Jennings’ Hierophant Goes A Proggin’

Shooter Jennings isn’t exactly a card-carrying member of the progressive rock community. That’s why his new album and tour are so fascinating.

Jennings and a few members of his backing band, The .357s, form the core of Hierophant. The new album – Black Ribbons – has been described as a psychedelic rock album where “Floydian soundscapes float above smoking slabs of whiskey-soaked southern soul.”

Huh? This from the son of the late, great Waylon Jennings? The man who helped spearhead country music’s outlaw movement more than 30 years ago?

Clearly something has changed.

Released earlier this year, Black Ribbons has its roots in a RV coast-to-coast road trip Jennings took in 2008 during the economic meltdown. While he was making the New York to Los Angeles journey, Jennings kept one ear to the radio.

“I remember sitting there in the driver’s seat listening to whatever I could find on the radio,” Jennings said. “I would tune in to various AM stations, talk shows, political commentary, and some very dark and bizarre stuff that you can only find while twisting the dials in the middle of nowhere.

“There was so much fear and speculation about how America and the rest of the world was going to survive – if at all – and so many people more than willing to exploit it. A very clear picture of a looming police state and a very dark oppressive worldwide political regime began to reveal itself.”

The result of Jennings’ mixing the economic news of 2008 with a fervent imagination is an album that doesn’t fall into any predefined genre or styling. For starters, Black Ribbons features Stephen King as the voice of a late night radio talk show host whose handle is “Will O’ The Wisp.”

As King provides the cohesive narration tying the album’s songs together, Jennings and Hierophant provide the musical context, serving tunes that sometimes sound as if you’ve just landed in an alternative universe where Roger Waters grew up in Nashville or Elvis’ twin brother, who died at birth, actually survived and became Syd Barrett. This isn’t your typical Shooter album.

Nor is this your typical Shooter Jennings tour as Hierophant hits the road. The outing begins, appropriately enough, in Eclectic, Ala., at the Lake Martin Amphitheater, plays Saint Petersburg’s State Theatre Sept. 7 and Orlando’s Social Sept. 8. Other stops include New Orleans, Atlanta, Charleston, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Nashville.

“I know some folks may be surprised at how different this record is compared to my previous works, but I’m sure once they dig in they’ll find something that speaks to them,” Jennings said. “After all, it’s the twisted road that matters, not the destination.”

For more information, click here for the Shooter Jennings website.