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Steady at the Wheel: Shooter Jennings & Friends @ Loaded, 2/12/14

There comes certain junctures in life where parts of your past becomes a stranger, sometimes a welcome one; at other times, unwanted.  As I stepped out of an uber and across the star-strewn street and through the Marshall-stacked, smoke-filled room and through the metal shirt wearing, long haired, chained wallet,  disenchanted contingency, I couldn’t believe how much time I used to put in here and at The Rainbow.  Misery loves company.  But as I found the new small show room of Loaded, and spotted Shooter Jennings, it was a comforting site.  I couldn’t believe it had been nearly 5 years since I’d seen him play.  The spawn of Outlaw Country sect is one I’ve followed closely; it speaks to me.

I can remember the first time I saw him, opening for Willie Nelson at The Backyard in Austin in 2004; I heard rock riffs and country licks meld together…”Let’s Put the ‘O’ Back in Country”?  OK!  Who is this?  And when I found out, it all made sense.  And then I saw him tons of times after that.

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The long, narrow space was packed with a crowd varied in age, genre tastes, attire, and gender.  After a couple of unremarkable opening acts, Shooter took the stage with his mother, Jessi Colter, long-time bassist Ted Russel Kamp,  Jason Sutter- drummer for Marilyn Manson, and a guitarist who’s name I didn’t catch.  The vibe of the set was similar to Tom Morello’s Justice Tour shows or Camp Freddy, that tight-but-loose anything can happen feeling, though on the looser side for sure.  Shooter’s mom was quick to say that she had just received a call from her son to participate, and while her time at the keyboard and mic seemed especially shaky, she made up for it in charisma.  She shared a song she wrote for Waylon, cementing the intimate tone for the night.

Once Shooter took the helm, familiar favorites started to roll.  While I was used to seeing him on the big stage, with a vibrant, full sound- though, back in the beginning, sometimes so drunk he was practically propped up (as was I)- this set made up for it in authenticity.  The faceless, bigger venue gave way to a bar crowd feel where music like this was born.  The perfect execution of song succumbed to heart and attitude.  When I see someone like Shooter, it reminds me of where I came from, and that it’s ok to be different from the way I was raised.  His music is country through the lens of someone who grew up in the grunge and industrial rock era, and has managed to imbue elements of this into his music.  He’s even working with Marilyn Manson.

The night ebbed and flowed from 8pm to who knows when, as by 11 I was turning into a pumpkin and left Shooter and one of his many special guests to continue playing to the increasingly inebriated crowd.  They were serving moonshine that night…

Busted in LA County with Shooter Jennings and TwangNation, January 2013

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