When I was growing up in Austin, country music was defined by legends like George Strait, Johnny Cash and Waylon, Willie and the boys.
Update, Mar 13, 2020: In response to the growing concerns over COVID-19 (coronavirus), the March All-American Road Show Tour performances have been rescheduled. New dates will be announced as soon as they are available.
As country music has evolved, and those classic artists have aged, the distinctive original sound has strayed away from its roots for a more popular appeal. Enter country music artist Chris Stapleton.
Considered a throwback singer paying homage to these early days of the genre, Stapleton brings the All-American Road Show Tour to Austin’s Frank Erwin Center on March 12th. (Other Texas dates include Corpus Christi, March 11, Arlington, March 14—with the legendary Willie Nelson and Family as special guests—-and the Houston Rodeo March 19 .)
Stapleton, has quickly become one of country music’s most recognized voices. His debut solo album, the 2015 “Traveller,” went triple platinum and reached number one on the Billboard Charts. “Tennessee Whiskey,” a cover of a David Allan Coe song, became an instant hit, propelling Stapleton toward CMT’s Breakout Artist award and Grammys for Best Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance. In May 2017, Stapleton followed up “Traveller” with “From a Room: Volume 1” and, in Dec 2017, “From a Room: Volume 2.” Featuring “Broken Halos” and “Millionaire,” both albums went on to be nominated for awards, with Volume 1 winning Stapleton his second CMA Album of the Year.
The All-American Road Show Tour features two special guests. One is an established country musician, Jamey Johnson. The other is a country music upcoming star, known as Yola.
Throughout his career, Jamey Johnson has written and co-written songs for some of country music’s biggest stars. George Strait and Trace Adkins recorded songs written by Johnson that eventually reached number one on the Billboard Chart. In 2012, Johnson released “Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran,” including collaborations with Emmylou Harris, George Strait and Willie Nelson. In 2019, Johnson toured with Don Was, Warren Hayes, Lukas Nelson and Cyril Neville on “The Last Waltz” tour, celebrating The Band’s 1976 farewell show at the Winterland Ballroom.
Yola is a British singer-songwriter. In February 2019, she released her debut album “Walk Through Fire,” on Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye sound label. “Walk Through Fire” was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist. “It’s the work of an artist sure to stun audiences for years to come,” NPR Music First Listen’s Britney McKenna said of the newcomer’s album. Yola also recently recorded a performance for the 46th season of Austin City Limits TV.
When the traveller brings his All-American Road Show Tour to Texas stages for an evening of country music with a twist of blues, you may be reminded of those beloved country legends like Cash, Nelson, Jennings and Haggard. The bearded troubadour even evokes memories of the famous Texas guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Stapleton has a strong following, and his soulful music ballads possess timeless qualities. He has earned a spot in the life stories of so many fans. I’ll be in the Austin audience, which I know will warmly welcome him to our city, where Texas country roots and two-stepping run deep. And possibly just as smooth as Tennessee whisky.
Cover photo courtesy Chris Stapleton
Brian Maass is a native Austinite who has a passion for music, travel and sharing his experiences through his camera lens. He lives in Round Rock, Texas with his wife Dana Kent Maass and their faithful dog Chester.