Challis to Bozeman

Updated: Jan 3, 2019


Photo: Robert Millage Photography

Dancing back to August 2017, the dive was bustling. I sat at a middle table with perfect strangers. I took in my surroundings as best I could, my gin-soaked mind thirsty for detail. The bar lined the east wall and formed a half horseshoe with what seemed like a 70s-style light fixture, orange and checkered, hanging above the center taps. The south rooms boasted long bench style dinner sets and a pool table. Turnpike Troubadours stood at the corner of the bar visiting with a Black Lily. Randy Rogers leaned to the side of them visiting with some friends perched on the double ring bar stools; black vinyl seats. My friend Dustin was talking up a blonde bombshell from Texas and the Braun brothers were rambling about. The bartenders had their hands full with musicians and music lovers alike.


Now, I hadn’t quite heard of Jamie Lin Wilson until a couple weeks prior to being at this festival, but I had watched her set that afternoon and fell in love with her song “Oldsmobile.” She laughed as she told the story about discovering the pregnancy of her third child and the old car her and her husband Roy would cruise around in; just to get away and clear their minds. This was off her debut album Holidays & Wedding Rings. She’d had quite the history singing in The Trishas and now was pursuing a solo career. She stood behind the numerous patrons crowded at the bar. I’m not sure what compelled me that evening to call out her name (maybe the gin) but I did. I introduced myself with my full name and I proceeded to ask what her best advice was for aspiring songwriters. She was very kind and told me to send some of my work her way. I thanked her and headed for the bar to refresh my drink.


Later in the evening, standing content at the bar, I happened to catch Evan Felker of Turnpike passing me. I rapped him on the shoulder; he swiveled to see me but then turned away to continue his path. Jamie, across from us, saw this and gently grabbed hold of his arm. I could barely make out what she was saying, “She’s a songwriter, you should talk to her for a bit.” He nodded, pivoted and came back my direction. We introduced ourselves and I asked the same question. He told me I need to find contentment in solitude, to read the classics, take notes and to understand it wasn’t an easy job. Gold. Thanks Jamie.


Right before heading out, I was lucky to catch one more piece of advice from Willie Braun of Reckless Kelly. He told me,”Don’t ever throw anything away, you never know when you will use it.” The evening turned out to be truly great; I went  back to camp determined to put these words of wisdom to work.


Fast forward to Fall 2018, the night was warm for October and Jamie came to play at Live From the Divide. She held the stage with strength and poise. I hardly ever sit front row to the act when mixing but she was captivating. So strong, just her and her guitar. I can’t forget to mention she had just had her fourth baby 7 weeks prior and was on the road with him; incredible. She looked great and you would never have guessed she hadn’t felt well the night before the gig.  


If it was easy, everybody would do it, it's all just a part of the show.”

-Red Shahan


She rocked the house with tunes from her new album Jumping Over Rocks and I’ve listened to the songs quite a bit since then. She opens the album with a slow ballad, Faithful & True, a co-write with Jack Ingram and no easy feat for a vocalist. “Oklahoma Stars” shines and gives another musical perspective on the song; a bit different than that of the co-writer Evan Felker. Her honesty comes forward in numbers such as “Run” and her vulnerability in “If I Told You.” Her vocals are unmistakable.


As the evening came to a close I found myself in the green room talking with Jamie. She had recognized me earlier that night as the writer she had met and I was glad to visit with her again. She showed me some new guitar techniques and smiled, “When they laugh at your jokes, you’re golden. That’s how you know you got ‘em.”


If you haven’t got Jamie Lin on your radar yet, check her out. She’s the salt of the earth and her music will hit home one way or another.

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