheels on the road. We're a band that's tried to stay honest with what has driven us over the years. We started out with nothing but bold determination to make our own history and to endure. Looking back now, it has been our greatest pride to have persevered and attained that level of success and longevity. For us, it's the ultimate validation.”
“The magic's still there,” adds Barnes. "It's an emotional high for us to keep 'bringing it' after all these years. When those lights go down and we all walk up those steps to the stage and hear that crowd roar, it’s a real rush to the head. It feels like we're getting ready to strap ourselves in and it just takes off from there."
SUNDAY, JUNE 25 - BLACKBERRY SMOKE
Throughout their career, Blackberry Smoke -- vocalist/lead guitarist Charlie Starr, guitarist/vocalist Paul Jackson, bassist/vocalist Richard Turner, drummer Brit Turner, and keyboardist Brandon Still -- has embodied Georgia's rich musical legacy, honoring the people, places and sounds of their home state. As the band celebrates their 20th anniversary this year, their reverence for Georgia has only deepened.
On their latest album, "You Hear Georgia", the follow-up to 2018's critically acclaimed "Find a Light", Blackberry Smoke is further celebrating these roots with 10 new songs that feel like Georgia, accented by the addition of Grammy-winning producer and fellow Georgia-native, Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile). "Dave and I had spoken for the last few years about making a record," Starr says. "Finally, it worked out, our schedule and his schedule, and we said, yes -- let's make a record."
Blackberry Smoke worked quickly, spending just 10 days at Nashville's famed RCA Studio A, Cobb's home base since 2016. The band recorded live on the floor, giving You Hear Georgia a crisp, outgoing feel. Like other Blackberry Smoke efforts, this album leans into well-crafted Southern rock driven by jagged guitar riffs and rich instrumentation, as the band layers on rollicking piano ("Live It Down"), funky grooves ("Hey Delilah"), and introspective acoustic sounds (the stripped-down, folk-leaning "Old Enough to Know").
"He's a very laid-back guy with excellent ideas, but he's very enthusiastic about making music, and he's right in there with you having a ball," Starr says. "He's a calming presence and so knowledgeable musically, and he knows how to get what he wants in the studio. I don't know if we could have made a record in 10 days with everyone, and that definitely speaks to Dave's ability."
Working with Cobb was the right move, as his approach brought warmth and looseness to the proceedings, while his easygoing demeanor and songwriting background allowed him to provide perceptive insights into this particular batch of Blackberry Smoke songs. In fact, the producer encouraged Blackberry Smoke to pursue the title track after hearing Starr noodling on the idea in the studio.
"He heard me play it, just the riff, and I sang a little bit of a verse and he said, 'What's that? What's that?'" Starr says. "I said, 'It's just something that's not finished yet.' And he said, 'Well, finish it, because we want to record that too.' So I went back to the hotel room and finished it, and there we go."
"You Hear Georgia" features a narrator who's underestimated because of outward appearances and misguided stereotypes, which is a theme of Starr's lyrics this time around, particularly as it relates to the band's Southern roots. "Lyrically, the song is about the South being misunderstood. It's obviously a rough and tumble world, and there's a lot of bad people. But there's a lot of good people too. It started with the idea of how people might have a preconceived opinion of you because of a thick Southern accent, then expanded into the reality of how some people just seem to have such a hard time getting along, thanks to political or religious views, or simply what part of the country you come from."
In addition to General Admission and VIP admission, festival-goers who opt for the full experience may choose to camp or stay in their RV immediately adjacent to the festival area at the Fairgrounds. There are multiple camper perks, including a special campers-only concert Saturday night featuring Preacher Stone and Friends, 24-hour access to restrooms and showers and a Sunday Morning Breakfast Get Together. RV Passes are going fast and WILL SELL OUT, so buy your 2023 camping and RV passes now. Prices subject to change without notice.
Festival-goers can also purchase group table seating in the Miller Mezzanine on Friday and Saturday in which they can reserve their own tables for family and friends.
Rock, Ribs & Ridges Festival is produced by Promo1, a 40-year-plus event marketing production company based in Fairfield, NJ. It also produces the New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning, which takes flight July 28 – 30, and is in its 40th year.