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Van Zant at Sherburn Friday, Saturday

By Staff | Aug 7, 2009

Did you miss Sturgis?

Don’t worry, it’s coming to Sherburn.

Jimmie Van Zant, a 17-year headliner at the Black Hills Motor Classic, is performing 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday at the Bulls, Bikes & Babes event at the I-90 Expo Canter at 1010 70th Ave. in Sherburn. In addition to the concert, the event will include bull riding, cowboy poker, wild cow milking and poker run. Food and liquid refreshments will also be available.

In an interview with the Daily News Thursday, Van Zant talked about his family, values and music – all of which reflect down-home American values.

Shunting aside the label “Southern Rock”, Van Zant aims to bring in an ever-growing audience that includes across-the-spectrum music fans, or as he says, grandparents, parents and kids.

“My fans are my family’s fans,” Van Zant said.

And that’s quite a pedigree.

Van Zant’s cousins are Johnny, Donnie (.38 Special) and Ronnie (Lynyrd Skynyrd) Van Zant. It was Ronnie who mentored Jimmie’s early development as a guitarist.

Van Zant said his fans include those who grew up with Skynyrd in their 20s, many of whom are now parents and grandparents of his youngest fans.

“The fan base is extremely huge,” Van Zant said. “We’re bringing in little kids 7 and 8.”

It’s bands like Van Zant’s that are resuscitating classic R&B and giving it a second life via a growing country fan base. Besides drawing in fans of classic Southern rock bands like the Allman Brothers and Pure Prairie League, that ever-growing fan base includes country, mainstream rock and other music fans that have turned away from hip hop and out-in-the-ozone experimental. Van Zant looks a lot like the late Waylon Jennings, and probably for a good reason. Like Jennings, he seems to be building on a growing crossover country base in which country has not only embraced but formed a marriage with classic rock.

As Van Zant describes it, his band plays country with flair, R&B and gospel.

“It’s down home music that people can identify and understand,” he said.

Like Johnny Cash, Van Zant’s father was a trucker, so he grew up listening to The Man in Black who said more than once that he was playing for the Common Man. And, like Cash, Van Zant is working on setting up some concerts in prisons.

While all of society is subject to the temptations of drugs and alcohol, it’s probably safe to say such things are an occupational hazard for those in the music industry. Van Zant acknowledges that reality, but at the same time says personal character is necessary to withstand those temptations and succeed professionally.

“It’s all around us. It’s never going away,” Van Zant said. “Every individual has to step up to the mirror and go on from there.”

Van Zant will perform classic numbers from the Van Zant family repertoire as well as selections from his new album, “My Name is Jimmie.”