Pat Green brings his country flair to Aspen’s Belly Up
The Aspen Times
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.”
But, he said, he does his best to please his hard-core fans, his Texan brethren, and newcomers.
“We’ve gotta 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 from a tour stop in Chicago, where he played alongside Darius Rucker. “So I’ll play the songs they’ve heard on the radio and I’ll play some new stuff and a cover or two.”
The “new stuff” he referred to is his long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s “What I’m For,” his last album of original music. After making “What I’m For,” which hit No. 2 on the country charts and spawned his most recent radio hit in “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.”
He expects to release the new record, tentatively titled “Home,” by the end of this year. It includes, he said, 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 label control. 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 is a return to his indie roots. He says he’ll probably showcase a few of the new songs at tonight’s show.
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 tonight.
“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.”