Walking into

the “big club” at the Texas Longhorn the first thing one may have noticed was

that the indoor bull riding arena was replaced by several hundred chairs. There

were no bulls and the cowboys were rigged out for dancing and not riding. The reason

for the changes was the first appearance at the Longhorn by Jamey Johnson.

Johnson is

very likely the hottest new star to hit the country music scene in a long time.

He has been around the Nashville scene for years as a songwriter and singer, but

has only recently begun to reach his potential.


college attendance at Jacksonville State University and eight years in the U.S.

Marines, the Enterprise, Alabama native decided to try to turn his hobby of

writing and singing songs into a career. One of his first gigs was opening for

David Allen Coe.

By 2000 he had moved to Nashville in pursuit of a career in

country music. Greg Perkins, a fiddle player who had played with Tayna Tucker

and other artists invited Johnson to sing as a duet partner on a demo tape. The

other half of the duet was Gretchen Wilson. Songs for which Johnson sang demo

included “Songs About Me” (cut by Trace Adkins) and “That’s How They Do It in

Dixie” (cut by Hank Williams, Jr. with Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, and Van


By 2005, Johnson had released his first single under contract

with BNA Records. The song was “The Dollar”. The song peaked at #14 on the

Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

In 2006 Johnson co-wrote with Bill Anderson and Buddy Cannon,

“Give It Away”, a song recorded by George Strait that went to #1 on the country

charts. “Give It Away was Strait’s 41st  #1 hit on the Billboard country charts and

set a new record for the most #1’s on that chart. The songwriting trio won the

Academy of Country Music Best Song of the Year award for “Give It Away”.

IN 2009 Johnson was nominated for three Grammy Awards for

Best Country Album, Best Country Song and Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

That year he was also nominated by the Academy of Country Music for Song of the

Year for his song “In Color’, Top New Male Vocalist, and Top Album of the Year.

Johnson took home the award for Song of the Year. He was also nominated by the

Country Music Association for Single of the Year and Song of the Year for “In

Color”, New artist of the Year, and Album of the Year. Once again “In Color”

won for Song of the Year.

So far in 2010 he has been nominated for a Grammy for Best

Male Country Vocal performance for “High Cost of Living”. The Academy of

Country Music has nominated him for Top New Solo Vocalist.

Advance ticket sales were brisk and the demand was high for

tickets to the concert. The Horseman Store in Orange sold their allotment of

tickets two weeks before the show, with some driving from as far as Houston to

purchase the advance tickets.

The concert resulted in a near, if not full capacity crowd at

the Longhorn. It was clearly one of the largest attended concerts in the history

of the club.

Johnson more than lived up to his reputation as one of the

top entertainers in the country music industry. He entered the stage with

little fanfare and began to “pick and sing”. He began his show at 10:30 p.m.

and sang until nearly 1:30 a.m.

Johnson sings a song or two; steps back for a short sip of a

drink; and begins another song. If you want to hear a great singer, then

Johnson is your man. If you want to hear words, stay home. Johnson is a singer,

pure and simple. He sings a selection from his first songs ten years ago to the

songs of this year.

His song “In Color” is about a young man listening to his

grandpa telling stories from the old man’s past. The old man pauses and says, “you

should’ve seen it in color.” It is a great song that gives one pause to think

about their past and the “old men” in it.

As far as Johnson’s song that includes the phrase, “whiskey

eyes and ashtray breath”, draw your own conclusion. (She did love his


The packed house for the most part stayed to the end with

people cheering at every break between songs. The party atmosphere lasted until

the last note was sung and Johnson left the stage. No one had any reason to be

disappointed in the concert.

Johnson’s next appearance in the area is scheduled at the

Cajun Dome in Lafayette, La on April 10.

Next on the schedule at the Longhorn is indoor bull riding on

March 19, followed the next night, March 20, by a rodeo in the outdoor arena.