Written by Samuel Barker
Apr 05, 2006 at 08:00 PM
ImageOne of the great things about music is there is always something happening in the underground. While country music has devoled into a small group of songwriters mass-producing pop songs for some pretty faces to sing through Protools, people like Shooter Jennings have been working to keep outlaw country and southern rock alive and well.

Through his satellite radio show, Shooter has provided an avenue for his contemporaries to get their music found and to combat the corporatization that is sucking the soul out of the country world. The show, Electric Rodeo, which is also the name of Shooter’s new album, is definitely worth hearing.

The first thing people notice is that Shooter is the son of country legend Waylon Jennings. What is somewhat perverse about all this is that the son of one of the pioneers who brought country music to the mainstream is now fighting to bring respectability back to the genre. Despite starting in a hard rock band, Stargunn, Jennings has found his home in the alt country/southern rock realm with Electric Rodeo.

The outlaw country spirit is definitely there. The country leads and backup instrumentation lend the sound to the country world, while the guitars handle the rest. Shooter has embraced his daddy’s music and his own. Rather than using his heritage as a crutch, he used it as a stepping stone to find his own sound. A sound that is missing from today’s landscape. Good country music is no longer a relic for special features on CMT, it’s in the clubs and on the road now.

Though songs like Busted in Baylor Country and Manifesto No. 2, Shooter and his band, the 357s, brought the country vibes, while songs like Electric Rodeo showed the rock edge at it’s finest. Shooter even mellowed out the mood on acoustic with my favorite song of the night, Some Rowdy Women.

Throughout the night, Shooter showed his various talents. He played keyboard on a couple songs, as well as guitar on the same songs. It was clear rather quickly how talented Shooter was as a songwriter, performer and musician. The set flowed well, the sound was great and the audience had a blast. Is there anything else you need from a concert?

While other country revivalists take a more tongue and cheek look at the genre harping more on the cliches, Shooters songs come a more realistic, biographical sense. If you need to compare him to other country greats’ children, think more along the lines of a Bobby Bare, Jr., who has found his own niche than Hank III who seems to be happy reproducing his grandfather’s sound.

Shooter Jennings and the 357s will be coming through Houston on July 8th w/ Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Woodlands Pavilion, be sure to check it out and do something to keep real country music from permanently going over to the pop artists. Til next time…