“The more beer you drink, the better we sound.”
Attend a concert or a one-man show by singer Jesse Gutierres and you’ll be treated to a classic country, honky-tonk, boot-tapping evening. His rich baritone with occasional twang is reminiscent of Gutierres’ old time heroes, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr.
With a slight southern accent, Gutierres is at ease in front of the audience as a solo gig or with either of his bands, Jesse & The Medicine Men or Hillbilly Air Show. He sets up a song with a story, such as “How many of you ladies have experienced this?” he asks. Then he belts out the lyrics, “She’s a good-hearted woman in love with a good-timing man.”
The crowd sings along while superfan Steve walks up and hands Jesse a piece of paper tucked with a $20 bill. After the song ends, he reads the note, holds up the bill, saying, “This isn’t necessarily a family friendly song, but this might change my mind.”
After plucking a few chords on his guitar, he begins singing the song, “The Ballad of Dick and Jane.” The man’s name represents a male body part, and, before long, the crowd roars with laughter, while a few ladies grin sheepishly. Google the lyrics and you’ll catch on.
Gutierres explains, “There’s a need to have humor in a country song. It’s not all sadness and heartbreak. Those humorous songs relate to the audience, giving a sense of camaraderie.”
He began singing in public at age 5 with his dad, to an Elvis or Buddy Holly tune. He sang acapella with a church choir in Oklahoma and taught himself to play guitar in his teens. When traveling in the family station wagon with a captive audience, he sang along with country tunes on the radio.
Gutierres knows about 500 songs by heart and has written nearly 200. Songwriting is his passion, as he’ll get a beat going over the potholes while he’s driving along.
As a Desert Storm veteran, his band sang for a USO Salute The Troops tour as an “opener for an opener” for a Kenny Rogers concert.
He’s got a diverse set of fans from teens to seniors who follow his music at rodeos to wineries. Whichever generation listens, he wants people to learn about country music’s roots.
“I’d like people to educate themselves about what country music is or is not,” he says. “It doesn’t come from New York or California. Real country music isn’t pop music. It makes my soul happy.”
His happy place is playing for a crowd no matter if it consists of thousands or in a “podunk” place where he can make people smile.
“I like performing any place, but I wouldn’t mind the bank account jingle,” he says.
As the crowd claps and cheers, Gutierres strums a chord, giving advice.
“The more beer you drink, the better we sound,” he says in his distinct country voice.
You can catch Jesse at the Iowa Distilling Company on Nov. 26. ♦