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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Show Pick of the Day: Jamey Johnson at the 40 Watt Club


Jamey Johnson just reeks “bad ass.” He’s far from the contrived cowboy Nashville spits out all too often, and more like your backwoods uncle who’s been there, done that—a few times.

This outlaw knows a thing or two about life, and isn’t shy about telling ya ‘bout it. In “High Cost of Living,” a tune about the toll drugs took on his life, Johnson becomes transparent:

“That southern Baptist parking lot
Is where I’d go to smoke my pot
Sit there in my pickup truck and pray
Staring at that giant cross
Just reminded me that I was lost
And it just never seemed to point the way”

Not surprisingly, he cites Hank Williams Jr. and the band Alabama as his most influential predecessors. Johnson learned to play the guitar when most people were still learning simple division. At age 10, his uncle taught him how to play Alabama’s “My Home’s in Alabama,” and a southern rebel was born.

He soon added his cool, baritone voice to Old Maple — the name he gave to his first guitar-- and began playing gigs in Montgomery, Ala. His college career was short lived --dropping out after just two years, and he spent the following eight in the Marine Corps Reserve.

After using the time in the Marine Corps to refine his southern style, he was discharged the same week the rest of his unit was sent to Iraq—some call it fate.

Johnson moved to Nashville, Tenn. in 2000 and kept afloat by doing odd jobs and working for a construction company. His nights were reserved for open mic nights where he sang and met other songwriters. He would sing demos (along with then demo-singer Gretchen Wilson) of the songs other songwriters had gotten published. It was then that he met producer Buddy Cannon, and the rest was history. The two landed Johnson a publishing deal, Johnson was the co-writer on Trace Adkins’ “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” In 2005, after auditioning seven times, country singing received his first record deal with RCA Records.

He now is signed with Mercury Nashville. His persistence has paid off, That Lonesome Song, is certified gold and has produced two hit singles, “In Color” and “High Cost of Living.”

Tonight, he’s playing a gig at the 40 Watt Club to a sold-out crowd who’ll get a good dose of life, Jamey Johnson style.

--Ashley Thompson

Currently listening to “High Cost of Living” by Jamey Johnson

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