If it did, it wasn’t apparent. Instead, Shooter and his talented band treated us to a 21 song set that rarely took its foot off the accelerator. Opening with “Bound To Get Down” off his newest album, Shooter, Jennings focused heavily on that album’s material, playing all but two songs from it. The new album served as a rare return to the “outlaw” form that was unquestionably successful for Jennings on his debut, “Putting the ‘O’ Back in Country.” I’m not sure it’s a genre that Jennings is really comfortable with, despite being key to its revitalization via his debut. Perhaps the best statement to that end could be found in the evening’s passionate recital of “Gunslinger” from 2013’s The Other Life. With its direct and to the point verses of “But don’t call an outlaw no I’m a motherfucking gunslinger” and “Some people think they know me Think they can predict me Think they gotta dis me,” Jennings lays it all on the table. For those that were hoping for a Waylon song, they got one with the deeper cut “Belle of the Ball,” which was just about perfect. There was also the stellar rendition of George Jones’ “The Door” that along with his own Jones inspired “Living in a Minor Key” were definite standouts.
Jennings also delivered some obvious crowd favorites. “4th of July,” and “Steady at the Wheel” were represented, but perhaps my favorite song of the night proved to be an emotive, poignant version of “All Of This Could Have Been Yours” that just left me emotionally drained at its conclusion. It really was that good. Jennings spent the evening splitting time between his Telecasters and the keys, though he seems most comfortable at the latter. The band supporting Jennings is without question one of the best in the business. Featuring longtime collaborator Ted Russell Kamp on bass and vocals, John Schreffler on guitar and vocals, Aubrey Richmond on violin and vocals and Jamie Douglass holding down the drums, the band allowed Jennings to shine and do what he does best. Entertain.
The support for the evening consisted of two out standing Texas based songwriters in their own right. First up, saw the Tower return of Joshua Ray Walker. Walker last opened for Colter Wall just prior to his debut album, “Wish You Were Here” being released. Playing solo, Walker’s mix of sad honky-tonk songs and sly humor did a fine job of setting the tone of the evening. Walker also debuted two new songs that he’s been working on for a followup recording. Tentatively titled, “I Can’t Do Much For Too Long,” and “How Long,” I found both songs quite impressive. Based on these two, Walker’s next album could really be something special, and one to watch for. Next up was Vincent Neil Emerson, an East Texas native now in Ft. Worth, and classic honky-tonk styled crooner. Also a veteran of supporting tours with his friend Colter Wall, Emerson has also been featured in Jason Momoa’s “On The Roam” and “Garden and Gun magazine. Emerson is currently wrapping up work on his debut release, and based on the material he presented here, it’s going to be a barn burner. Adding to the fun of the evening, Joshua Ray Walker handled electric guitar duties for Emerson and band, and while he was recruited somewhat unexpectedly, he handled the task admirably.
All things considered it was another outstanding night of music at the Tower, and I can’t wait for the next one.