A few months ago Shooter Jennings stopped in St. Louis for a show at the Old Rock House. I was there to snap some photos for a future painting. Not familiar with Shooter’s music, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised with his tunes and the crack band he had playing with him. Everyone there had a great time and he's genuinely a nice guy with a good following of fans.
When I started the painting I was listening to some of his songs but then slowly started to move on to some other country tunes by the likes of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and yes, Shooter’s famous father Waylon Jennings. It’s been a long time since I’ve really sat down and listened to some country music. It’s not that I don’t like it, I really love it but usually my preference is for Rock and Roll. After going through a few Johnny Cash albums, I started in on Waylon and I was surprised at how many tunes I knew. That got me thinking about other country musicians like George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Jerry Reed, etc. In our modern age we can simply type in a musician or band on the computer and queue up some tunes, so I did. I was astonished, I knew so many songs by these musicians but I haven’t listened to them in years. I started thinking about it and realized that when I was young, 6, 7 and 8 years old, this was about the only music I ever heard. Growing up in Southeast Missouri in the late 70s/early 80s gives you little options as to what type of music everyone is going to be listening to. And thankfully for me it was these artists and their tunes.
Especially when I was hanging out with my grandmother. She always had the radio on or the TV tuned to country music videos and she loved all these musicians. She also came of age in the 50s and loved the Rock and Roll of that time, Elvis, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, etc. When you think about it, there’s not much difference between the rockers of the 50s and the country stars a few decades later. Hell, Waylon Jennings was in Buddy Holly’s last band. So, for me, they all go together very well and their music was always played in my grandmother’s house. This is how I know all these tunes, it wasn’t by choice but I’m sure glad it happened that way. It’s some of the greatest music ever created.
In the early 00s Willie Nelson played two shows at Mississippi Nights. The two shows sold out quickly but not before I was able to snag 3 tickets for my grandmother, her friend and myself. The day of the show we stood in the long line waiting to get in. I had been use to standing in the Mississippi Nights’ line before but this time I was with my grandmother and I could tell her and her friend were a little uncomfortable but they never complained once and you could tell how excited they were. I was a bit nervous cause I knew how hard it could be to get a good seat in MN and I wanted them to be able to enjoy the show while sitting down and still see everything. The doors finally opened and as soon as we got in the doors, I told them to hang on to my shirt and follow close by. I made a beeline for the seating area just left of the stage. I was able to grab 3 seats in the second row of chairs they had set up. The view was perfect. We could see everything and when Willie came out and started up with “Whiskey River” the entire place erupted with cheers. It was my most favorite concert at Mississippi Nights and it means even more to me since my grandmother was there also.
So, here I am, the child of real country music fans painting the child of a real country music star.
now playing - "Goin' Down Rockin'"