The Westport Roots Festival is run, hosted, and worked by passionate fans of all styles of American roots music. It’s a wide variety of music, and we all had to start somewhere. For most of us, that start came from country music, often of the outlaw variety. When we come across a modern musician playing outlaw country just as mean as we remember, it’s like being a kid on Christmas. When we get a chance to feature a genuine outlaw country star at the Westport Roots Festival, we feel like we’re the ones playing Santa Claus. We couldn’t be more excited about one of our presents this year: outlaw troubadour Jesse Dayton.
Jesse Dayton has been doing his part to keep the classic outlaw sound alive for over twenty years, and each year he seems to work his way further out of the underground. Born in Beaumont, Texas to the kind of parents who would rather see him perform at Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Barbecue Picnic than the Grand Ol’ Opry (God bless them), Jesse took to country music with teeth. As a young man, he earned the chance of a lifetime when he was invited to play guitars on Waylon Jennings’s 1996 album Right for the Time. Soon after, he started a record label and recorded his own solo albums. He has been a prolific music maker since, putting out nine of his own albums and providing guitar work for country legends Willie Nelson, Ray Price, and Glen Campbell, and more.
Back in 2004, horror film director and heavy metal musician Rob Zombie hired Jesse to write and record an album-full of throwback 70’s-style country songs for his film The Devil’s Rejects. The resulting soundtrack showed off both his love of classic country and his sense of humor, with songs like “I’m at Home Getting Hammered (While She’s Out Getting Nailed)”, and it turned out to be Dayton’s biggest hit album. Even better, the movie and soundtrack introduced him to a mess of classic country fans who figured that no one was making country music like they used to.
In the past decade, Dayton has kept as busy as a working musician can hope. He worked on the soundtrack to Mr. Zombie’s Halloween II, produced albums for other artists including The Supersuckers singer Eddie Spaghetti, and even wrote and directed a horror film called Zombex. All this is in addition to writing music, recording a mess of albums, and touring the country and world with his band of Austin musicians. He even got that chance to play as a headliner at Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Barbecue Picnic. To hear him tell it, his mama was real proud.
Jesse’s newest album, The Revealer, is twelve tracks of pure outlaw country, and it proves that in over twenty years Jesse Dayton hasn’t lost a single step. Among its gems is an instant classic homage to “No Show” George Jones, “Possum Ran Over My Grave”, on which Dayton breaks down in a few lines what makes real country music so special:
When it comes to music there ain’t but a few
That can raise the hair on you
Like the Star-Spangled Banner and Amazing Grace
Are the words to an old country tune
It’s like the feeling you get when a George Jones song plays…
The Westport Roots Festival is proud to bring Jesse Dayton, one of today’s kings of outlaw country, to Kansas City in May 2017. For those of us who cut our teeth on Willie and Waylon, anyone who can play like an old outlaw is practically a saint. Click the link to buy a ticket and reserve your place to bask in outlaw glory.