I’ve always been a fan of Southern Rock. I grew up about halfway between Atlanta and Athens — two Georgia cities with vibrant music scenes, and over the years I’ve found myself drawn to the music of this colorful region of the country.
Though much early rock music originated in the South, a subgenre emerged in the late ’60s and ’70s — a melding of rock, country, and blues that earned the name Southern Rock. The themes of regional pride, wanderlust, and hardship are as prevalent in Southern Rock as the universal themes of love and loss, and many modern Southern Rockers have tried to come to grips with the South’s sometimes difficult and painful history.
Today, Southern Rock is far from monolithic — in fact, there’s something for just about everybody. The genre covers ground as varied as the region itself, from storytellers like Shawn Mullins and Bill Mallonee, to jam bands like Widespread Panic and the Derek Trucks Band, to the soulful stylings of artists like Mother’s Finest, Ashley Cleveland, and Alabama Shakes, to the new Southern sounds of bands like Kings of Leon and The Features. Even Christian bands like Third Day and Needtobreathe have managed to successfully cultivate a Southern Rock sound.
Here’s my list of ten bands that define Southern Rock. I don’t intend for this to necessarily be the most comprehensive list, nor do I mean to imply that these bands are the absolute best of the genre. My main criterion was to limit the list to bands that originated in the South — that’s why you won’t see bands like The Eagles, Poco, Ram Jam, or Bad Company on the list, even though they may well deserve to be. I also didn’t include solo artists on the list.
With all that said, enjoy the list!