- Jimmy Fontaine
Shooter Jennings @ The Bluebird Theater, Thursday, July 11, 8 p.m., 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, $25/adv, $27/door, ages 16+, 303/322-2308, bluebirdtheater.net
A local promoter once offered to book Shooter Jennings if the musician promised that his set would be all country-rock and “none of that weird stuff.” It was an unlikely proposition, given that the son of outlaw-country legends Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter turned out to be even more of an outlier than his parents.
While Jennings’ first three albums stayed close to the country-rock formula, and performed well on Billboard’s country charts, he subsequently plunged into the deep end of dystopia on his 2010 concept album Black Ribbons. With a sound that suggested Pink Floyd and Skinny Puppy more than it did Waylon & Willie, the album featured narrative segments in which Stephen King played the role of a conspiracy theorist radio host who, at album’s end, is killed on-air by the government. “I think the whole thing is a metaphor for how hard it’s been to get my voice heard,” Jennings told The Washington Post at the time. “Whether it’s a success or not, at the end of the day I know that I didn’t play by anyone’s expectations.” Over the past decade, that’s continued to be the case. In 2016, Jennings released an unlikely Giorgio Moroder tribute album, with guest vocals from Marilyn Manson and Brandi Carlile, which Consequence of Sound described as “metal-machine country.”
And, no, Jennings never did take the promoter up on that Colorado Springs gig, but his most recent album, Shooter, is his first straight-ahead country album since his 2005 debut, Put the “O” Back in Country. As for whether he’ll be performing much of the “weird stuff” on this tour, that’s for him to decide.