Shooter Jennings will make his Grand Ole Opry debut next week, a performance he hopes will kick off a smoother relationship with the historic country music show than his father had.
“They would always try to keep themselves in control in one way or another, whether it was letting him use his own musicians or him playing this song or that song or whatever,” Jennings said Tuesday of his dad, the late country legend Waylon Jennings. “But they did that with (Johnny) Cash and all of them.”
Jennings, 28, will perform on the show Tuesday. He said the invitation is encouraging because it’s a sign that one of country’s oldest institutions is receptive to his music.
“I’m really excited,” said Jennings, who will release a new album, “The Wolf,” on Oct. 23. “I think the biggest wall I’m up against is the traditionalists understanding that my heart is in it.”
“I’d like to put together something special for the occasion, maybe pull out a cover, an old Jimmy Dickens song or something,” he said.
Jennings, whose mother is country singer Jessi Colter, spent the first few years of his career as part of the Los Angeles rock band Stargunn.
His 2005 debut album, “Put The O Back in Country,” had a gritty, Southern rock sound and paid tribute to his dad’s outlaw image. He also made a brief appearance as his father in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.”
While he’s been tagged alt-country, Jennings said he hates the label — or any label for that matter.
“It’s one of my biggest pet peeves because I don’t like alt-country,” he said. “It’s almost like a place where late ’80s rockers went that didn’t go to the metal side of things.”
Jennings says his latest album is probably his most traditional to date, even though the first single is a cover of the Dire Straits tune “Walk of Life.”
“There are background singers and a lot more fiddle and the Oak Ridge Boys are on there and Doug Kershaw,” Jennings said. “Lyrically, it’s more personal. But it’s very much a country record.”