Texas native Jack Ingram has been doggedly releasing music since the ’90s, and in concert, the 41-year-old country singer gives the impression that very little fazes him anymore.
Whether from many years of touring, searching for elusive hits or playing in front of crowds that just weren’t that into him, Ingram was full of self-deprecation during his hour-long acoustic set in the basement of Hill Country, a Texas-style barbecue restaurant in downtown Washington.
“I’ve been playing a whole bunch of songs I think are really good,” he said dryly after testing out some new tunes on the 150-plus people milling around the venue. “And now I’m going to play you a hit song.”
That would be his only No. 1 single, the earnestly romantic “Wherever You Are,” a 2005 song that gained Ingram commercial attention. It was followed by a successful album and a string of well-performing singles, but Ingram hasn’t been on the mainstream grid much since.
Though the loud chatter from the Hill Country audience threatened to drown out the music at times, Ingram threw himself into every song, including “Measure of a Man,” the summertime anthem “Barefoot and Crazy” and an ode to country stars called “Jonesin’ for Haggard.” And there was the always-welcome “Love You,” which includes a line about how “there’s only one four-letter word that will do.” (Spoiler alert: It isn’t “love.”)
Debuting one song, Ingram sang like he meant it: “Trying to get a ticket to the big time / I could pack it all in and give it all up / But then what? It’s a heartache I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
Later in the set, as he played “Goodnight Moon,” he walked up to a group on the side of the stage that had been listening to the show with rapt attention. As he let his fans sing his lyrics back to him, Ingram looked genuinely delighted for the first time all night as he closed his eyes, tilted his head back, smiled and just listened to the music.