INSITE MAGAZINE – live review
By John Davisson
November 17, 2009
Last week I went country for two nights in north Florida, just before my hippie jam weekend and shortly after my metal weekend. Lately country music seems to be kicking rock down the road as there are so many country artists selling out the large arenas and selling tons of records. It’s really no wonder; the songs offer a positive message and the music is great and varied. It’s no longer the traditional sounds with the "tear in my beer" lyrics. With so much negativity in the world, people are hungry for a positive message that emphasizes the attitudes that make America great, and no music is more American than country.
While rock is filled with noodlers whining about things or depressingly shoe-gazing on stage, or angry punks and metalheads, country artists unashamedly cheer for God, guns, love, family, apple pie and America. The singers croon about things worth believing in, not empty distractions: sex, drugs and rock and roll. Some of the songs tackle issues with solutions on a personal level that connect with people, while others are celebratory like rock used to be. The shows have nice productions that can rival any arena rock show, and country artists often cover rock anthems from the past that connect to their fans in a way that the current poptarts couldn’t comprehend. While rock stars complacently relaxed, country music grabbed the spotlight.
The first show I saw was the CMT on Tour '09: Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser at Maverick’s, a yuppie honkytonk on the Landing in Jacksonville. Randy was as much rock as country and is an up-and-coming country singer. His opening set was a high-energy affair.
Jamey Johnson has written numerous country hits and probably could have stayed in the background cashing royalty checks but he recently struck out on his own with hits like “In Color,” and “High Cost of Living.” His stage presence was much more low-key compared to Randy, but by the end of the night it was clear he belonged onstage, not backstage.
His set included his hits and he brought his sister onstage during “In Color” as the fans sang the lyrics back to him. He stopped his show at one point because he thought security was ejecting a fan that walked into the security pit at his behest. It turned out she wasn’t being ejected but it was nice that he stood up for her.
After Jamey finished his set, Randy joined him onstage and the honkytonkin’ continued as they performed a whole set of covers together. Some of the covers were obscure, some were hits but they all were intense and showed how the artists were in the business to play. The best ones I remember were from country and rock: “The South’s Gonna Do It Again” (Charlie Daniels Band) and “Turn the Page” (Bob Seger). I was slightly familiar with Jamey and Randy, and after seeing them I now consider myself a big fan.