Prisoner of Southern Rock
(Mercer University Press, 2012) Prisoner of Southern Rock is the unlikely story of one Southern boy’s rise from near poverty to a respected Southern music historian, specializing in the sub-genre known as Southern Rock. The book traces Smith’s journey from his meager beginnings in upstate South Carolina to his work as a musician and journalist during his college years and his destined founding of the Southern rock magazine Gritz following a near-death experience from a chronic bacterial infection. The memoir combines stories from his childhood with stories of life on the road, backstage, and onstage with many of the bands he worshipped as idols during his early years. Included are nail-biting tales of his complicated birth and, sometimes, turbulent life including a month-and-a-half stay in the hospital during the summer of 1998 that found him dying on the operating room table-twice. There are also stories of his friendships including on and offstage experiences with bands such as The Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Molly Hatchet, and many others. Prisoner of Southern Rock also includes never before seen photographs, quotes from Southern Rock’s finest, and an annotated list of the 100 Defining Moments in the History of Southern Rock. These are the life and times of the man known around the world as “the Ambassador of Southern Rock.”
Prisoner of Southern Rock is also available at the Allman Brothers Band Big House Museum and at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Gift Store.
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Library Journal 5.0 out of 5 stars
Music writer Smith (Carolina Dreams: The Musical Legacy of Upstate South Carolina) pens this memoir of growing up in South Carolina, working as a journalist and musician, and getting to know artists such as the Allman Brothers, Charlie Daniels, the Marshall Tucker Band, and many others. Smith does not attempt to chronicle Southern rock exhaustively but rather recounts, in a chatty and casual tone, his personal involvement with many of the book's key figures. While a number of other books focus on specific Southern rock artists (e.g., Randy Poe's Skydog: The Duane Allman Story; Gene Odom's Lynyrd Skynyrd: Remembering the Free Birds of Southern Rock), few attempt to cover the genre as a whole (Mark Kemp's Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race, and New Beginnings in a New South is one exception). VERDICT Smith's intimate knowledge of and passion for Southern rock make this a welcome addition to the literature on the subject. It will be of interest to fans of the genre or readers looking for a breezy memoir of life around popular musicians, much like Rolling Stones sax-man Bobby Keys's memoir, Every Night's a Saturday Night.
—David E. Valencia, Seattle P.L.
Prisoner of Southern Rock
(Mercer University Press)
You certainly feel the warm sense of Southern ideals and a longing for simpler times just a few chapters into Michael Buffalo Smith’s memoir Prisoner of Southern Rock. Over its course, mundane situations like a bus ride with members of The Marshall Tucker Band become page-turners by way of the obvious thrill in Buffalo’s voice. Who is this big man from Spartanburg, SC with the spark in his britches? Smith grew up Baptist with stickball and soda pop and dusty roads, and made some oddball life choices as we all do. He thrived on Star Wars and KISS and just about anything else in the entertainment sphere, and became especially obsessed with the countryfied, bluesy, and soulful barn-burnin’ music that surrounded him, the music known as Southern rock.
Smith founded the online Gritz and Kudzoo magazines, among other ventures, always reporting with relish on the culture and songs of the South. He also writes, sings and plays guitar, putting his own distinctive mark on the genre he cherishes.
The firsthand glimpses into the life of a star-struck troubador interviewing, hanging with and playing with his heroes leave lasting impressions of his good friends like Charlie Daniels, Bonnie Bramlett, the Winters Brothers, the members of Blackfoot and many, many others. In some cases, his stories fizzle before the expected band (why didn’t the Cowboy reunion album happen, really?) But that’s alright mama- there’s still a plethora of cool in Prisoner of Southern Rock. Plus, there’s that deep-seated integrity, and thankfully, not an ounce of self-serving dirt-dishing.
Hittin’ The Note
Issue 76, March 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Barnes & Noble
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A well written and highly enjoyable book, whether you know about, or even care about, southern rock or not. Buffalo is an engaging writer who has lead a very interesting life, and is obviously passionate about the music, movies and books that have shaped his life. I did find a couple of typos in the book, but that happens. Heck, there were three in Gregg Allman's new book. I learned a lot about Buffalo, as well as things about Charlie Daniels, the Allman Brothers and other artist that I never knew, and it makes me smile to see that the “ambassador of southern rock”; is also a fan of Bruce Springsteen, Kate Bush, Meatloaf and Kiss. Buffalo's 100 most important moments in southern rock history is also included, as are tons of photos from his life. Highly recommended.
Posted at AMAZON.COM
5.0 out of 5 stars
Memoirs of a Great, but "relatively" unknown Man, Referred to as "The Ambassador of Southern Rock"!!!!!
January 14, 2013
By Gary Covington TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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This is a fantastic book about a "relatively" unknown musician, philanthropist, writer & archiver of Southern Rock - Michael Buffalo Smith. Smith, originally from South Carolina has been writing about, archiving, & performing Southern Rock for approximately 30 years. He was the former editor & publisher of "GRITZ" magazine for around 13 years, starting around 1998. In the "GRITZ" magazine, he wrote about Southern Rock, Southern Music in general, and Southern Culture.
The book contains an excellent introduction, written by "Native Southerner/Movie Star", Billy Bob Thornton. Billy Bob is a personal friend of the author, Micheal Buffalo Smith. The book contains photos of the author with Billy Bob Thornton.
This book is a well written memoir about Smith's experiences, including experiences with The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Charlie Daniels Band, Molly Hatchet, Southern Rock Allstars, Blackfoot, The Outlaws & Hughie Thomasson, Wet Willie & Jimmy Hall, Black Oak Arkansas & Jim Dandy, Bonnie & Bekka Bramlett, Dickey Betts, Artimus Pyle, "Mama Louise" of H & H Resturant, in Macon, GA., Grant's Lounge in Macon, GA., and many, many other people & places involved in "Southern Rock". This book also covers the Walden brothers & Capricorn Records, of Macon, Georgia. "Mama Louise" used to feed the Allman Brothers Band members, when they lived in the "Big House" in Macon, GA. This book even covers some experiences the author shared with Texas Music Legends, Edgar & Johnny Winter.
The book contains several photo's of the author, along side such "Southern Rock Greats", such as Dickey Betts, Artimus Pyle, Charlie Daniels (The "Godfather of Southern Rock"), and many, many others, including "Mama Louise".
This book is an excellent reference book about Southern Rock, as well as a memoir of a Great Man, full of great Southern Rock experiences. It also contains some of the author's personal experiences in life in general, including some "Near Death" experiences & some personal hardships the author went through. It kind of reminds me of the movie "Almost Famous", which is basically a story about Rock journalist Cameron Crowe, who also had many experiences with Southern Rock bands. This book even covers the Cameron Crowe story.
I love Southern Rock, and consider this a "must-have", for Southern Rock fans. After reading this book, I just wonder how did I not previous know of this man, Michael Buffalo Smith. He had already written a previous book about South Carolina, Southern Rock. Plus, he is from the same hometown as the Marshall Tucker Band. Also, after reading this book, I found Mr. Buffalo's writings & experiences with & about "Southern Rock" to be astondishingly amazing. THIS GUY REALLY KNOWS WHAT HE'S WRITING ABOUT. There is no doubt, he is TRULY, THE "WORLD'S AMBASSADOR OF SOUTHERN ROCK".
5.0 out of 5 stars
Prisoner of Southern Rock is an excellent title for us southern rockers. Anyone can't just live the life as Micheel did, but we can live it through him.
March 26, 2013
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As I said in my heading..This is a book who many of us have heard the music and experienced our brush with these musicians Michael wrote about.He was able to live the dream.He was able to experience what we which we had..He was and is friends of those southern rock icons,Many of whom are gone now but we get to relate and relive thru Michael words and experiences.Michael is also a great musician in his own right.
I highly recommend this book and know it will a valuable part of your music collection,as it is mine.
Thank you Michael for sharing your heart and times for us southern rock fans.
Midwest Book Review March, 2013
Also Published in California Book Review March, 2013
Prisoner of Southern Rock: A Memoir chronicles the unlikely story of a Southern boy's rise from near poverty to a respected Southern music historian specializing in Southern Rock, and provides a concurrent blend of memoir and Southern Rock history in a title recommended for any rock music holding or collection strong in Southern culture. Stories of Smith's personal life and challenges accompany stories of his friendships with bands from The Allman Brothers to Charlie Daniels and Molly Hatchet. Rare photos, quotes from Southern Rock musicians, and a list of some 100 key moments in Southern rock history bring the era and its key peoples to life.
QUOTES ABOUT PRISONER OF SOUTHERN ROCK
“Great stories, well written and heartfelt. Prisoner of Southern Rock is an engaging and entertaining celebration of southern music, musicians and characters.”
- Chuck Leavell, musical director, The Rolling Stones
"From the first time I heard about Michael Buffalo Smith, I've been impressed with his dedication to preserving and promoting Southern music. His book is an interesting and insightful story of the musicians he's come to know and how he's enjoyed his journey."
- Johnny Sandlin, Producer (Allman Brothers, Elvin Bishop, Capricorn Records)
"Michael Buffalo Smith as a musician, writer, critic, and southern music historian really gets it. His taste and deep appreciation for the real thing are qualities that inspire all of us in his wake. And it's a big wake."
- Billy Bob Thornton
"At last! -- a memoir from Michael Buffalo Smith, who has lived and breathed Southern Rock since the genre's inception. Lock me up and throw away the key!"
-Marshall Chapman, Artist/Songwriter/Author
“If you think you know about Southern Rock Music, you might want to read Buffalo's book.Here's a guy who lives and breathes the subject. He not only listens and studies the genre, but is personally aqainted with most of the artists he writes about. He knows everything from their first musical notes to what they have for breakfast. Put on some Marshall Tucker and pull up a copy of Prisoner Of Southern Rock.”
- Paul Hornsby, Producer (The Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Capricorn Records)
"Michael Buffalo Smith serves up a heartwarming, yet candid look at his rise to become one of southern music's most beloved journalists, musicians, and radio personalities, with an inside look at some of the stars he's interviewed, played with, and befriended over the years. From cult heroes, to the brightest stars, stadiums to smokey bars, Michael delivers first hand, some of his most memorable encounters along the way, in the true, down home fashion he is known for. A MUST READ for any music fan!”
- John Galvin. Molly Hatchet
“Buffalo interviews the stars, and they’re human. He talks with the regular folks, and they’re stars. That is the heart of Buffalo’s rare talent, to see, and value, and celebrate all of the extraordinary people who cross his path, regardless of their packaging. At his core, he is a tireless fan, not only of the stars and big shots, but mostly of true human gifting, dressed in dusty overalls or rhinestones and sequins. It’s easy to understand why so many feel at home with Buffalo. He shines the spotlight of his generous appreciation wherever his truth compass points. – It is refreshing, encouraging, and empowering to remember the gift of authenticity lies within us all. It’s wonderful to know there are folks around like Buffalo who notice and appreciate and write about it.” - --Tom Wynn, Cowboy