Thursday, June 1, 2017

Billy Joe Shaver at Hill Country Barbecue Market

Billy Joe Shaver was born in Corsicana, Texas, and as a boy sometimes accompanied his mother to her job at a local nightclub, where he listened to country music. Working at a lumber mill, one day his right hand (his dominant hand) became caught in the machinery, and he lost the better part of two fingers. He eventually taught himself to play the guitar without those missing fingers. In 1966, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where two years later he worked as a songwriter for $50 per week. Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Bobby Bare, the Allman Brothers Band, and Elvis Presley  recorded his songs over time, but Waylon Jennings recorded nine Shaver songs on  his breakthrough 1973 album Honky Tonk Heroes, largely considered the first outlaw country music album. That same year, Shaver began a solo career. His 17th and most recent studio album is 2014's Long in the Tooth. He currently lives in Waco, Texas.

Shaver had to cancel a couple of show in April due to heart problems, but despite death-bed rumors at the time, the 77-year-old singer/songwriter seemed better than new tonight at Hill Country Barbecue Market. He told the audience that he would perform songs that he had written throughout his career, and then proceeded to sing close to 40 of them. He sang with limited range and he barely played guitar, letting his longtime guitarist, Jeremy Woodall, do the musical heavy lifting, but the set demonstrated some of the rudimentary elements that ultimately defined outlaw country music. Shaver's combination of clever songwriting, unpolished vocal delivery, and country melodies, especially embellished with Woodhall's rocking guitar leads, were electrifying. Few of the original outlaw country artists are still performing, so Shaver's "Live Forever" was particularly poignant. May his music live forever!

Visit Billy Joe Shaver at www.billyjoeshaver.com.