Written by James Killen
May 30, 2013 at 07:00 PM
ImageBilly Joe Shaver headlined the latest installment of Discovery Green’s Thursday night concert series. He brought his high octane back-up band with Jeremy Woodall on guitar, Matt Davis on bass and Jason McKenzie on drums, which is the line-up that he’s been touring with for the last couple of years. The band coasted to a start with “Fit to Kill and Going Out in Style”, but wasted no time in getting to the bawdy honky-tonk style that is Billy Joe Shaver.

Mr. Shaver introduced “Heart of Texas” with a story of losing his virginity to a professional lady from the other side of the tracks as a young man. It was a story that in addition to being from another time, probably should have been told in another place as Discovery Green had a lawn full of onlookers including a number of families. Not to be slowed down, though, the band followed up with mega-hits “Georgia on a Fast Train” and “Honky-Tonk Heroes”.

Just when parents thought it was safe to take their hands from their children’s ears, Billy Joe, offered up the inherently suggestive “That’s What She Said Last Night” and “The Devil Made Me Do it the First Time”. Shaver sealed the “R” rating for the evening by introducing the song “Wacko from Waco”, telling the story for his little run in with the law for shooting a fellow after a show. The story tells his side, saying that the other guy shot at him three times before Billy Joe pulled his little pistol and shot him right between his mother and his “F” word in the mouth.

ImageNothing was said during the show, that kids wouldn’t see on most TV networks these days, but Discovery Green is billed as a family venue. Nothing said during the show took away from the performance either, as Shaver’s band is first rate. He moved onward with the religious side of his personality doing “Old Chunk of Coal” and a spoken word recitation of “Star in my Heart” dedicated to his son Eddie that dies of a drug overdose in 2000.

Billy Joe flapped his wings on his way to Heaven, singing “When Fallen Angels Fly”, followed immediately by “I’m Gonna Live Forever”. Woodall flashed a kicking guitar solo on “Hottest Thing in Town” and Jason McKenzie played an extended drum solo on “When the Word was Thunderbird”, the band leaving him alone on the stage.

The band came back to the stage to perform “Love is so Sweet”, “Ride Me Down Easy” and “If at First You Don’t Succeed” before closing out with “You Can’t Beat Jesus Christ”. Billy Joe Shaver and band did a great job of putting out a great sampling of the prolific song book that Shaver has created over the years with twang and finesse. It wouldn’t have disappointed any die hard honky-tonk fan, but next year parents should be aware, this is real honky-tonk music with all of the trappings.

ImageBrennen Leigh opened up for Billy Joe Shaver at the “Green” on this evening and I was excited to see her. I’ve seen her name around town for several years and heard good things about her. I was the opposite of disappointed with what I saw Thursday night.

Her voice and music came from an Appalachian folk style and the lyrics were witty and poignant. She was joined on stage by Noel McKay on Telecaster and Melissa Carper (of the Carper Family) on stand-up bass. She has two records out, “Too Thin to Plow” and “The Box” and has a third disc being produced by Gurf Morlix called, “Before the World was Made” that is due out by fall.

They played a number of songs from each of those discs including, “Backsliding Blues” and “Let’s Go to Lubbock on Vacation”. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity I have to see Ms. Leigh and friends.