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. (368 pages with photos)
With a foreword by Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Billy Bob Thorton
“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
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.
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 troubadour 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.