A bunch of us in Austin for Willie Nelson’s birthday celebration/ West Fire Fighter Fundraiser, went to hear Dallas Wayne and Billy Joe Shaver perform at the Bastrop Brewhouse, in Bastrop, TX. Billy Joe told a long story about writing this song, and then sang it. What an entertainer!
Archive for the ‘Billy Joe Shaver’ Category
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The St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Houston invites you to a rare opportunity to hear one of Texas’ finest musical treasures, Billy Joe Shaver, at a free concert on March 6, 2013. The concert is part of the Church’s Lenten Concert Series “Songs of Lovin’ and Redemption.”. Billy Joe will perform at 7:00 p.m. in their newly renovated sanctuary, located at.
” This series is our gift to the city of Houston: We want to share the gift of music with you that is profound and soulful.”
Well, Billy Joe is both.
Other artists in the series will include Sara Hickman on March 13, and Terri Hendrix on …March 20.
Get more information visit their website here. or email Eric Hungerford at eric.hungerford@stmarks-ho
3816 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, Texas 77025
by C. M. Wilcox
At 73, Billy Joe Shaver is some combination of Pentecostal showman and hard-country poet, a foot-stomping, gesticulating good ol’ boy who’ll devastate you with a knowing turn of phrase as surely as he’ll get you dancing in the aisles to the bawdy, unsubtle “That’s What She Said Last Night.” His secret, Shaver will tell you, is that he writes great songs. That much is hard to argue. “You Asked Me To,” “Old Five and Dimers Like Me,” “Honky Tonk Heroes,” and “Live Forever” are country classics and live show staples.
The songs are just part of the equation, though. The other part is that the honesty in his songs is the honesty in his person and the spirit he embodies when he takes the stage. Nobody connects with an audience better simply by being a true, unapologetic version of himself than Billy Joe Shaver.
Last Friday night at the Palms Playhouse in Winters, CA, Shaver took the stage with a Walmart bag full of cold supplies on his arm. Its purpose became clear several songs in, when he complained of a nose that wouldn’t quit running and began searching himself for Kleenex or a handkerchief. No luck in the plastic bag. No luck in his pockets. In search of any solution to his problem, he ultimately settled on blowing his nose right into the coat he’d shed on his way to the mic, to the semi-disgusted amusement of concertgoers.
No, he’s not much for putting on airs. When a kindly woman in the front row presented him with a pack of Kleenex, Shaver took one out and, turning it over slowly in his hand, quipped that it ‘looks so pretty it’s a shame to get it all messed up.’ With his discarded coat still laying at his feet.
He seemed more at ease with the handkerchief offered by another fan later in the show.
Such moments of off-the-cuff charm were plentiful, with Shaver seeming a bit out of sorts but no less dedicated to putting on a great show. Even as he apologized for his condition between songs, his voice and enthusiasm never faltered. Sick or not, he was bursting with spirit and poetry. If his guitarist needs a few spare moments to retune, Shaver will sooner burst into a spontaneous a cappella rendition of “Son of Calvary” than leave the audience hanging. When he’s onstage, he’s on. Period.
Beyond the expected hits and live staples, Shaver made an unlikely showpiece of 1981 album cut “Ragged Old Truck,” which he presented with a hilarious, meandering introduction twice as long as the song itself. The backstory added greatly to the song’s reception, with the line “So before that ol’ heifer drives back in from Waco, you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be gone” getting one of the bigger laughs of the night. That this story and song appear on none of his four live albums suggests that someone should be following him around with a tape rig at all times. He’s got a few more left in him.
Shaver’s band – guitarist Jeremy Woodall, drummer Jason Lynn McKenzie, and bassist Matt Davis – proved a force to be reckoned with, morphing from ripping electric rock band to snappy country-folk ensemble and back again as the songwriter’s wide-ranging material demanded. Woodall soloed tastefully throughout, while McKenzie earned big applause with an inventive drum solo on “When the Word Was Thunderbird.”
By the time they followed “You Can’t Beat Jesus Christ” with “The Road” to end the night, two hours had passed. Shaver was still game to sign stuff at the merchandise table, but he advised folks keep their distance lest they catch his cold. Sure. Undeterred, fans swarmed in for hugs and autographs. How many opportunities do you get to catch a cold from one of America’s greatest living songwriters, anyway?
Incidentally, Shaver appeared with the same band featured on his recent Live at Billy Bob’s CD/DVD set. For those who haven’t seen Shaver in person yet, or have and would like to be able to relive the experience, the set is highly recommended. If the existence of three previous live albums points to the fact that something special – and something especially worth capturing – happens when he takes the stage, Billy Bob’s might be the first to actually capture it. It’s also the only complete Shaver live album recorded this millennium, a period that has seen him rebuilding spiritually and casting himself upon the music more completely than ever. I could do without some of the talking heads between songs (DVD only), but the musical content is about as close as you’ll get to being there in the flesh for a latter-day Shaver show. An important document of an important talent, and one you’ll return to again and again.
Billy Joe Shaver has a new collection of music recorded live at Billy Bob’s Texas, and you can purchase it at Amazon here: Live at Billy Bob’s Texas
Billy Joe kindly posed for a picture with me at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic in Fort Worth:
Today is Billy Joe Shaver’s birthday.
Billy Joe Shaver, Knuckleheads, Kansas City, Missouri (August 12, 2011)
Dallas Wayne and Billy Joe Shaver
I took this one at Knuckleheads 8/12/11
by Patrick Doyle
On his 2009 track “I Feel a Change Coming On,” Bob Dylan sang, “I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver and I’m reading James Joyce.” Dylan is one of Shaver’s many famous fans; Willie Nelson calls him “the greatest songwriter alive today” and Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley have all recorded his songs. Shaver grew up in the Waco, Texas area, moving to Nashville in the mid-Sixties. He wrote 10 out of the 11 songs on Waylon Jennings’ 1973 outlaw country breakthrough, Honky Tonk Heroes, and has remained an underground hero since then – but violence, drugs and alcohol often got in the way of his own career. In 2007, he was charged with shooting a man in the face at a bar near his home in Waco, Texas (he was acquitted by a jury, pleading self-defense). “I am very sorry about the incident,” Shaver said outside the courtroom. “Hopefully things will work out where we become friends enough so that he gives me back my bullet.”
This week, Shaver releases Live at Billy Bob‘s Texas, his first album since the trial.
You’ve had an interesting career. While you may not have become as huge as some of your fans like Dylan, Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers and Johnny Cash, you‘ve always had a rabid group of hardcore fans.
I have a good following of people. I have kind of cornered that simplicity thing. It’s easy for me to be simple because I haven’t gone to college or even finished high school, so you’re not going to get any of them big 10-dollar words from me. And consequentially it’s easier for dumbasses like myself to understand it, and of course the real smart people understand it and they appreciate it because it’s real simple. And it says so much in so few words. That’s what I got when I didn’t finish school and I picked up my language from the street and from farms.
Waylon Jennings recorded a whole album of your songs, 1973‘s Honky Tonk Heroes, which turned out to be a major breakthrough for him – I think it‘s his best album. What was that period like?
[Backstage at a gig] he let me play a song. He said, “If I stop you now, you’re going to get that guitar out and get out of here and I’m never going to see you again.” So I went ahead and sang, “Ain’t No God in Mexico.” Then I sang “Honky Tonk Heroes” and “You Asked Me To.” Then he slapped his knee and said, “You know what I gotta do?” and he went in there and ran the [studio] musicians off and brought his own band in and recorded those songs right away. The label fought about it, trying to stop it. Chet Atkins was afraid it would hurt the business the way we were coming out, you know, saying “God” and “damn” and things like that in the songs. But it just couldn’t be stopped. It was too good. I’m pretty sure it’s the first country album that sold a million.
Your son [guitarist Eddy Shaver] toured with you throughout the Eighties and Nineties. He died of a drug overdose on New Years Eve 2000, but you still played a show that night.
Yeah. I couldn’t believe it. My band just scattered out then. It just killed them. They all just went and cried somewhere. But I had a show booked at Poodie’s [outside of Austin, Texas]. Willie Nelson called me up and said, “The best thing to do when the horse throws you is to get back up on it.” Willie had a good band together, and he was up there singing and once in a while I’d sing one or two but to people there. Every once in a while you’d see somebody who heard what happened and go crying out the door and leave, but I stuck in there. Then I went and spent the night over at Willie’s and we talked and talked. Every experience you’ve had, Willie’s probably had two or three times. He knew what to say and how to treat me. He’s really been a best friend.
After all of that, you still work in a lot of spirituality in your live shows.
I have to. It’s getting close to my end so I’m sure it’s getting close to everybody else’s. Not my end, but I figure that when we do pass, we actually start the beginning of forever then. It’s easy to figure out because you can’t destroy anything. You can’t destroy people, either, because they go to a different form. If you’re burning something, it turns into smoke. If you step on something, it squishes. Everything makes sense for a person to go on to me. And of course I do believe in God, and I’m a born-again Christian, and Jesus Christ is the one who made us all number two. And I believe that because my grandmother told me, and she wouldn’t lie to me.
When did you become born-again?
I’ve slipped back since then many times since, but it was when I wrote [1981's] “Old Chunk of Coal.” I went out on the Harpeth River in Nashville. I went way up a treacherous pathway up this cliff to jump off of it. It looked like the Devil’s tower or something. It was cloudy, no stars or moon or anything, dark as pitch. Way up on top that cliff was an altar – or something that looked liked one. I thought I jumped off a cliff, to tell you the truth.
I’d already seen Jesus actually, or a vision of him shaking his head saying, “How long you gonna do this?” It was pure white. I was really screwed up, man. I’d taken a bunch of stuff and done a bunch of stuff and come in my house about four in the morning and this vision was waiting on me, and then I got in my truck and drove out there to this place. At the top of that cliff was an altar, or something that looked like one, and I wound up with my back to the edge of the cliff and my elbows and everything on the altar, and my boots were off of my feet and they looked just like they were gold. It would take me forever to tell you what really happened, but I found myself asking God to forgive me for being such an idiot, and he helped me because he gave me that song. I came down that path after all that stuff, slipped my boots and came down that path singing that first half of that song.
After people like Elvis Presley, Dylan, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash covered your songs, were you ever disappointed you never achieved their level of fame and success?
Maybe for a second, but not really. I thought about that one time, real hard. I was driving home one night and heard this song and it was so good I pulled over to the side of the road and thought, “I might as well shoot myself for not writing that song.” And after a while, I realized I had written it. It was someone strange singing it, but turned out to be a hit. If I hadn’t gone down this road I went down, I wouldn’t be able to write the kinds of songs I’m writing now even. I think I’m writing just as good as I ever did.
It’s been five years since your last record. Is there any update?
I’ve got it ready. I just haven’t had any offers from any record companies or anything like that, so I guess I might do it myself. Might as well. My guitar player, Jeremy Woodall is just as good as any of them and he can produce it. Now I’ll get on with it.
In 2010 you went on trial for shooting a man, Billy Bryant Coker, at a bar outside Waco. You sing about it on the new song “Wacko from Waco.“ What is it like looking back on the whole experience?
I feel like I’ve lost a lot of years that I could have been writing, but I didn’t really want to be writing, I didn’t want to get a whole bunch of bitterness into everything, I’m bitter enough as it is. [Laughs]
What kind of toll did that trial take on you?
A pretty big toll. I had to be careful what I said, and I’ve had to walk away from places where I should have punched somebody in the mouth and I didn’t and I just had to walk away from a lot of things. I couldn’t be John Wayne anymore. But now I’m kind of easing back into it [Laughs]
Can you shed some light about what happened outside the bar, Papa Joe‘s Saloon, in 2007?
Actually, that song “Wacko from Waco” pretty much tells it. He fired on me before I fired on him. That never even came up in the trial. But you can go back and listen in the script and tell it, because there’s people inside, every one of them thought it was firecrackers. You need more than one shot, and I only shot once, just a little old .22 and that was it. He had some other kind of gun. I don’t know what it was, but he shot at me three times, and I thought, “Well I better do something.”
At the trial, the state made the case that you were actually provoked because the man you shot was stirring his drink with a knife in a menacing way.
Well that’s all they had to work with. They couldn’t find the gun, so it was just as well doing that. He knew I was innocent.
The night you were acquitted, you drove three hours and played a show.
Well I don’t miss a show. There’s no business like show business. Eddy wouldn’t miss a show for nothing. We played the night my mother died.
A lot of your records are out of print. Do you think you‘ll ever find a way to reissue them?
Well, I don’t know, the Capricorn Records stuff I doubt will ever be released since [label co-founder] Phil Walden passed. I went ahead and rerecorded a bunch of songs that were on records. Sometimes you’ll see songs on records of mine that have been recorded three or four times on my records – that’s because every place I play, the record company goes out of business, and then I just go do the same songs again to make sure they got out. They’re kind of coming back a little bit now.
Billy Joe Shaver pleased the crowd with a great set from the Outdoor Stage. It was hot, and he made it hotter, with stories of the devil, and that woman, who was built for speed, with the tools you need, to make a new fool every day. That man can turn a phrase! There’s no one like him. Billy Bob Texas is selling a cd/dvd of his performance there, and watch for your copy at the Billy Bob Texas’ Website.
Billy Joe Shaver fan Jody Wrangham, front and center. The more things change, the more they stay the same! I like that.
Watch for Billy Bob’s Texas Billy Joe Shaver collection:
Billy Joe Shaver has set a July 17th release date for his first album in five years, Live at Billy Bob’s Texas.
For the album Billy Joe Shaver and his Heart of Texas Band offer the best from his catalog of songs in concert from the stage of the world’s largest honky tonk.
The fully loaded special package includes 20 live renditions of some of his most notable compositions on an audio CD and DVD as well as two bonus tracks, and is the first set of new concert recordings since 1995 to be issued to the public. Included among Shaver classics and favorites are two new songs: “Wacko From Waco” (co-written with his longtime friend Willie Nelson) and “The Git Go,” proving that his muse remains as fertile as ever.
Born, raised and still living in the rolling plains of Central Texas, Shaver is not just the epitome of a songwriter’s songwriter, but a singer, recording artist and performer as well as actor and published author. A genuine salt of the earth natural talent whose acclaimed work is free of any artifice. The esteem he has accrued since 1973 — when he issued his first album, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, and Waylon Jennings recorded nine of Shaver’s songs on his landmark Honky Tonk Heroes LP that heralded the arrival of country music’s outlaw movement — is best measured by the fellow writers and talents who admire, perform and have recorded his compositions. Revered American novelist John Steinbeck’s favorite song was “Old Five and Dimers,” which has also been played at live shows by Bob Dylan, who mentions Shaver in his recent song “I Feel a Change Comin’ On.” Just some of the distinguished artists who have recorded Shaver’s works are Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kris Kristofferson, The Allman Brothers, Bobby Bare, John Anderson, George Jones, Tex Ritter, Patty Loveless and Willie Nelson, who says that “Billy Joe Shaver may be the best songwriter alive today.”
At the same time, there’s nothing else like Shaver himself performing his songs. Live at Billy Bob’s Texas delivers all the dynamism, musical variety, emotion and personality of a Shaver show in both audio and video. The set opens with his paean to his home place, “Heart of Texas,” a Lone Star dancehall two-step with a rock kick from his band: guitarist Jeremy Woodall, drummer Jason Lynn McKenzie and bassist Matt Davis. Included are vibrant renditions of such signature Shaver numbers as “Georgia on a Fast Train,” “Honky Tonk Heroes,” “Old Chunk of Coal,” “Live Forever” and “Old Five and Dimers,” along with gems from across the range of his career. Shaver rocks numbers like “That’s What She Said Last Night,” “Black Rose,” “Hottest Thing in Town” and others. He hits an electric Western groove on “Thunderbird,” harks back to ragtime on “Good Old USA,” country-waltzes Texas style on “I Couldn’t Be Me Without You,” tenderly renders “Star in My Heart” a cappella, and wraps it all up with a rousing “You Can’t Beat Jesus Christ.” His recent legal troubles are wittily recounted on “Wacko From Waco” while the hauntingly bluesy “The Git Go” deftly summarizes the facts of life since the dawn of history. The double-disc set is the ultimate Shaver live experience as well as a de facto greatest hits collection, and finds Shaver as potent as ever in front of an enthusiastic audience.
The Live at Billy Bob’s Texas series includes more than two hundred #1 Billboard hits. Billy Joe Shaver is the 42nd artist to record for the series, joining Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Gary Stewart, David Allan Coe, Pat Green, Randy Rogers Band, Stoney LaRue, Wade Bowen and many others as a member of the Live at Billy Bob’s Texas family.
with son Eddy, ‘Willie, the Wandering Gypsy and Me” (1985)
at Farm Aid 2011, Kansas City, “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”.
Billy Joe Shaver performs “Honky Tonk Heroes” with Jamey Johnson and Shooter Jennings at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville on December 6, 2011.