Jack Ingram

Pearl Street Warehouse Presents

Jack Ingram

Travis Meadows

Sat · April 7, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm


This event is 21 and over

This show is G.A.

Seating is limited and first come first serve.

Tables are meant to be shared.

Jack Ingram
Jack Ingram
Throughout a recording career that has spanned more than 20 years, Jack Ingram has maintained a reputation for uncompromising, personally charged song craft and energetic, charismatic performances, earning him prominent stature in a prestigious tradition of iconoclastic singer-songwriters. Ingram’s prior work has won him a fiercely devoted fan base as well as reams of critical acclaim, and now Midnight Motel marks a creative milestone for the veteran artist, his sound ever evolving while showcasing some of his most expressive, emotionally raw songwriting to date.

Ingram made Midnight Motel independently to avoid outside influences and have creative freedom to write and record. “It was really important to me at this point in my life to avoid thinking about any commercial decisions about the music,” explains Ingram. “Every night after my kids went to bed, I’d go into my music room and stay in there until about three or four, just working out the songs like I did at the beginning of my career. Or while on the road, sit up late at night writing in motel rooms. I wanted to bring people into that space with me.”

And so Midnight Motel turned into an album that is as real and honest as it could be. “Signing with Rounder Records to release this album was a perfect fit because of their expertise and love for good music, no matter the genre,” Ingram says.

His eighth studio album, and his first since his 2009 smash Big Dreams & High Hopes, Midnight Motel features spare, stripped-down instrumental arrangements that highlight the intimacy and urgency of such new originals as “I’m Drinking Through It,” “Nothing to Fix,” “Can’t Get Any Better Than This,” and “All Over Again.” The album’s organic late-night vibe is perfectly suited to the material, and brings out the emotional edge in Ingram’s deeply felt vocals.

Midnight Motel was cut with Ingram and the musicians recording live in the same room, with minimum overdubbing or sonic trickery. With understated audio-verite production by fellow Texas singer-songwriter Jon Randall and a stellar studio band including guitarist Charlie Sexton (Bob Dylan, Arc Angels) and drummer Chad Cromwell (Neil Young, Dire Straits), along with bassist Robert Kearns and keyboardist Bukka Allen from Ingram’s longstanding Beat Up Ford Band, the 11-song set demonstrates how Ingram’s artistry has widened and deepened over time.

“I couldn’t have made this record when I was 25, because I just didn’t have the experience then,” he asserts, adding, “It’s kind of a concept record, but it’s a loose concept. There’s the late-night thing, and the travel, and then there’s the concept about not letting go of the important relationships, even if they’re not working. These songs are all about loving, troubled longterm relationships, whether it’s with the music business or my wife or my family.”

The road to Midnight Motel has been a long and sometimes rocky one for Ingram, who was named Best New Male Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music in 2008, despite the fact that he’d already been rocking honky tonks, theaters, and stadiums for a decade and a half by then. He began writing songs and playing gigs while studying psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and quickly earned a rabidly devoted audience while performing high-energy live shows in bars and roadhouses throughout his home state.

Ingram’s remarkably loyal fans enthusiastically embraced his early, independently released albums Jack Ingram, Lonesome Questions, and Live At Adair’s. His indie success helped to win him acceptance within the Nashville major-label mainstream, and he expanded his constituency with such acclaimed national releases as Livin’ or Dyin’, Hey You, Electric, Young Man as well as the live albums Live at Billy Bob’s Texas, Live at Gruene Hall: Happy Happy, and Acoustic Motel.

Ingram moved to the Big Machine label with 2006’s Wherever You Are, which spawned a pair of major country hits in the title track, which became his first Number One single, and its Top 20 follow-up, “Love You.” His next studio effort, 2007’s This Is It, hit the Top Five on the U.S. country charts and produced a trio of hits in “Lips of An Angel,” “Measure of A Man,” and “Maybe She’ll Get Lonely.” Big Dreams & High Hopes followed two years later, spawning five chart singles, including the Top 10 “Barefoot and Crazy” and the Top 20 “That’s A Man.”

For Midnight Motel, Ingram was looking to create something different. “Something inside me was itching to do this,” he recalls. “The pressure in my chest was just so heavy that the only way I could get it off was to write these songs. Frank Liddell, who produced my record Electric in 2001, gave me some great advice: he said, ‘Go away and do something great while no one’s looking.’ That became my motto for this project. I just decided that I was just gonna do the best work I could do, and have it take as long as it takes. I didn’t care about trying to be technically perfect; I just wanted to be emotionally available. I can honestly say it was the best recording experience I’ve ever had. The waters got rough, but I really had a ball and enjoyed navigating that course.”

Rather than shooting conventional music videos to promote Midnight Motel, Ingram and noted filmmaker Michael Tully (Ping Pong Summer, Septien) have created a short companion-piece film incorporating the album’s songs and featuring Ingram as a troubled troubadour. The short film was screened at both the Dallas International Film Festival and the Nashville Film Festival.
Travis Meadows
Travis Meadows
Travis Meadows spent years trying to escape himself. He’s anything but selfish, so he’d find a way to get away––a bottle, a bag, a sermon––and he’d share it with everyone. That was then. Now, Meadows isn’t trying to get anybody lost or high. Instead, he’s trying to get every single one of us to settle in deeply to ourselves––and love what’s there.

“I feel like what I’m doing is giving people permission to be okay with who they are, where they’re at now,” Meadows says. “A lot of us say stuff like, ‘If I’d been married to this guy or this girl, or if I had enough money, or if I had a better job. If I wasn’t an alcoholic, or if I drank more. If this, if that, then, I think I could be a better person.’” He pauses. “I think the key to life is being okay with who you are.”

Meadows isn’t just waxing poetic about the perks of self-acceptance. The 52-year-old has clawed his way to the peace he’s found, and his willingness to map that journey through his songs has saved more lives than his own. On his anxiously awaited new album First Cigarette, Meadows proves once again that when he sings the truth he’s living, he can set us all free. “I’ve always put secrets in my records, but I had this ring of fire that nobody could get in––a defense mechanism from my childhood. Nobody gets too close,” he says. “I think this record is a way of me letting people in a little more, inside the ring of fire.”

Disciples have been dancing by Meadows’ fire for years. Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Mary Gauthier, Brandy Clark, Blackberry Smoke, Hank Williams, Jr., Wynonna Judd, Randy Houser, and others began writing with, recording, and praising Meadows as soon as they heard his work. Songs such as “Riser,” the title track for Bentley’s 2015 album; Church’s “Knives of New Orleans” and “Dark Side”; and Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got” are all Meadows-penned chart-climbers.

Much of the attention began in 2010, when Meadows self-released Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, a raw masterpiece that left listeners stunned. “I was in rehab, and one of my counselors suggested that I keep a journal, so I basically made a record out of that journal,” Meadows says. It became an unlikely phenomenon, handed from friend to friend and artist to artist with whispers of, Listen. It’s the best thing you’ll hear all year. In 2013, Meadows followed Killin’ Uncle Buzzy with the acclaimed Old Ghosts and Unfinished Business. “On Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, you’re listening to a guy trying to figure out how to get sober,” Meadows says. “Then two years later, I was sober, but I wasn’t that guy anymore. That’s what ‘Old Ghosts’ was––me just trying to move forward. I feel like this record is more accessible. People can listen and go, ‘Well, hell. I’ve done that, too.’”

An intimate record utilizing just Meadow’s blues-hewn voice and mostly acoustic guitar with pops of electric and other strings, First Cigarette is an intensely relatable meditation on love, acceptance, and redemption––an artistic and personal triumph, especially for a man whose early life was defined by loss and pain. At the age of two, Meadows watched his baby brother drown. When his parents divorced, he wound up living with his grandparents rather than either of his parents. “My dad went and got married and had a baby, and they were almost a normal family,” Meadows says. “And my mother also went and almost had a normal family, whatever that is.” His thick Mississippi accent makes the ‘r’ at the end of father and mother soft in his mouth. “I was over there with my grandparents like, ‘Well what the hell happened to me? Why am I not good enough to be part of that family?’ I carried that resentment for a long time.”

Adversity would remain a constant in Meadows’ youth. At the age of eleven, he began using drugs. At fourteen, he was diagnosed with cancer. He would go on to beat the disease, but not before it cost him his right leg from just below the knee. Meadows picked himself up and began playing drums––“They’d sneak me in the back door and I would play for people in bars”––but tired of lugging all that gear and picked up the harmonica. “I could put all my instruments in a Crown Royal bag, and I would sing and play the blues,” he says. Then, in his 20s, Meadows underwent another conversion: he became a Christian. He preached across the South and in 20-something countries for 17 years. “Preachers fall hard,” he says. “I had some questions I didn’t like the answers to. So I quit and went back to my old friend alcohol.”

First Cigarette benefits from all of the battles Meadows has lost and won, including his now seven years––and counting––of sobriety. Album opener “Sideways” is a gut punch. A blend of confession and advice, the song explores what happens when emotion is stifled. Meadows wrote “Sideways” after performing and speaking at an adolescent addiction treatment center. He asked the kids there, all younger than 18, if anyone wanted to share their story. A girl raised her hand, spoke, and broke Meadows’ heart. “She floored me,” he says. “I said, ‘Well, I’d want to get high too. How did that make you feel?’ One tear came down her cheek. She rubbed it away and said, ‘I don’t feel nothin’.’ One of the counselors and I were talking later. If the only tool you have is a hammer, you’re going to treat everything in your life like a nail.”

“Pray for Jungleland” channels Bruce Springsteen as it celebrates him, nostalgic for love at eighteen and a world that revolves around Friday night. Written with Drew Kennedy, the song is the first of several on the album that capture youth with misty-eyed levity––a departure from Uncle Buzzy that Meadows is clearly enjoying. “McDowell Road” serves as a thematic bookend for “Jungleland,” while the slow-building “Pontiac” offers anchoring advice and warm memories as hopes for young hearts.

A standout on an album stacked with gems, “First Cigarette” features searing vocals that shift back and forth between defiant muscle and naked delicacy. “I am little more content, I am little more content with who I am than who I was,” Meadows sings. “I have learned to love the comfort when it comes, like the first cigarette the morning buzz.” Written with Connie Harrington, “Hungry” showcases Meadows’ unique ability to haunt and soothe at the same time. “Hunger is the thing that motivates us to get up and try again,” he says. “I pray that I never lose that hunger.” The gorgeous “Better Boat” takes another moving look at Meadows’ hard-won contentment.

“Life can be a little challenging for all of us. It’s beautiful and it’s tragic, it’s awesome and it hurts,” Meadows says. “I hope people sense that through this record and want to come to a show, which is a lot of storytelling, a lot of tears, a lot of laughter. They’ll come face to face with a damn lot of humanity. I hope they see themselves in it.”
Venue Information:
Pearl Street Warehouse
33 Pearl St SW
Washington, DC, 20024