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Jerry Jeff Walker coming to town

by Chris MacKenzie

Jerry Jeff Walker will be in town at the new Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall on King Street on Saturday.

If you haven’t heard of Walker, he and Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and others is part of the original group of country artists that shunned Nashville and set up shop in Austin, Texas, in the 1970s — the so-called “outlaw” movement in country music.

Walker is still as big as ever in the Austin country scene. If you are even remotely familiar with country music, you’ve heard his work in one form or another.

He penned and/or help make famous such songs as “Mr. Bojangles,” “Nightriders Lament,” “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother” and “L.A. Freeway,” among others.

If you graduated from high school around here in the early to mid-1980s, you might remember me as one of those few dorks in school that listened to country music.

Country songs about life on the road, on a party, on the range, or nursin’ a heartbreak were my favorite tunes. As a result, Walker, along with Nelson, Jennings and Merle Haggard, were the cause of much ridicule for me from my peers through my formative years — that along with late puberty — but I digress (I’m sure my sister-in-law, Lisa Keating, a local psychologist who writes a regular column for this paper, will appreciate that little tidbit. It will provide plenty of material when trying come up with a subject for her next article).

Anyway, to get back on point, while it’s hard to put a finger on, I believe Walker’s music could best be described as country folk/country rock. He has a unique blend of raucous, good-time, sing-along tunes that are sure to get your boots stompin’, along with reflective and mellow ballads to provide just the right balance in his show.

While Walker is now in his early 60s, he hasn’t slowed down. His exchange of songs and music with the next generation of Austin-style country artists, such as Robert Earl Keene, Todd Snider and his son Django Walker, shows that he’s not lost a step.

Another reason to be excited about this concert is that it is being held at the new Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall, better known to locals as the old St. Teresa Church. This great venue, coupled with the staging and sound expertise of the Upstage Center Theater, is the perfect complement to Walker’s musical talent. Plus, it’s a chance to have fun in a church.

There are two performances, at 6 p.m. and 8:30, and it sounds like there is going to be a preconcert party out in the parking lot before the first performance. This is a show that is not to be missed, and you had better hurry because tickets are going fast.

Aside: Walker’s latest album (do they still call them that?), while I haven’t heard it yet, apparently ventures into the jazz arena. While I am not a big jazz fan, having liked most of Walker’s offerings through the years, I am sure this latest compilation provides great listening.

Chris MacKenzie is a local attorney and Carson City native.