Back in 2019 Blackbird Production Partners organized a massive once-in-a-lifetime concert event honoring Willie Nelson. It was called “Willie: Life & Songs of an American Outlaw”. The event was recorded for a major broadcast event for the A&E Network and featured performances of Nelson’s biggest hits performed by him and some of the biggest stars of the time. Among those stars was Chris Stapleton, Allison Krauss, and George Strait.
Chris Stapleton performed Nelson’s hit “Whiskey River” and returned later in the show to join Willie Nelson and Derek trucks to perform one of The Red-Haired Stranger’s most iconic tunes: “Always on My Mind.”
Last month Blackbird Production Partners released the concert on both CD and DVD under the title “Willie Nelson American Outlaw.”
The trio really nails “Always on My Mind.” Willie Nelson and Chris Stapleton sound great together vocally. The Kentucky-born singer-songwriter has no problem injecting a little Texas into his voice while sharing the stage with Nelson. Derek Trucks is phenomenal on guitar, as usual. The trio, along with the band behind them, makes this classic tune sound fresh again.
While you can find fan-shot videos of the performance online, they aren’t great. Most of those videos are either from the balcony at the side of the stage or are guaranteed to cause motion sickness. To be fair, it would be hard for anyone to focus on filming with a performance like that taking place. You’d be better off getting the DVD. Let’s be honest, you need it for your collection anyway.
Chris Stapleton and Willie Nelson Have Some Things in Common
Before burning up the charts, earning platinum albums, and winning awards, Chris Stapleton was a songwriter. Like Willie Nelson, he wrote or co-wrote hit songs for some of the biggest stars in country music. You’ve probably heard a few of them. For instance, Stapleton co-wrote Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More” which sat at number one for five weeks. He also co-wrote Josh Turner’s “Your Man.” Stapleton even co-wrote a number-one hit for the King of Country Music, George Strait.
Before kicking off his solo career Chris Stapleton fronted two different bands. In 2007, he started singing for a rock band called The Jompson Brothers. That band dissolved in 2013, two years before Stapleton’s hit album “Traveller” was released. From 2008 to 2010, Stapleton fronted a bluegrass ensemble called The Steeldrivers. They are still currently active.
Much like Willie Nelson, Chris Stapleton scored one of his first number ones by singing a song written by someone else. The song “Tennessee Whiskey” really put Stapleton on the map. It was originally recorded by David Allen Coe and only went to number 77 on the country music charts. Two days after Stapleton performed the song at the CMA Awards with Justin Timberlake it shot to number one. Chris Stapleton’s version of Tennessee Whiskey has been certified six-times platinum.
There’s no denying Stapleton’s talent. If his solo career and time with The Steeldrivers and The Jompson Brothers don’t prove that, this killer performance of “Always on My Mind” definitely will.