Hometown Atlanta rockers Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ rang in the new year at Variety Playhouse Dec. 31, 2013 with special guests Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project. Balloons were tied to the ceiling just in front of the stage in anticipation of midnight as the crowd eagerly awaited 2014.
Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project, the new folksy side project of Collective Soul front man Ed Roland, took the stage first, performing songs from its debut album Devils & Darlins. In addition to Roland, the band features four other singer/songwriters, including Grant Reynolds, Brian Bisky, Mike Rizzi and Christopher Alan Yates. Each member of the band got to showcase their vocal and instrumental talents over the course of the evening, with Reynolds picking up a lap steel guitar and mandolin in addition to his guitar. Roland has said that the main difference between the Sweet Tea Project and Collective Soul is in the instrumentation, along with multiple vocalists, and the five musicians play very well off one another. Songs performed included “Already Over,” “Devils N’ Darlins,” “Just As I Am,” “Forget About Your Life (For a While)” and a cover of Johnny Cash’s “I Shot a Man In Reno,” along with many more.
With the crowd revved up and ready, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ took the stage, first wishing the excited audience a happy new year and performing hits such as “Build A Fire” and “Honeysuckle Blue,” with fans singing along to every word. Frontman Kevn Kinney, rocking his ball cap as always, reminisced about the band’s roots and how far it’s come since 1986’s Scarred But Smarter to most recent release, 2013’s Songs from the Psychedelic Time Clock. New song “Daydream” from the forthcoming Songs for the Turntable, the final EP of the four part series set to release Jan. 14, 2014, was very well received by the crowd. Old school sing along favorite “Straight To Hell” played everyone into the midnight hour as shots of champagne were handed out and the band counted down to the new year, balloons falling over the crowd as they celebrated. After the commotion, the band launched into “Fly Me Courageous” to close out a memorable night.