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Jack Ingram goes live, wherever you are

By Jeffrey B. Remz, January 2006

To say that Jack Ingram loves doing live albums is an understatement. His brand new, "Live Wherever You Are" continues the longstanding tradition of the Texas country rocker to go live, this time with a brand new Toby-Keith associated label.

In fact, half of Ingram's 12 releases have been live.

Let's see. There was "Live At Adair's" on the long since defunct Rising Tide label (1996), "Unleashed Live" with buddies Charlie and Bruce Robison (2000), "Live at Billy Bob's" (2003), "Acoustic Motel Live (2004) and "Happy Happy...Live at Gruene Hall" (2004).

Safe to say, Ingram, 35, enjoys performing concerts with his Beat Up Ford Band. "I think it has to do with the energy that is captured between the artist, myself and the audience," says Ingram in a telephone interview from Austin where he lives.

"I think it has to do with the energy that is captured between an artist and the audience. When I reach that place with a crowd, it's irreplaceable, and you can't bottle it up. So I just and try to record it. It's something that affects me. I know it affects the people who buy into what I do. Whether it's 10 people or 10,000 people the show that I put on, for whatever reason, when it's going right, it's very intimate. That's why I like putting out live records I guess."

The disc was recorded at Gruene Hall, a famous dance hall in Texas, and actually released by Ingram in 2004 as the "Happy Happy" release. The new version contains a few less songs, two new studio songs and a live cut from a CMT show that aired in November.

"I only did one run of production on it," says Ingram. "because it was pretty much an internet release for my hard core fans. I didn't have anything studio-wise to give them last year. I kind of did it as a way to give my fans something...I had signed on with Big Machine Records, and they loved that (live) record. I know nobody really had it."

"I was in a hurry to get something going as was the label for their reasons. For my reasons, to go and do an entire studio record when I knew they were ready to release a single and get rolling at the beginning of the year, it just seemed like the path of least resistance that I had this live record that I thought was pretty good, and I'm proud of it. I'm known for my live shows. I've been much more successful at selling concert tickets than I have selling records. So far, that's just the way it's been for me."

Ingram acknowledges that a live disc isn't necessarily the best route for an artist, who was previously with two major labels and had no commercial success, to gain a foothold in the marketplace.

"Traditionally, you can't really play them on the radio, and they don't get as much attention, but I'm not a traditional artist. I figured, let's do this. Let's reintroduce me to the entire format that hasn't seen me for a long time and that has really never known me."

Most of the live part of the album contains songs from "Hey You" (1999) with a few from "Electric." (2002)

There tends to be an upbeat quality to the music, and one gets the sense of Ingram's charisma and musicianship on the disc amidst mainly relationship-focused songs.

Ingram gets ultra-serious on "Biloxi," a song about his father, who left his family when Ingram was 17 for Biloxi, Miss.

"I wrote it about 10 years after the fact," says Ingram. "The song is and remains a young man asking what happened because it was obviously not a lack of love or passion for the relationship, and I'm talking between father and son. It's me basically going 'hey man what happened?' A lot of people go ask that question, and a lot of people go through that. I still go back to that place when I play that song."

"I still want to know why. My father and I are fine. We've created a great relationship, but there are still moments when that song rings very true to this day. I see it connecting with young people (because) that experience is fresh in their minds."

"It's never been hard to sing. That's why I wrote it, and that's why I try and write music that is intense and emotional for me because it provides for me almost like therapy."

Ingram say it's "better than free. It actually pays me."

Ingram turns in a cover of Waylon Jennings' "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line."

"We picked up that song one night in Lubbock (Texas). It was a summer tour. We were out kind of aimlessly touring. A lot of times that can lead to stale shows I guess...I was kind of searching for a spark...We were talking about all the great music from west Texas. Waylon was born in Littlefield, which is right out there and spending his time in Lubbock. We just picked up that song, and it automatically sparked with me. It sparked the audience. It sparked the band. It's become kind of a staple for us. Every night it helps me to channel one of my major influences."

"I loved the fact that he was such a man. He was such a bad ass, and he had opinions, and he was strong willed, but above all that, he was so musical. People who think he's such a bad ass and that's his image, but he sang like a bird. He sang harmonies on those Willie Nelson records that are just amazing. He had such a musical way about him. That's what got me. I love the push and pull of his image."

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