A good ol’ time was had at Shooter Jennings show
By Jasmine Rogers
Ten-gallon hats bobbed up and down on the crowded floor of The Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta, Ohio, their wearers fortified by beer on a cold January night and thus getting more and more confident in their sways as the songs of Waylon Jennings played on.
Though he wears his hair a bit longer and trims a beard a bit shorter than his dad typically did, Shooter Jennings – belting out Waylon’s songs behind dark sunglasses in a dark room – could almost be mistaken for his father circa 1975. It also doesn’t hurt that a couple of the musicians backing Shooter toured with his dad for decades, including Richie Albright, Waylon’s original drummer (and from whom Shooter, born Waylon Albright Jennings, takes his middle name).
It’s admittedly Waylon’s iconic outlaw country tunes that many of the swaying cowboys probably turned out to see Jan. 28, and – as evidenced by the increasingly enthusiastic dancing – they weren’t disappointed. But Shooter has forged a musical path of his own, sometimes paralleling his father’s husky country songs but just as often exploring other genres. When Shooter played The Adelphia, he made men in camouflage caps bop around to a Ramones cover, a mesmerizing sight indeed.
But let’s back up.
Shooter, backed by his father’s Waymore’s Outlaws, performed to a packed house at The Adelphia on Jan. 29 along with opening act Joshua Morningstar.
Morningstar’s country roots – Hagerstown, Maryland – are perhaps a bit quizzical. But don’t let that fool you. As Morningstar sits on a kick drum, simultaneously playing it and his guitar, he belts out a commendable array of Hank Williams Sr. and Johnny Cash before wrapping up with a rowdy and acerbic rendition of Billie Gant’s “Stop F***ing Up Country Music”.
Send all them pretty boys home indeed.
Before Shooter himself took the stage, Waymore’s Outlaws, fronted by Tommy Townsend, started building the energy with a few Waylon classics: “Rainy Day Woman”, “Luckenbach Texas”, and Good Hearted Woman”.
After two sets heavy with covers, Shooter would have been (within his rights) to start his own set with some original material.
But with his father’s backing band in tow, Shooter perhaps predicted that the audience was more familiar with his father’s work. Before the crowd’s beers really set in, Shooter appeased them by leading the band through some more of his father’s tunes-“Waymore’s Blues, “I Ain’t Living Long Like This”, “Black Rose” – before moving on to his own.
From his own repertoire, Shooter introduced the now increasingly rowdy crowd to his latest single, “Nashville From Afar,” which skews the mainstream Nashville music establishment over a fun honky-tonk sound.
Perhaps in the spirit of anti-establishment that Shooter, like his father, has come to represent, a nice fist fight broke out in the audience somewhere into the set. Other anti-establishment minds seemed to go in a more peaceful direction, and the smell of something herbal began to permeate the Adelphia audience as Shooter shifted into some more laid back tunes – “Gone to Carolina” and “Some Rowdy Woman” – from his sophomore release.
All in all, I think the crowd got what they came to see – a solid country act that shirks the homogenized over-produced current country standards. And the crowd celebrated in the way any respectable outlaw would, fightin’ and debauchin’ the whole night through.