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38 Special came to play at Pala

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

During the 38 Special concert Oct. 14 at Pala Casino's Events Center, lead singer Don Barnes noted, "It's Friday night. It's a celebration. We came to play." The band did indeed play that night.

The concert lasted 88 minutes not including a one-minute break prior to the encore. During that time the band played 23 songs.

"Thank you for taking the ride through the years with us," Barnes said.

Barnes was with the band when they formed in 1974. The first 38 Special album was released in 1977. During the 1980s, the band had 11 songs which peaked in the top 10 of the mainstream rock genre. "Hold On Loosely," which was played during the encore Oct. 14, was the first of those. "Caught Up in You," which was also performed at Pala, was the first 38 Special song to reach #1 in the genre.

Not all of the songs performed Oct. 14 were from 38 Special albums. Jerry Riggs has been the lead guitar player since 2019. As lead singer for the band, Riggs had the songs "Radar Rider" and "Heartbeat" in the 1981 movie Heavy Metal, and 38 Special took advantage of Riggs' presence to add "Radar Rider" to the 38 Special songs which have ended up on movie soundtracks.

The co-founders of 38 Special include not only Barnes but also Donnie Van Zant, whose older brother was a co-founder of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd and whose younger brother later joined Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Van Zant retired in 2013 due to health reasons and, other than Barnes, the current 38 Special member who has been with the band the longest is keyboardist Bobby Capps, who joined 38 Special in 1987. Gary Moffatt, the drummer, has been part of the band since 1997. The current bassist, Barry Dunaway, replaced long-time bassist Larry Junstrom in 2014.

Barnes, who is now 69 years old, also plays the guitar. He and the rest of the band were prepared to entertain Pala that night. While the other musicians were also showcased when appropriate, he didn't need to take breaks to drink water nor did he let the other musicians take over and rest himself. Barnes did indeed come to play along with the rest of 38 Special.


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