Chris Stapleton brings his All-American Road Show to The Forum
By Bliss Bowen
Once in a generation a voice comes along like Chris Stapleton’s electrifying tenor: “smooth as Tennessee whiskey … as sweet as strawberry wine,” as his signature hit goes, a thrilling instrument wielded with gusto by a country artist who properly recognizes his roots in soul, bluegrass and Southern rock.
In recent years Jason Isbell, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Margo Price and Sturgill Simpson have all arguably helped return outlaw spirit and literate intelligence to country music. But when Stapleton, wife Morgane Stapleton (whose exquisite lockstep harmonies are like his sonic second self), and Justin Timberlake delivered an explosive mashup of “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” at the CMA Awards in 2015, notice was served to the mainstream: Country music was on a new road, and from that night onward Stapleton was leading the way.
Stapleton took home three awards that night (for Album, Male Vocalist, and New Artist of the Year), and his album “Traveller” topped the Billboard 200 chart shortly thereafter. (It was certified triple platinum in June.) Since then he’s earned a truckload of AMA, ACM, ASCAP, CMA and Grammy Awards, and last year he released two widely praised albums, “From A Room” volumes one and two.
As a songwriter, the burly, bearded Kentuckian’s a genuine craftsman who paid a decade’s worth of dues writing hits for Kenny Chesney, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and Blake Shelton, among others. That won regard from Nashville industry honchos to match the respect he already commanded among fellow artists for his thorough grasp of country history and songwriting.
Currently barnstorming the country on a tour that extends well into the fall, Stapleton’s taken to bringing opener Brent Cobb onstage to duet on Stapleton’s “Might as Well Get Stoned”; the long-haired Georgia native’s not in that vocal league, but he’s a damn fine songwriter who’s reintroducing country-funk grooves into country not heard since the late-1960s/early-’70s heyday of J.J. Cale, Bobby Charles and Bobbie Gentry.
Onetime child prodigy turned elder statesman Marty Stuart, whose sartorial and guitar flash have been matched in recent years by newfound vocal resonance, occupies the tour’s middle slot with his accurately named Fabulous Superlatives band. Stapleton also invites him out during his set for a couple of duets on Stuart songs — generously giving props to friends and influences like a man who knows where he wants to go and also remembers where he’s from.
Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show with Brent Cobb and Marty Stuart rolls into The Forum (3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18. Tickets are $39 to $243. Call (844) 379-0370 or visit chrisstapleton.com.