Sunny Ledfurd Smokes The Whiskey … Jonathan “Dugi” Bakalli, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, now calling Gaston County, North Carolina home, is the dirty South’s nod to Kid Rock… Sunny Ledfurd, the original American Badass. The long-haired country rocker rolled into Downtown Wilmington, NC with his crew this past Carolina Saturday night and whipped out his big bag of monster party anthems to a rowdy, hard-swillin’ crowd at The Whiskey. With nine studio albums since his 1998 independently released debut “Rather Die Young” to his 2013 offering “Slick”, he shows no signs of slowing down yet. Seemingly, his lyrics come to his mind so easily… a true country poet lives inside him and is released on command. Weather he is cruising Lake Norman on a pontoon boat doing “gainers” off the side, just chillin’ at Myrtle Beach or on a rural back porch… Sunny’s lyrical gears are continually at work. He is currently putting together another album with an anticipated spring release next year and we can expect more of the same odes to the country life, drankin’, smokin’, NASCAR, bull riding and relaxing… all while enjoying the rockin’ and rollin’ lifestyle he accurately personifies. The band’s brief and discouraging stint with a major record label prompted Sunny to turn in a different direction with his own label, Ledfurd Recurds, and he is ropin’-up quite the stable of young talent… the bullridin’ cowboy-baller and NC State grad Luke Kaufman, the Redmond, Oregon wild child Matt Borden, outta Rock Hill, SC gangsta rapper Cran Neely… representin’ the 803, “the Cran Man will put u on ya back” along with other young bucks that have joined the Ledfurd family… go check ’em out.
The band slowly assembled on stage, after a little drankin’ at the bar with their fans, and got right down to business as Sunny tells it like it is on each and every heart-felt tune. With Greg Carey beatin’ the cans, Quincy Ellis handling the keyboard duties and country blues master Burl Torrence on the 6-string… teaming with Sunny on guitar proved to be a spectacular accompaniment as they showcased a raucous and blistering two hour set of the best Ledfurd classics. Performing the blue-light special hits “Til I Get To My Driveway”, “Pontoon Boat”, “Got All Night”, “Wildlife Club” and a track paying homage to the bull riding superstar “Jim Sharp” set the tone for the evening and they never let up. The retrospective and slower tempo tracks “Perfect Man”, “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On” and the always popular “friends-that-got-your-back” classic tune “Place to Stay” gave them time to catch their breath. The “look into the past” satirical tune “Smokin’ Indoors”, Sunny’s deep-rooted plea for his favorite beach hangout to return to the resort town it once was back in the day with the 2007 cult classic “Myrtle Beach”, WWE wrestler/ UFC Fighter Brock Lesnar’s theme song “Nickel-Size Hail and Damaging Winds” and the Rupert Holmes classic “Pina Colada Song” parody “Red Bull and Vodka” …were definitely the crowd favorites of a killer rockin’ set. The simple but quite clever lyrics and catchy hooks with “colorful language” grab your attention while the on-stage showmanship and precise guitar pickin’ keeps you wondering what’s next. The extended guitar jams on a few songs spotlighted the perfect pairing of Burl’s and Sunny’s country, rockin’ blues guitar styles as they fed off of each other throughout the show with Greg and Quincy holding it all together… the large crowd unconditionally approved. You don’t wanna miss a Sunny Ledfurd show if they come near ya… it’s a down home, good ‘ol time kinda night with his manager/brother Midgen Bakalli keeping the Ledfurd train a’ rollin’. Keep an eye on ’em at www.sunnyledfurd.com and show ’em some love. They have dates scheduled through January with a November 25th show slated in Charlotte, NC at the Riverview, November 28th at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC, a gig on December 4th at Canyons in Blowing Rock, NC and a December 12th appearance at Atlanta, GA’s Smith’s Olde Bar (Atlanta Room) before a date in Oregon and back to the East Coast… so, no excuse not to catch ’em live.
This was my first time seeing Sunny Ledfurd play live. I had never heard of him until about four years ago when we were doing the first on-site interview/concert coverage for the inaugural edition of the triple dot mag with Atlanta, Georgia favorites Drivin’ N ‘Cryin and after the interview Kevn Kinney told us about him. Kevn had just met and jammed with Sunny the weekend prior at the legendary Mountain Jam with Warren Haynes… and he was really impressed with Sunny’s songwriting ability as well as his guitar playin’ talents …saying, “he sings and writes about what he knows about”. Kevn said he was one of the most talented and under-rated singer/songwriter/guitarist out there. So, with a powerhouse endorsement like that… I had to go check ’em out. At first, I was drawn to his satirical/parody songs and party anthems. Then, I listened to his other songs, I really started to see that Kevn Kinney was completely correct… what a one-of-a-kind, gifted artist “Dugi” really is. What you see is what you get with Sunny and “Dugi”… and he does it his way with a little humor and country swagger thrown in to boot. As his penned tune “Jim Sharp” boasts, “ It ain’t about money, it ain’t about fame, if you’re a badass they’ll remember your name”, yep… that sounds about right. Ehhh,errr hmmmm… “Ya GD Right Jim Shaaaarrrrp!!!”… yeah, I just tried to sing it.
By Rob Grissom for 3dotmag.com