Son of a gun

Waymore’s Outlaws and Shooter Jennings return

By Tim Smith

Photo: Waymore’s Outlaws, the evolution of Waylon Jennings’ backup band, play Indian Creek Amphitheatre June 25 photo: Trent Houghton

Waymore’s Outlaws were born in 1961 as The Waylors, the backup band for country legend Waylon Jennings. They continued in this capacity in concerts and the recording studio until Jennings’ death in 2002. They struck out on their own as a successful country rock band until their representatives at Artist Events Nashville had the idea to pair them up with Jennings’ son, Shooter Jennings.

“Shooter Jennings and Waymore’s Outlaws have been touring together constantly since January 2014,” agent Trent Houghton says. “They have done runs all across the country and Canada since. In late 2013, we thought it would be a great opportunity to team Shooter up with members of his dad’s original band backing him in the show, doing his own material mixed in with Waylon’s music. The first few shows in early 2014 were so successful it became a full-time thing.”

Apparently, the pairing took hold with fans, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down.

“They performed about 50 shows together in 2014, about 60 in 2015 and will do around 70 this year,” Houghton says. “There is a big demand for outlaw country music right now, and fans get very excited for the chance to see the legendary performance of Waymore’s Outlaws with Shooter Jennings. It is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We typically book anywhere from three to eight months in advance—this varies greatly depending on routing, markets and season.”

The current lineup consists of Jerry Bridges, Richie Albright, Fred Newell and Tommy Townsend. Jerry “Jigger” Bridges has been with the group since 1980, and he has a unique perspective on the experience of being part of Waylon’s act.

“We saw the world standing behind a legend,” he says. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

“Outlaw country” music is a subgenre of country music, and it had its roots in honky-tonk and rockabilly. It began as a reaction to the slick production values and commercialization of the Nashville sound. Waylon Jennings was one of the early examples of outlaw music because he had to fight with his record label for the right to use his back-up band on his studio recordings. It was a battle he won, which Bridges doesn’t find surprising.

“He was a kind, caring, honest man that took good care of his people,” Bridges says.

Although they were originally known as The Waylors, it was Jennings himself who inspired the group’s current handle.

“Waylon changed the name several times,” Bridges says. “It was the Waylors, then the Waylon Jennings Band and finally The Waymore’s Blues Band. I came up with the name Waymore’s Outlaws in 2008.  Waylon had several nicknames and Waymore is what we called him most. The ‘outlaw’ part is obvious.”

Bridges is quick to point out that although they play on the nostalgia factor, there’s a genuine connection to the original music. There are also certain songs that fans expect to hear.

“When they hear us play a song, they are listening to the record,” he insists. “We actually played on the albums. We are not a cover band—we are the band! Waylon had over 70 albums, so we have a lot to choose from. We try to change things up about every six months, but “Dukes of Hazzard” is always a must. We decide on the songs we play, and we would never choose something that we don’t like performing.”

In addition to fan favorites, they manage to work new material into the act.

“They are received well,” Bridges says. “Richie Albright and I produced a lot of Waylon’s music. Even the new stuff we write is in the same vein.”

Waymore’s Outlaws performs at a variety of venues throughout the year, from stadiums to clubs, but the response is always the same.

“We have enthusiastic crowds where ever we go,” he says. “That’s what Waylon fans are.  Always have been! For 30-plus years, we’ve played them all. We like to be close to the people. Clubs give us that opportunity.”

Many bands have found lasting appeal because their music crosses over from one generation to another, and Bridges agrees.

“I’ll share a story,” he says. “We played the Lollapalooza tour with Metallica. James Hetfield and Waylon were close friends. We were at a bar one night, and I asked James for an autograph for my kids. He asked me for an autograph for his mother.”

In addition to a busy concert schedule, the Outlaws still find time to get back into the studio. Their latest album, Keeping the Spirit Alive, came out last year, and they are working on a new yet-to-be-titled album. Bridges has three reasons why Waymore’s Outlaws have stayed together for so many years:

“Love for the music, love for each other and love for Waylon.”

Shooter Jennings and Waymore’s Outlaws will perform at the Indian Creek Amphitheatre, 6206 Main St., in Oxford on Saturday, June 25. The doors open at 4 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $40. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 513.756.9400 or visit 


Tim Smith is an award-winning bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at

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