I've been a Shooter Jennings fan for nearly a decade. His first two albums, Put the O Back in Country and Electric Rodeo are really great pieces of raw, southern rock music. His work since then has been hit or miss for me, but Jennings seems to have gone back to his musical sweet spot with his most recent releases.
|Shooter Jennings with Waymore's Outlaws|
Right now, Jennings is touring with Waymore's Outlaws--a band of guys who played with Shooter's father Waylon Jennings. That alone was enough to get me to buy a ticket to their January 23 show at Springfield's Outland Ballroom.
The evening started off with Justice Adams Band. I really enjoy this local act. After seeing them live, I'm convinced they could hold their own in the Red Dirt scene. Justice Adams Band brought catchy melodies, solid playing, and fun, well written songs to their set. I will definitely pay to see these guys again.
|Justice Adams Band. Probably singing about Whiskey.|
Billy Berry Band followed. Though it looked to me like the "band" was only one guy. I have to admit I didn't see his whole set, because, well, I'm old, expected the night to be longer, and wanted to sit down. But I caught the tail end of a cover of Merle Haggard's Workin' Man Blues, so the dude's alright in my book.
Next, Waymore's Outlaws gave us the gift of about a half-hour set of Waylon songs, with Tommy Townsend on guitar and lead vocals. Townsend definitely had the Waylon look down--hat, sunglasses, and beard. Hearing I've Always Been Crazy, Good Hearted Woman, and Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way, played by musicians who actually toured with Waylon Jennings was a bit surreal for a Waylon fan like myself.
|Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way opened the set|
|The Outlaws' drummer is Waylon's ORIGINAL drummer. He's been playing for 50 years, and has also worked with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.|
There's a reason Waylon is considered a legend and his songs are considered classics. This music is just good. Simply having a steel guitar in the mix elevates anything to a tune that's going to touch your soul. The blues-meets-country guitar licks, and driving, foot-stomping beats make these timeless tunes great. Shooter's strongest stuff has similar qualities, and he filled his time with those songs.
Shooter, backed by the Outlaws opened up his set with one of my favorite Waylon tunes, Ain't Livin' Long Like This. The opening line, "I looked for trouble and I found it son/Straight down the barrel of a lawman's gun," has to be the most badass way a song has ever started. Shooter would revisit his daddy's music again during the short set with Waymore's Blues.
|You can really see Tommy Townsend rocking the Waylon look in this pic.|
I say the set was short because I'm a big enough Shooter Jennings fan, I think he could fill up an epic marathon gig, no problem. Jennings sang some songs from his most recent releases, including The Outsider, Hard Lesson to Learn, and Nashville From Afar. He also rocked Don't Wait Up, I'm Playing Possum, from a George Jones tribute EP Jennings made not long ago.
The set finished up after about an hour. It became obvious then that I'm not the only one who's a bigger fan of Shooter's earlier work. Gone to Carolina and Some Rowdy Women caught the attention of even the people in the audience who had seemed more interested in taking selfies and fighting up until then.
The fun ended with, of course, Shooter's biggest hit, Fourth of July. I absolutely love this song. I adore singing it with a room full of people who I assume, like me, have some closely held memories and emotions that are brought back with the tune.
For my fellow Shooter fans who only know songs from his first two albums, I urge you to give his latest full length offerings, Family Man and The Other Life a listen. There are some solid, raw and real jams on those discs. The Real Me, Long Road Ahead (check this one out below), Manifesto No. 4, Southern Family Anthem, (from Family Man) along with Hard Lesson to Learn, The White Trash Song, Outlaw You, The Low Road, and Mama It's Just My Medicine (from The Other Life) definitely have the same edgy, rocking country, mixed with emotion only a misunderstood son of an outlaw legend can bring: