SAN ANGELO, TX — The band Whiskey Myers was the headline performance of Saturday night’s first big show of the weeklong Wild West Fest. About 2,000 were in attendance. For those not familiar with the music of Whiskey Myers, the best way to describe their sound is “modern Lynyrd Skynyrd.” The southern rock band hails from Palestine in east Texas and their breakout hit in the late 2000s is titled appropriately: “Ballad of a Southern Man.”
For Saturday night’s show, Whiskey Myers pleased the audience with a slew of well-known hits, starting the nearly two-hour set with “A Trailer We Call Home,” to warm up the crowd. The sound was perfect with at least 16 speakers each flying on the sides of the stage. Lead singer Cody Cannon was on his “A” game, providing near perfect pitch and emotional performance. He alternated between an acoustic and telecaster electric guitar while sandwiched between the dueling lead guitar players John Jeffers and Cody Tate.
Jeffers and Tate are a joy to watch and hear. Sometimes they’ll duel but the competition almost always ended in harmony on some of the most complicated lead electric guitar riffs you will hear in the Texas music scene.
The set list was artfully put together as Cannon brought the crowd down first with the solemn “Broken Window Serenade.” The song, about a high school crush who was not attainable by Cannon, ends in tragedy. The girl, Cannon’s crush, falls to a life of addiction. It was not until her funeral that Cannon gets to say goodbye, but the song questions if the crush will ever know or if Cannon will ever find peace.
I throw in a pretty flower
As they slowly laid you low,
it was a rose I thought you should know…
He repeats it, almost begging for a final answer that she knew about his rose.
Yeah it was a rose.
I thought you should know…
A wildly popular song, no Whiskey Myers concert could be complete without "Broken Window Serenade", but it does kill the party mood for a moment. Cannon doesn’t eradicate that mood right away with a fast song next, however. "Broken Window" fades into a keyboard and solo slide guitar of the hit “Virginia” from the best-selling 2011 record Firewater. This was the first installment as Whiskey Myers gradually lifts the mood of the audience up as each song gets progressively faster and driving harder.
“Glitter Ain’t Gold” was next and by the end, it featured the excellent improvisation of the dual lead guitars of Jeffers and Tate. The guitar solos didn’t fade into repetition like a 1970s Skynyrd concert, either. Instead, the two musicians reconcile their duel with harmonized riffs that can only be fully appreciated in a live show.
Following “Glitter,” darkness overtook the stage with Cannon joining the two lead electric guitars with his telecaster for a long dose of the “Early Morning Shakes.” While the song still has a slow tempo, the bass and drums give it a harder-driving beat. Tasteful use of filters and reverb by the electric guitarists add to the story the song tells. The guitarists offer each other questions and answers. Sometimes the answers are harmonized.
“Bury My Bones” from 2019’s self-title record sped up the concert, and by this time, the audience was back in the grove. Whiskey Myers’ song selection seemed to be selected to bring the audience up into a loud crescendo by the end with “How Far.”
The challenges for Whiskey Myers are the number of ballads the southern rock band has created and made their signature hits. The lights went off again after a resounding improvisational electric guitar duet and Cannon and the boys came right back at the warmed up crowd with “Ballad of a Southern Man.” The crowd sang along wildly but Cannon made sure to remind everyone of the lyrics that, “There’s blood on the table because we work for what we have…”
This time, Whiskey Myers didn’t have time to build the crowd back up over three or four songs so they segued right into the fast rocker, “Bitch.” Once again, the dual guitars did not disappoint. Yet, no one in the audience was quite sure if Whiskey Myers was going to address the elephant in the room. The set was running later than scheduled, way past the 11:30 p.m. curfew, and the hit made famous by the hit streaming series Yellowstone named “Stone” had not been played!
Whiskey Myers did not disappoint. At the end of “Bitch,” “Stone” started with an extended keyboard solo much to the relief of the crowd who sang along with vigor. “Stone” ended and no encore was expected. However, Whiskey Myers kept the crowd happy with a surprise rocker from 1980: Tom Petty’s “Like a Refugee.”
In the middle of Whiskey Myer’s set I pulled up the weather on my phone. It was a cool 91 degrees with a slight breeze. That didn’t seem to deter everyone from having a great time.
Austin Meade and Muscadine Bloodline opened for Whiskey Myers.
The Wild West Fest continues through the week with the finale performance Friday night, August 5, headlined by Turnpike Troubadours.
Here is what is coming up next:
Sunday, July 31, 2022
Kin Faux, 6 p.m. at Fiddlestring’s Bar and Patio, 3301 Arden Rd. From San Antonio, Kin Faux promotes himself at “Industrial Dirt Country Music.” Watch a compilation on YouTube.
Monday, August 1, 2022
Gracie York, 9 p.m. The Penny Tap House, 2412 College Hills Blvd. A few of Graycie’s musical inspirations include... Patsy Cline, Adele, Kaitlin Butts, Miranda Lambert, and Chris Stapleton. Her top song on Spotify is “Texas Rain” with 1.4 million spins.
For more showtimes and ticket information, see the Wild West Fest event page on Stubwire.com.
A personal note
As I watched the show unfold Saturday night, I recalled the first time I saw Whiskey Myers perform during the summer of 2008. No one had heard of them yet so they were openers for The Charlie Shafter Band at a very small venue called Woody’s Tavern on the southwest side of Fort Worth. Next door was a large dancehall called The Horseman where Radney Foster was performing that same night. I was there to cover Foster’s set.
Waiting for Foster to take the stage, I walked next door to Woody’s and arrived towards the end of the Whiskey Myers performance. From the moment I heard them, I knew the band would become a Texas music sensation if the band members kept their focus.
I hung around after their set as Shafter was setting up and talked to Cody Cannon. Cannon was eager to get the story out about his new band. He may have been wondering how someone in the media reacted to the Whiskey Myers set. Heck, he was probably wondering what anyone thought. The bar was mostly empty.
He and his band had just put it out there. They threw every dream they had out into the public and, from the look in Cannon’s eyes, he was telling me that if this failed, they’d probably be waiting tables. Or driving big rigs. Or doing something other than music. The look on Cannon’s face was, “This was really good stuff we just performed. Did you notice? Will anyone?”
Saturday night in San Angelo, everyone noticed. They noticed that Whiskey Myers is now driving the direction of the Texas music scene and this time Cannon didn’t need to talk to me or anyone else to get that point across. Their music and performance spoke for all of it.