For the first time in more than a decade, if not longer, Jack Ingram came home to The Woodlands for a show. Sure, he'd played the likes of Big Texas in Spring just down the highway and countless other smoky joints in and around Houston, but as far as a proper Woodlands show, Ingram, who was a 1988 graduate of McCullough High School, has been conspicuously absent.
Early on in his hour-and-a-half show at Dosey Doe on Oct. 13, he explained one of the reasons why, recounting the well-known falling out he had as a teenager with his father.
“ I've been hearing about [Dosey Doe] for a while, and I've always regretted turning it down,” he said. “But that's mostly because my father asked me.”
The jab made the situation all the more awkward because much of his family and old friends were in attendance.
Ingram “got out of the way” early on his soul-emptying tongue-lashing to his father, “Biloxi,” in which he asks “Where in hell did you go?/You left us all alone/I wasn't even 18.”
However, he quickly set everyone at ease with what he called “Biloxi, Part 2,” and in actuality called “Measure of a Man,” about reconciling with his father after years of animosity, saying before the tune, “It's not how you start the race, it's how you finish.”
Ingram notoriously takes his time between studio albums. For several years, his live shows with his full band—while always featuring over-the-top energy—followed a similar set list. Recently, however, Ingram has been peppering his act with new tunes, such as the show opener “The Stuff That Works,” and the outlaw ode “Higher Than Willie (And Jonesing for Haggard).” One of the new tunes even ended with an old friend in the crowd proposing to his girlfriend at its conclusion (she said 'Yes').
Although he released his first studio album in 1993, Ingram didn't really appear on the national scene until 2007 with his first No. 1 hit “Wherever You Are,” which he performed to an enthusiastic response. Ironically, in 2008 he won the Academy of Country Music's “New Artist of the Year” award more than a decade after he released his first music.
That concept of fame, whether it be coming or going, is one that Ingram both sings and jokes about. He has experienced it himself at times, and seen it happen to others, through tours with a young Taylor Swift and an at-his-peak Brad Paisley.
During his Dosey Doe show, which was part of his ongoing “Acoustic Motel” tour, Ingram recounts seeing first hand Swift's swift rise to fame, and questioning exactly why country pop singer Kelly Pickler would sunbathe in front of his tour bus during each stop.
If Ingram were to call off his singing career, which admittedly would be tragic, he would certainly have a career as fantastic storyteller. His tales centered, like most great country singer-songwriters, on conflict: with fame, with family, with friends, with the “Nashville Sound” and even within himself.
His self-deprecating humor turned half the show into a comedy act. The tales melded so seamlessly into and out of songs, it was more performance art than concert.
Of course, the hits were there, with “Barefoot and Crazy” and a rollicking “Barbie Doll,” during which he brought the crowd to its feet with the obligatory call-and-response portion of the chorus.
Since 2002's brilliant “Electric,” Ingram has been smartly closing his show with “Goodnight Moon,” a slow ballad about, appropriately enough, saying goodnight and that he'll miss us. It was during this tune that the show's most poignant moment occurred.
Prior to the final verse, Ingram unplugged his acoustic guitar, stepped out from behind the microphone and onto the edge of the stage to lead the crowd, and dozens of family and friends, through the final few lines.
Ingram's ability to connect with his audience at Dosey Doe, his stories, and strong tunes made this performance one of the recent best at the best venue in the county.