April 1, 2008

This Wolf runs from the pack

“A lot of making this record was me accepting myself as an outsider to some degree,” Shooter Jennings says of his latest album, The Wolf.An outsider, he is. The son of original outlaw country rabblerouser Waylon Jennings, Shooter has yet to be fully embraced by an industry where his family is so revered. “They don’t say they like me … but they accept me and my existence,” he says of mainstream country music. “I don’t know if we should just point the finger at the industry. They all operate on a self-maintaining system, built on relationships between labels, producers and songwriters; they all scratch each other’s backs; that’s just how it is.”Jennings isn’t content to accept the cold shoulder. He makes his own inroads.“Artists like us, that are always tried and true, we have to work and break through ourselves because (the industry) never comes looking for this kind of stuff,” he says. “It’s come to a time when the industry has a tight grip on the music, but I believe the artists will have their time again.”He isn’t completely soured on country music. “I kinda feel like it’s not that any of the artists out there aren’t credible — I mean they’ve all worked hard for it,” he says. “I like Brad Paisley a lot … I always have. I like the songs he writes, I love his guitar playing. I love Alan Jackson, I still buy his records … there’s a lot of diamonds in all of that coal.”Shooter embraces his father’s legacy rather than running from it.“(There’s) a lot of him in me, period. I was very close to him, and he had a relationship with music that I loved and admired very much,” he says. “But there are certain things that are very home to me when I hear his music.”After the death of his father, and the birth of his first child, Alabama Rose, last November (the little girl’s mother is Drea de Matteo, of “Sopranos” fame), Shooter’s cover of Mark Knopfler’s “Walk of Life” seemed appropriate for The Wolf. He and his band, The .357s, originally recorded it, he says, “just because it was on (the radio). I thought it was a cool idea, because we hadn’t really done any covers. But I fell in love with the song in a totally different way once I understood kinda what it was about.”Becoming a father is influencing his music as much as his lineage. “I’m seeing the world differently now,” he says. “It’s kind of mimicking her face in a way, but it’s also like she’s a blank slate, and this is the world she’s seeing.” See leomusicblog.blogspot.com for a Q&A with Shooter. Contact the writer at leo@leoweekly.comShooter Jennings & The .357sThursday, April 3Headliners Music Hall1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088$15, 9:30 p.m.