Jack Ingram plays free concert today | SteamboatToday.com

Jack Ingram plays free concert today

Margaret Hair

— During his free concert at last year's MusicFest at Steamboat, country musician Jack Ingram played his entire set wearing ski goggles and a T-shirt. It was the Texas-roadhouse-bred, Nashville-label-affirmed singer's way of saying, "Well, it's snowing. A lot. Whatever. We're here. Let's muscle through this thing, and let's have fun doing it."

Ingram, who took home Best New Male Vocalist honors from the Academy of Country Music in 2008, has approached his 15 years of making earnest country music with a similar attitude.

Almost every time he takes the stage, he uses the same introduction: "My name is Jack Ingram, and I play country music." From there the sound is his own, a survivalist blend of influences from his favorites — Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty and others who made the records he grew up with — and his own way of telling stories.

"For me it's just really easy. It's all me; it's all stuff that I love and stuff that I believe in, whether it's a mainstream country hit or a barroom brawl," Ingram said.

At 1:30 p.m. today, Ingram returns to the Gondola Square stage for his third free concert there, notching his sixth or seventh performance as part of the MusicFest at Steamboat. Western-style musician Doug Moreland opens the show.

Taking a break from snowboarding at Steamboat Ski Area on Thursday morning, Ingram reflected on his years of songwriting and pavement pounding before he started scoring hits in Nashville, Tenn.

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"For the years before that, I had a bunch of success in the dancehalls and the honky-tonks of Texas. Before I had hits on the radio I knew what a hit was by what people wrote down on a napkin and asked me to play that night," Ingram said.

He expects that most of the crowd at today's show will be able to sing along to many of his songs, whether they learned the words on the radio or in some Texas dancehall. In either case, Ingram said he approaches songs in the same way — just trying to get through the writing process and put out something good.

The end results of that process have evolved as Ingram has gained perspective, he said.

"I think there are changes every time, just like everybody makes changes in their life both personally and professionally. I'm not the same guy I was when I was 20 years old, and hopefully in 20 years I won't be the same guy I am today," he said.

Through that evolution, Ingram has held on to the attitude he learned from listening to his biggest influences. It's a way of thinking that encourages him to "do your own thing, pave your own way, make your music," Ingram said.

"I think that attitude shapes the songs by always trying to find your own voice. Obviously, I'm influenced by certain artists, but the goal here is to try to carve out a unique place for your own art," he said.

Today's public MusicFest celebration gets going at about 1:15 p.m., with a Cajun cookout and a washer tournament. Doug Moreland is scheduled to take the stage at about 1:30 p.m.

If you go

What: Jack Ingram and Doug Moreland, performing as part of MusicFest at Steamboat; presented by Dickson Productions and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

When: 1:30 p.m. today

Where: Gondola Square at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area

Cost: Free

Call: 970-879-6111

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