Well, tonight I saw the future of country music and his name is Jamey Johnson. I just came back from the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida where I saw Jamey open for Willie Nelson.
If you are reading this blog, you know that I have gone crazy for Johnson's music. When I first heard him in early December, I was immediately impressed with his songwriting. His songs have a real connection back to the best work of Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard.
Seeing him live tonight only confirmed what I have been saying. Besides being one of the best songwriters working in Nashville today, he has the stage presence of a super star. Johnson is a big man and he is riveting on stage. All of his songs sound great live. Listening to him sing, I thought I was hearing Waylon Jennings before he snorted his voice away.
His band is outstanding. The keyboards were good. The steel player was terrific and the rhythm section was rock solid. The lead guitar doesn't look like any country player I have ever seen, but he played some tasty guitar. He also sang some nice harmony with Jamey.
In a 30 minute set, he hit most of the high spots from That Lonesome Song. He opened with High Cost of Living which has to be one of the best country songs every written about the dark side of drugs. Check out these lyrics:
That southern baptist parking lot
Was where I'd go to smoke my pot
Sit there in my pickup truck and pray
And staring at that giant cross
Just reminds me that I was lost
And it never seemed to point the way
I tell you the high cost of living ain't nothing like the cost of living high
He also played Mary Go Round, In Color, Mowin Down The Roses as well as my favorite Place Out On the Ocean. Each song was tasteful executed by the band and well sung by Johnson. The crowd got pretty excited by the end of the set. I think there were a few people like myself who were there specifically to see Jamey.
At the risk of having Texas lightning strike me dead, I have to confess that I didn't even stay for Willie's set. I was so happy after seeing Jamey play for 30 minutes, I gave my ticket away and went to the house.
If you don't own That Lonesome Song, you are missing the best country album released in a very long time. Available on iTunes and from Amazon. Buy it, please.