By Steve Grunwald

Blackberry Smoke highlighted the second stage Saturday night at Downtown Hoedown, Detroit’s celebration of all things country, with their own brand of Southern country rock.

How happy were they to play Detroit?

“Totally, completely excited … to the max,” lead singer Charlie Starr said in a pre-stage interview with WYCD’s Steve Grunwald.

Then they hit the “Nashville In The Neighborhood” stage, rocking a large and loyal audience with throbbing electric guitar riffs and raw-edged vocals that turned honey sweet at times. Holding drinks aloft, the crowd sang along as they played “Everybody Knows She’s Mine,” “Up In Smoke,” and “One Horse Town.”

They just may be able to claim the title of “hardest working band in country music, playing 250 shows a year with their self-described mix of “gospel, bluegrass, arena rock, soul and more than a touch of outlaw country.”

The “Pretty Little Lie” band has released three albums in their 10 years together and tours relentlessly “up to 8,000 shows a year,” bandmate Richard Turner told Grunwald.

“We’re kinda grossed out by money,” he added, laughing.

And soon they’ll have something new to support, the band explained, saying they’ll release something new titled “Ain’t Much Left In Me.”

“It’s pretty good,” Starr said, “It’s about life handing you a hard time and you giving it a hard tirme right back.”

Made up of Starr, Turner, Brit Turner, Paul Jackson and Brandon Still, Blackberry Smoke is signed to the Zac Brown Band’s record label Southern Ground.

Their albums include 2004’s “Bad Luck Ain’t No Crime,” ‘Little Piece of Dixie,” and the latest, “The Whippoorwill,” which spawned the single “Pretty Little Lie.”

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