Monday, January 26, 2015

Shooter Jennings & Waymore's Outlaws/Outland Ballroom/Springfield, Mo

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:

Friday, January 2, 2015

On Being a Fan

I'm a music fan.
A fangirl.
Almost Famous? That's my jam.

Every serious music lover feels like they are "better than the average fan."
You're singing along with every song. Not just the singles.
You aren't at the show to be seen or to look cool or to get laid.
You're at the show because live music gives you a high no drug ever could.
Goosebumps. Tears. 
You're at the show because this is the only time you feel like you can truly be understood.
The only time you feel free.

Even with my inflated fan-ego, I have always thought there was something wrong with being "just a fan." It has always been my goal to be a part of the world inhabited by these people who fuel my passion.

But chasing what I thought was my dream to work a little closer to the magical music industry has made me realize there's nothing wrong with being a fan.

Musicians are just people. They are not gods. (No, not even Myles Kennedy) They are just really talented dudes or chicks who are lucky and blessed enough to play music for a living.

But, he's pretty damn close.
 And now more than ever--they know they need to appreciate us.

The music industry is changing. Bands aren't making money selling albums.

SO--those of us who are dedicated enough to still buy CD's, road-trip to shows, buy shirts, or even spend a chunk of our paycheck to talk to a band for 60 seconds--we are the reason our favorite bands can continue to rock.

Hey Mark! Hey Scott! Hey Brian! Hey Myles! I just paid good money to wear my new push-up bra in front of you.

In the hard rock/metal world, Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold might be the last bands we'll see that can fill arenas. Mid-sized venues are likely to end up being the name of the game. VIP events, meet and greets, and post-show signings are going to be necessary for additional revenue streams. These things are also a way to maintain fan loyalty in a world ran by social media, where there's no longer a flavor of the month, but a flavor of the second.
Artists are using social media to let fans "in" on their lives. Behind the scenes pics and videos have put a big hole in that wall that separated fans from the artists' locker room. Musicians realize they have to give us a little peek to keep us interested and loyal.

Bands are saying, "hey, you  are a part of our success...let's go on this journey together." Halestorm, specifically Lzzy, does an excellent job with this.

This ridiculous blog even lets me connect with artists and fellow fans of the music I love. That's pretty freaking sweet.

It takes more effort to support a band now than it did 20 years ago when all you had to do was buy a CD. Artists aren't on a pedestal of platinum records. Many of them probably aren't making that much more money than we are.

What if the music industry wasn't changing? If bands could still make millions on album sales alone, and didn't have to spend their afternoons meeting dorks like me instead of partying or sleeping or eating hummus (seriously--every tour rider EVER-- hummus)...would there be anything wrong with being "just a fan?"

No! It took me working at a concert venue to see that. A show is nothing without diehard fans. The bands making music for the right reason plug in and connect to the audience and know for that hour and a half, we are all part of this insanely cool family, connected in a way no one else in the world can understand.

I'm sure there are artists who don't get that. Maybe some of my favorites are just really good at faking. Maybe Myles Kennedy went backstage after one of the four times I saw him in 2014 and said--"That silly blonde girl with the tattoos was there again. What a goofball."

No, really, What a goofball.

If that's the case, that's their problem, not mine. Life is too short to not embrace the things that make me happy. I'd rather be too passionate and give something all the love and appreciation I have to spare than to hold back and regret not enjoying myself. I've wasted too much of my life holding back.

I am going to start wearing my fan status proudly. I may feel kinda weird telling even a local band I loved their set...but I don't recall ever getting mad after being complimented. I'm sure dudes who can shred on the guitar feel the same way.

Fellow fans--we make the world go 'round for our favorite bands. But if you meet one of your idols: don't make it weird. Be cool.


Mrs. W.