When Hank Williams sang his sad country songs some 60 years ago, there was a distinct wail in his voice.
When Jamey Johnson does a ballad, the tenderness and hurt of the song is is accented by his voice, sad eyes, and trepid demeanor.
Johnson, a mountain of a man with the appearance of a mountain man, was at Penn's Peak last night. His song set consisted mostly of the type of song traditional country music is about - life's sad chapters.
The rising star who had three Grammy nominations in 2008 performed virtually non-stop for 2 1/2 hours, singing a total of 30 songs.
He did little talking during the show, just greeting the fans with a "How 'ya all doing?" after his fourth number, introducing his band, and a couple of one-line comments here and there. Also, a couple of his songs contained some spoken dialogue.
It was obvious his audience loved him. They cheered every move he made, every note he sang, every brief comment he uttered in his deep, Southern drawl.
Besides having obvious talent as a song-writer, Johnson proved exceptional at handling a guitar.
Many of the songs he sang were self-written, including his closing number, "Give It Away." This was a number one hit for country superstar George Strait.
For many of the songs, especially "Give It Away," the audience sang along with him. At times, between numbers, he held up his red, plastic drinking cup as to share a toast with the fans.
Original songs he sang included "Mary Go Round," "High Cost of Living," and his own hit single, "In Color."
Another self-penned number was "Somewhere Between Jennings and Jones," which best describes his style - it being similar to Waylon Jennings and George Jones. He utilized this title to remind audience members that soon his albums will be available at Wal-mart, and because his name is Johnson they'll be located "between Jennings and Jones."
The entertainer wore a plaid, flannel shirt, worn jeans, and sported long hair with a full beard and mustache.
He interjected a lot of ballads - both self-composed and cover tunes including "All That I Can Think About Is You," which he wrote; "The Door Is Always Open," a hit for Waylon Jennings which Johnson has on his newest CD, and "She's A Lady," which was a charted song by Alabama.
He did several other Jennings songs including "Write Your Own Song," which is a protest against the way the business world of country music functions.
He also sang the country classic "Crazy," which was a hit for the legendary Patsy Cline and then re-recorded by Willie Nelson.
There were people in the audience who had traveled from New Jersey, New York, and Maryland for the concert.
Jennifer Hunt of Nichols, N.Y., a small town just north of the Pennsylvania border near Sayre, said this is the fourth time she has seen Johnson in concert.
She said she drove over three hours for the Penn's Peak show. Previously, she drove four hours to see him in Buffalo, N.Y. and once went to a concert by him at Croc Rock in Allentown.
Hunt said she admires him because he writes his own song and for "that traditional sound" for which he is noted.
She said she first heard of Johnson when his hit song "In Color" was played on the radio, and it persuaded her to purchase his CD.
"Once you buy the CD you'll fall in love because he's so good," she said.
It was the second of two concerts this past weekend at Penn's Peak.
On Saturday night, over 1,000 people attended a concert by "Bruce in the USA," a tribute to Bruce Springsteen.
Coming Friday night to Penn's Peak is Rick Springfield, a native Australian who had a hit with "Jessie's Girl," appeared as Dr. Noah Drake on the hit TV soap opera "General Hospital," and starred in the movie "Hard to Hold."