When on an uncharted journey it is not uncommon to get lost and led astray. Following beacons and misguided navigational points that slightly betray your gut instincts. True trailblazers don’t let this deter them. Getting lost can be as illuminating as discovering paradise shortly after setting off. Jack Ingram began his trek twenty-five years ago as just another college student seeking six-string freedom. Narrow world-view and narrower guitar skills aside, Ingram displayed early promise as a songwriter and performer. Songs that were real and catchy. Live sets that were rowdy and electric. Unbeknownst to him, he was creating a new subgenre of music. Charting the map of a new touring circuit and industry. Alongside contemporaries such as Pat Green, Charlie Robison and Cory Morrow, Ingram had lit the flame to a fire bigger than any of them could have ever imagined. Along the way, the crowds got larger and the paychecks at the end of the night gained more 0’s. Yet, Ingram always stood out from his peers. A little more unhinged. A little more punk rock (despite the constant proclamations of “My name is Jack Ingram and I play country music.”). A little more artistic. A little more adventurous. A little less scared.
Unafraid to take chances or follow his own path, Ingram shot up through the newly created Texas ranks and straight into Nashville consciousness. A label deal, a record produced by Steve Earle, a cameo in the Sandra Bullock movie Hope Floats, a second label deal, national tv appearances, a third label deal, radio hits. Some of the most groundbreaking and important music to ever come out of Texas was created during this period (Electric and Hey You to be exact). Soon, the Borchetta brass ring came calling. Gone was the Acoustic Motel and in its place was a slick penthouse that didn’t quite ever feel right despite awards and radio success. But, one to never be satisfied or fully quenched, Ingram needed these experiences to confirm within his soul the type of artist he was all along. A true Texas troubadour. Able to hush a listening room with tales and tunes one night and able to drive his beat up Ford to a festival and rock thousands full band rock n’ roll preacher style the next.
An adventure a quarter century in the making is going to have peaks and valleys. Money, fame, success come with sides of debt, doubt and failure. All these elements have combined to make Jack Ingram the songwriter he has become. We should all be grateful that Jack never quit spending time in the midnight motel rooms. A true champion artist. Some folks are singer/songwriters. Jack Ingram is a performer/songwriter that plays country music. He’s one of our greatest treasures. We should all be grateful that he’s still pushing himself. Underneath it all he’s still a 20 year old college kid plucking new chords and trying to figure it all out. He’s just gotten much better at disseminating his emotions. Our emotions. As Walt Wilkins sang, I chose this road. Jack Ingram chose this road and it got him right where he needs to be. I can’t wait to see where he goes next. Midnight Motel is as fantastic a Texas songwriter record as ever has been released.