Head to Downtown Brew tonight to celebrate the sound of classic country. And with his new album of outlaw classics, I’m suspecting you’ll get treated to your favorite Haggard, Nelson or David Allen Coe cover.
Neo-honky tonker Mark Chesnutt parlayed a solid grounding in classic country into chart-topping stardom. Born in Beaumont, TX, in 1963, Chesnutt grew up listening to his father’s extensive country-record collection (Bob Chesnutt had been a locally popular singer who never hit it big, and thus worked as a used-car salesman). Chesnutt learned both guitar and drums, and made his professional singing debut with his father’s band at age 15 on the local club scene. He even dropped out of high school for a time to pursue music, but later reconsidered and got his diploma; meanwhile, his father began taking him to Nashville for recording sessions. During the ’80s, Chesnutt released singles on local labels like the San Antonio-based Axbar (where he also issued a full album, Doing My Country Thing) and the Houston-based Cherry. He also served as the house headliner at the Beaumont club Cutter’s, where his band often featured future star Tracy Byrd.
Chesnutt’s debut album, Too Cold at Home, was released in 1990, and the title track became his first hit, climbing into the country Top Five. With a style that blended George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Bob Wills, Chesnutt went on to score four more Top Ten hits from the album: the number one “Brother Jukebox,” “Blame It on Texas,” “Your Love Is a Miracle,” and “Broken Promise Land.” Rollin’ with the Flow appeared in 2008, another steady, consistent, remarkable country record, filled with great songs, amazing musicians, stellar production, and — of course — his clear, clean, expressive voice. This year brings 2010’s Outlaws, which featured covers of outlaw country classics.