by Jewly Hight
Jamey Johnson made an abrupt exit from the Ryman stage last year after playing just an hour’s worth of Hank Cochran classics and uttering a few surly words. More than a few people have been wondering what he’s been up to since — besides, you know, smoking. He’s shown up for a handful of efforts he cares about this year: He contributed his visceral vocals to an Alabama tribute album, performed at the Tootsies Orchid Lounge birthday bash, and played the four-hour-plus Bridgestone show honoring the late George Jones — with no less than Megadeth as his backing band (see a clip from that after the jump, with a clip of Johnson doing a Jones medley at the Opry a couple years back above). But other than that and some touring, it’s a mystery what the most gifted, tradition-steeped singer-songwriter of his generation has been up to. In an online Rolling Stone interview early this year, Johnson warned not to expect new music from him anytime soon. But judging from a review of a recent New Orleans show where he interpreted pre-’60s country and gospel standards in addition to drawing from his standard-setting albums, going off-script can have advantages for his audience.
Tonight's show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $35 at the door.