One of contemporary country’s greats makes his way to Idaho – in his prime, no less – and I couldn’t be happier that I attended. This was a fantastic beginning to the greatest live music month of my life – so far.
Opener: Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives
Marty is still at it, crooning in those black leather pants and that big (now silver) hair. His backing band lived up to their name and during their set each member performed lead vocals to a song they had written. The fact that Marty Stuart, a legend in his own right, was opening for Chris tells you something about the current hierarchy of country music and how high Mr. Stapleton has risen.
Headliner: Chris Stapleton
Don’t let Chris’s meager discography fool you. Although he only has two albums under his belt (2017’s From a Room was a double album released a few months apart and was my #2 album of that year), they are both excellent records and make clear that he is not new to this. In fact, he was writing songs and playing session guitar for other, more popular “country” artists for a decade before deciding to make a solo career of it. I firmly contend that without guys like him and Mr. Simpson, country music as we know it would years ago been completely swallowed by the pop influences that have been working their way into Nashville like a noxious weed in your finely manicured yard.
Chris is something altogether refreshing: earnest, sincere, mega-talented, and seemingly enjoying every minute of what has been quite a roller coaster ride for the man these last few years. Modern country music has few artists who write the vast majority of their own songs, let alone play the lead guitar (or in many cases, do more than dance on stage with one strapped over their shoulder). Chris does both of these things, and has a voice that is part Travis Tritt, part southern honky-tonk, and part space alien. Nothing taken away from his band, but Chris was the star of the show. In other words, this man is absolutely legit and for two hours he rocked us, made (some of) us cry, and basically kept everyone enthralled and in awe of what we were seeing right before our eyes. Also, as you can see, the stage setup was truly beautiful.
When he opened up with “Midnight to Memphis”, I could tell by the end of the first verse that this was going to be fucking epic. At no point during his 21-song set (which featured opener Marty Stuart joining him for two songs) did I waver from borderline hysteria at just how incredible Chris is. A genuine talent and a man I hope will come back to our little village in the next few years. If you are lucky enough to see that he is coming anywhere near your town, get your ass a ticket quick.
Before the show closer “Sometimes I Cry” (a downright powerful song about coping with sadness that really allows Chris to yell his heart out), he informed us that he had attended his grandmother’s funeral in Kentucky that very afternoon, flying to Boise just in time to make the show. He thanked us for being so positive and fun throughout the show and for helping take his mind off of that sadness for a couple hours. A song as passionate as “Sometimes I Cry” must be tough to give 100% to every night, but on this evening there was no question that he had plenty of sincere inspiration.
Midnight Train to Memphis
Nobody to Blame
Might As Well Get Stoned
Scarecrow in the Garden
Now That’s Country (with Marty Stuart)
Honky Tonkin’s What I Do Best (with Marty Stuart)
Whiskey and You
Second One to Know
I Was Wrong
The Devil Named Music
Outlaw State of Mind
Sometimes I Cry
Spotify Playlist Link: