The show started at 10:30—a little on the late side for a weekday—but the crowd piled in as dense as corn pudding, and Shaver reciprocated with a two-hour set. Unhindered by his physical limitations (new knee, recent heart attack, stent, bicep surgery, missing two fingers on his right hand, not to mention probably a compromised liver), Shaver danced and cavorted around the tiny stage, acting out many of his storied exploits, especially when describing his love life: “Short ones, tall ones, I tell you, I did everything but farm animals,” he said at one point. One highlight was his story of his near suicide—when he shot several holes in his bedroom walls instead of his head (“My wife was sure mad. I had a lot of explaining to do,” he recalled)—which preceded the relevant song from his new album.
The real deal and original Outlaw (Shaver wrote most of the songs on Waylon Jennings’ landmark album Honky Tonk Heroes), Shaver hasn’t lost a step and performed many of his hits, including “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal,” “Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me” and “When I Get My Wings,” along with new material. After the show, Shaver graciously signed and posed for photos near his merch table for the better part of an hour. Next to his new album Live at Billy Bob’s Texas sat a pile of bumper stickers for sale. Encapsulating Shaver’s persona, the sticker read “If you don’t love Jesus, you can go to Hell.” Perfect.
– Suzanne Cadgene