Jamey Johnson likes to keep his audience guessing

For the News-DemocratJuly 16, 2014 

Platinum-selling singer/songwriter Jamey Johnson, one of today's most respected country music artists, will play the Old Rock House in St. Louis tonight.

The Washington Post considers him "one of the greatest country singers of our time." Since Johnson doesn't create a set list, no two shows are the same.

"I don't know what I'm going to do until I am standing there doing it," he said. "That is a freedom I have enjoyed ever since I began doing this, the ability to try something new.

"You'll see me do a lot of my songs, including my old stuff," Johnson said.

"If I have a new song that I want to share, you will hear that. When I'm not doing my songs, I'll be doing everybody else's that I like, from every format. If I find a jazz song that I like, we'll drop it in there. If I find a rock song that I like, we'll do that.

Johnson's stage show consists of a wide variety of material that is played in a traditional country style, including the use of steel guitar.

"My taste is vintage, traditional, and that is not to say that everything I do is old. There are a lot of new writers these days that are putting out great music that I find in the same vein as the old stuff I like and we may try some of that out."

His 2008 album, "That Lonesome Song," was certified platinum for 1 million in sales, and his 2010 ambitious double album, "The Guitar Song," received a gold certification.

He won two Song of the Year trophies, for "Give It Away" and "In Color," both from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association, and has received six Grammy nominations. He has received tremendous praise from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and other publications, many of which have hailed his albums as masterpieces.

In 2012, the Alabama native released his fourth studio album, a tribute project to the late songwriter Hank Cochran. The Grammy-nominated "Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran" paired him with Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Ray Price, Elvis Costello, George Strait, Vince Gill and Merle Haggard.

In 2013, the Nashville Scene's 13th annual Country Music Critics' Poll named it the year's best album. (Two years earlier, the same poll named Johnson's "The Guitar Song" as the year's best album, and Johnson himself as best male vocalist, best songwriter and artist of the year.)

Johnson said he gets the same thrill ach time he takes the stage as he did when he launched his career.

"I love the audience participation," he said. "I love it when they sing along. I love it when I can't remember the words and they do. I love it when the band really nails a good one, and I love it when we end up in a train wreck, and those are few and far between, but I even love that.

"There are some things we do every night and I think our fans know what that will be," he added. "Fans will yell at me during the show and I can't understand what they are saying, but I am thrilled to death they are that passionate."

Who: Jamey Johnson

When: tonight at 8; doors open at 7

Where: The Old Rock House, 1200 S. Seventh St., St Louis

Tickets: $30 www.oldrockhouse.com

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