‘Drinking Days’ are here again: Pat Green returns to Belly Up Aspen
If You Go …
Who: Pat Green
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, July 8, 9 p.m.
How much: $30-$75
Tickets: Belly Up box office; www.bellyupaspen.com
As a standard bearer of Texas country, Pat Green brings out cowboy boots and Stetsons in the crowd wherever he goes on tour. He knows how to pen a Lone Star state anthem — “I Like Texas” and “Southbound 35” among them — and has a knack for fratty country rock hits like “Wave on Wave” and “Feels Like It Should” and his new single “Drinking Days.”
But, he said on a recent swing through Aspen, he does his best to please everybody from his hard-core fans to his Texan brethren to newcomers.
“We’ve got to play the stuff for the people that’ve been there 1,000 times and for the folk’s who’ve never seen us before,” he said. “So I’ll play the songs they’ve heard on the radio and I’ll play some new stuff and a cover or two.”
After making 2009’s “What I’m For,” which hit No. 2 on the country charts and spawned the hit “Let Me,” Green soured on recording with his label, Nashville-based BNA Records.
“I was tired of making records by committee,” he said. “There’s some guy sitting in the room with you telling you what to do. So I left and started doing other stuff, writing different kinds of songs. It’s more organic, and I’m more at peace with this record.”
So he came back on his own with “Home,” self-released, in 2015 and including guest appearances from Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, Delbert McClinton and Marc Broussard
It should come as no surprise that the self-styled, self-made country star — who emerged as a sort of anti-Garth Brooks in the late ‘90s — chafed under the control of his label. Green first made a name for himself in Texas and across the South in the ‘90s by barnstorming clubs and honky-tonks, selling tapes out of the back of his car. College kids traded his independently released CDs around campuses in the late 1990s, which led him to sold-out club shows, then arenas and, eventually, stadiums like the Astrodome and a major label record deal.
After three self-released records, he signed to Universal for 2001’s “Three Days” and followed it with the national hits “Wave on Wave” and “Lucky Ones,” then bounced to BNA for “Cannonball” and “What I’m For.”
Jumping ship from the majors was a return to his indie roots.
Along with his albums of original songs, Green has proved himself a thoughtful interpreter of others’ songs, on his two “Songs We Wished We’d Written” releases. The first, from 2001, with Cory Morrow, offered his takes on Waylon Jennings, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and other legends. The sequel, released in 2012, highlighted Lyle Lovett and Tom Petty alongside a diverse array of lesser-known writers.
Choosing a good cover song is simpler than you might think for Green.
“It’s like when you eat a good steak or sandwich, or taste a good beer — you just know a good song when you hear it,” he said. “You say, ‘I want to hear that song 20 times in an hour.’”
Colorado was one of the first places Green began playing outside Texas as his national profile rose. And Green has made frequent stops in recent years at Belly Up, where he returns on Saturday night.
“Colorado and Texas, that’s a brother-sister relationship,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything without Colorado. I love Colorado. I get a little contentious with it sometimes, but when I’m there I’m more respectful of people’s opinions.”
His shows have a well-earned reputation as dependably rowdy affairs. He’s mellowed some, he says, but not all the way.
“It’s still got a Jerry Jeff [Walker] flavor to it,” he said. “Somebody’s gonna get drunk and spill a beer on a girl.”
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