Detroit, Michigan (April 19, 2019) – As a kid, Jamey Johnson was forbidden to handle his dad’s guitar.
“It was probably just an old cheap pawn shop guitar, but man, he babied the hell out of it,” Johnson recalls. “I wasn’t allowed to touch it until I learned how to play.”
Once he knew how, the aspiring country singer visited a music shop in his native Montgomery, Ala., and tried every guitar hanging on the wall. He fell for an Epiphone acoustic-electric, which would become his trusty sidekick. That was more than 20 years ago.
Jamey Johnson, who headlined The Fillmore Detroit Saturday on a tour sponsored by SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country channel, still plays the big guitar he calls Old Maple. Now, it’s covered with the signatures of many of the musical greats he’s befriended — Willie Nelson, Neil Young, the late Merle Haggard. Since his emergence in the mid-2000s, Johnson has joined the tradition, singing with and paying tribute to his forebears and writing sturdy, no-nonsense songs of his own that practically define the idea of “outlaw” country.
From the instant classic “In Color,” which imagines an old man walking his grandson through his life in a few black-and-white photos, to “The Dollar,” “High Cost of Living,” and “Between Jennings and Jones,” Johnson has taken his place as an unmistakable voice of country music — somewhere, as the lyric goes, between Waylon Jennings and George Jones. And he’s done it in a mere four proper studio albums, which he relied heavily upon during his 1 hour and 45 minute set in Detroit. Mixed masterfully between his own music were 8 covers from some of the biggest stars from the country genre. Reed, Whitley and Williams, they were all here, only now with their music living on through Johnson’s unique vocal style.
To be frank, Jamey Johnson’s’ music is not for everyone, nor is his live performance. If you’re a fan of “modern country,” you would be wise to spend your money elsewhere. But, if you yearn for that classic country “Outlaw” sound along with lyrics that tell a story of the trial and tribulations of life, Johnson is your must see artist. He is a gift to Americana that beckons back to a time that has past most of us by. Haggard, Jennings and Jones better take note, there is a new Outlaw in town and he goes by the name Jamey Johnson.