Has Shooter Jennings Abandoned Country Music?

I am briefly interrupting my New Mexico rehabilitation…er..vacation to ponder the rumor around the iterwebs that Shooter Jennings has given up country music to focus on his new band called Hierophant. An ancient Greek term the role of the hierophant in religion is to bring the congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy. Hierophant has been described as John Lennon meets Radiohead.

Jenning’s website features a clock radio with the band name and the words “Wake Up!”

It is rumored that Jennings was “..tired of being something he’s not.” So based on this new band description what is he? A British experimental pop musician?

I don’t know if the abandoning country music rumor is true, but after listening to his latest studio release “The Wolf” and with the release this month of a Shooter Jennings Greatest Hits (after only three albums!) I have to acknowledge that his heart sure doesn’t see to be in it anymore.

Let’s just hope that Hierophant is better than Stargunn was.

14 Replies to “Has Shooter Jennings Abandoned Country Music?”

  1. I never gave much thought to Shooter Jennings contributing anything to country music anyway. His daddy sure did but Shooter definately ain’t anything close to being like his daddy. Mabey Shooter could star in his own “reality” T.V. show. It couldn’t be any more boring than the music he writes.

  2. I went to see Shooter with my brother who really likes him. All I remember is that the music was really loud. I couldn’t tell if it was good or not. He did seem to have a pretty devoted (and obnoxious) following, though. I wonder how they’re going to take this switch.

  3. Just yesterday I saw Shooter and his band (not calling themselves Hierophant, but simply “Shooter Jennings”) and although he is pulling away from his country roots, in no way is his music boring. The energy at the concert was high and fast-paced, and although very little of the crowd had actually heard of him/them (ashamedly myself included among those so unfortunate not to be blessed previously by their music), everyone was dancing and screaming along within seconds of their start. Every member of his band is an accomplished musician who puts their heart and soul into every note they play. Both the guitar and organ solos were incredible, and the bassist held some busy basslines that perfectly complemented the rhythm and even melody. The drummer was a strong, competent backbone for the band, and Shooter’s vocals were on spot. By the end of the set, I was sincerely sold, as many people were, and soon found my way to the line at his merch tent.

  4. Whoever wrote this article should see the them live before they stuff out like British experimental pop musician, The new material is amazing.

  5. @Erson – I’m glade you had a good time and enjoyed the band. My point wasn’t that Shooter was now going to start a crappy band but that that band was going in another direction than I, and many others, came on board with Shooter as a country singer (well, Americana at least). From the many YouTube videos I’ve seen of recent Shooter performances It’s probably not my cup of tea.

    @Svenjamin, CStand- I saw Shooter on Put the O Back in Country and Electric Rodeo tours and was in the crowd in New York City the night his live album was recorded. I’m a fan of his country stuff and think his new work, like his work with Starrgun, was sub par.

  6. I don’t think most of the people out there get it. What Shooter Jennings, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Stoney Larue and bands like them do is rock music “real rock music”, mixed with country “real country”, but not only country, but the ingredients of real country, styles like blues,folk rock, acoustic music, classic rock, southern rock and everything else. Anyone that couldn’t hear the rock in all of shooters stuff is an idiot. The country stuff was there, but alot was pure acoustic stuff that could have been done by other types of musicians like folk singers or classic rock types. people like Willie and Waylon, Johny cash, Kris Kristofferson, were originals. there music blurred the line between ,country, folk, blues, rock, and hippie stoner stuff etc. these are real artist making roots oriented music with an edge. i don’t see were all of shooters stuff could be played in one set. if you don’t hear the passion in all of his stuff you are a fool. the stuff shooter does has never been the lametop ten cd’s at Wallmart, or the same old pop country songs that sound like they came out of a machine, with some cowboy hat wearing redneck, with some annoying drawl, and no edge or balls, nor is it the lame ass rascal flats mixing pop country with pop rock. It is edgy music written yes by an artist that plays them, songs from the heart, the gut, experimenting and breaking boundaries and blurring labels. In the 80’s you had Bon Jovi, and bands like guns n roses came and destroyes them, and then bands like Nirvana buried them. I look at bands like shooter and cross canadian ragweed, and a host of others as the same thing flushing lame shit down the toilet.

  7. Shooter Jennings is Shooter and That is TRUE Country music …….would say the “author” has No idea of what True Country music is although he did give credit to Waylon ..
    After speaking to Ted Rusell Kamp at a Shooter show ,this is not a new direction just a extension to what Shooter and the Band is .
    Listen and enjoy and watch this star continue to rise

  8. Ken: If by that you mean a spirit of independence is “country music” I will give you that it is necessary for “good” country music, as much as it results in country music.

    But will Shooter’s newest foray into warmed-over Pink Floyd, well, I have no use for it.

  9. My band played on the 4th of July with SJ, and he and his band were really cool, laid back guys that are dedicated to making the music that they hear in their heads. Country or not, they were great and are following their muse.

    (O’ Back in Country is a modern classic recording in the genre. I respect anyone for recording what their heart and talent leads them to, especially if they KNOW they are gonna get flak for it!)

    As for the “real/true” country debate, “Country” IS by gosh whatever people from the “country” decide it is. I grew up on a ranch in Western Oklahoma in the 70’s and 80’s listening to everything from Bob Wills to Willie/Merle/Waylon to the Eagles to CSNY, Zepplin and Van Halen.

    Musicians are the product of their life experiences and influences, and me incorporating MY influences into the music I play is no less relevant than any of the original old timers blending field hollers and Celtic melodies into Bluegrass that became traditional country that Bob Wills blended with Big Band to become Western Swing, etc. It’s just natural evolution and the absorption of wider influences over time.

    I have played many shows and large festivals for years with the original Red Dirt OK/TX crowd like The Great Divide, REK, Pat Green, Ragweed and many others, and we’re all doing what comes naturally. There’s PLENTY of artists out there doing what they are naturally inclined to do. The problem I have is people saying, “It ain’t REAL country!”

    If I grew up in the country and play music influenced by what I heard growing up, then it’s “real” country. Period. Those who don’t like it can just keep listening to their Conway Twitty/George Jones/Merle Haggard, etc recordings and be happy. Hell, I know I will be listening to all those, it’s just that I ALSO listen to jazz, rock, latin and other styles too and that will organically come out in my playing. Just because a musician doesn’t play EXACTLY like his forefathers does NOT mean that he doesn’t respect and pay tribute to them.

    Peace y’all!

  10. buddaman1971: point well made. As I’ve said, I’m a huge fan of Shooter’s earlier work, His first two country albums are never far from my play list. Then he gave us The Wolf, which was terrible. And now he is making rock records. I guess I’m a pissed that he went out of the genre with a whimper, that was my pont.

    Believe me I’ve bit on the real /not real country bait in the past and avoid it like the plague. I will however good vs crappy country as long as people can be respectful of others when debating it.

  11. I TOTALLY get that and agree! Hell…it was a lil weird for ME when he launched into a bunch of performance art jam-band stuff after we played a set of red dirt. (We actually call ourselves Red Dirt Rock, as, well…that’s what we sound like! We have never claimed to be true country.) The advantage is that we can lighten up a bit and play country venues and still rock out enough to book in pop/rock venues too. We actually played at Country Jam 09 in Colorado, which had over 125,000 people over 4 days back in June. Pretty cool.

    As a silly joke, we actually sound checked with an 80’s rock sounding version of 4th of July ON the 4th with Shooter, and several of the guys in the band came out and were chuckin’ us the rock and roll head bang and loved it. They all even hung out with us after the show and had a few beers.

    Great to chat with you and take care!


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