Real Country Music
ACL Live at the Moody Theater
Well…..it has taken this long to wrap my mind around the evening. For a month or so I had looked forward to an evening of what several have said was the next Country hope. I have all his records and have led more people to buy his records than local
I would think that his refusal to meet the press may not help his cause. My understanding, in talking to a few of Jamey’s employees, is that his refusal is based on some bad experiences on his initial radio tour. Besides Maxim and Playboy I have read few features.
However, he does have a way in creating a myth about himself. Having a scowling and gruff bodyguard (security) barking and staring down everyone near the stage probably helps in his marketing as an outlaw. (Not sure if the muscle was for Jamey or Matthew Mcconaughey or Jake Gyllenhaal (or as one venue security guy put it…”the gay guy from Brockeback)….both spotted backstage.) At least, it is in keeping with the stories of using armed men and armored vehicles to turn in his last album.
But I prefer the persona that he is the serious minded humble regular guy that comes across in his few TV appearances. That being the case, why wouldn’t I have looked forward to hearing some of the best and most meaningful music made recently delivered by a man somewhat cut from the common cloth?
The music began with Chris Hennessee playing a few numbers. For the most part it was just him and a guitar. For a few selections he was accompanied by fiddle or piano. The strongest being I’m Trying, an original that with resignation in his voice and his lone guitar sounded much better than his recorded release. Chris later added his harmonica to some of Jamey’s set.
For Jamey, it all started with Released, the intro to That Lonesome Song. The iron bars and announcement of being freed played while he strolled onto the stage. He then played the next four tracks from that album in order, minus Angel. As I started to think the set list was going to follow the entire sequencing of the album, Jamey switched to selections from The Guitar Song. Playing The Part, By The Seat Of Your Pants, Lonely At The Top, Poor Man Blues, Can’t Cash My Checks, and Macon were all included.
As good as these songs are, it is only honest of me to say that my favorites were never heard. Missing was the honesty and emotion that really sets Jamey apart. Cover Your Eyes, Baby Don’t Cry, Dog In the Yard, Thankful For The Rain (all from The Guitar Song) and Angel, or Mary Go Round (last two from That Lonesome Song) were all unheard. Who knows, maybe it’s the realism that brings their absence. I can understand not looking in a mirror for too long. But it is also why I’m a fan.
With the equivalent of four albums of tracks and many writing credits to choose from, at least a third of his catalogue was left untouched. In fact, not one single track from The Dollar, his first and vastly underrated album, was heard. And then the crowd, reported to be very small by venue personnel, were treated to covers. Come to find out Jamey is a fan Willie, Merle, and Waylon.
As Jamey and his band (essentially Hank Jr.’s backing band, the Bama Band) worked their way through the covers, I stepped away. At the bar you could see the doors, which a few people were beginning to use. Getting close enough to two sets of leavers, I said, loud enough for them to hear and full of praise, “Man, good show, huh?”
“Yeah, but we have these records…” one set replied.
To which the other set replied, “yeah and it’s getting late.”
I went back in and strolled around the large rectangular Moody Theater. I noticed people talking who were once singing along to his originals. It was clear that whatever moment that there was or might have been was over. Funny that as this thought struck me the band was covering Bob Seger’s Turn The Page.
(P.S. About the much heralded Moody Theater I say… “The Emperor Has No Clothes”)