DVD REVIEW: Scarred But Smarter: The Life n’ Times of Drivin’ n’ Cryin’
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
“I’m 80 pounds overweight, I have crooked teeth – yeah they can do better” says singer Kevin Kinney after reckoning that his band would – and perhaps should – sack him after every gig.
Despite seven albums, a modicum of success, more than one major-label deal, Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ were crippled from the start – sometimes it doesn’t matter how good a band is, they aren’t ever gonna make it in the ‘traditional’ music biz sense. Crippling self-doubt, drug-fuelled tensions, a restless inability to settle on one sound and stick with it, and an inability to deal with what success they did garner, all added up to a revolving line-up, and all the dysfunction you could ask for.
Driving – the rock n’ roll – and cryin’ – the ballads – that’s what this band was all about, and the presciently titled debut album Scarred But Smarter was merely a drop in the ocean of the Atlanta band as they threw themselves as heartily into drug habits as they did into hard rock, folk rock, southern fried rock, repeatedly refusing to be pigeon holed or corralled by the big labels who tried to turn them into cash cows.
Shot between 2012 and 2014, this documentary is cringingly honest, brutally forthright, cut by film maker Eric von Haessler without gimmicks or effects to simply tell the incredible story of an incredible band, featuring a bunch of damaged and eccentric musicians who shoulda been, coulda been, woulda been – but for whom compromising artistically would have meant betraying themselves at a core level.
It’s in peeling back the layers of the onion to get to the beating heart of the story that von Haessler has succeeded the most, and Scarred But Smarter is a riveting watch, uncomfortable though it is at times.
Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ continue to tour – usually with Jason & the Scorchers/Dan Baird & Homemade Sin guitarist Warner E Hodges on guitar these days – and seem to have found a comfortable place where they are happy with the success they have, the audience they have, and the ability to make eclectic music that they have.
In truth, that’s what every musician strives for deep down. It may not be a million bucks in the bank, but in many ways it’s more valuable than that.
Filed Under: Movie & Theatre Reviews
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE