The silver-tongued devil and I: An evening with Kris Kristofferson

Being a singer/songwriter and a fan of classic country music, I take every chance I get to see one of my heroes in person. And it doesn’t get much better than Kris Kristofferson.

When I found out that he would be performing at the Welk Resort Theatre in Branson, Missouri, I knew it would be my best chance to see him. I’ve always loved going to Branson ever since I was a little kid, and the Welk was a wonderful venue for this show.

The house lights came down, and Kristofferson walked onstage with no introduction or fanfare. Although he occasionally plays shows with other musicians, tonight was just the man and his guitar.

The show started with “Shipwrecked in the Eighties,” a favorite among fans, and Kristofferson wasted no time moving from song to song.

Most artists would save all of their biggest songs for the end of the show. Kristofferson obviously doesn’t buy into that, playing “Me and Bobby McGee” as the third song of the night.

Right about here is where most people would talk about Kristofferson’s voice and musicianship in some negative way. He’s no virtuoso when it comes to singing or guitar playing, but that’s no front page news. I find it odd that people choose to pick Kristofferson out of the crowd for this when there are countless people in the industry who are on the same level of musicianship.

Pointing out his musical flaws also does a huge disservice to the music itself, which is what everyone was there for. Kris Kristofferson is not Luciano Pavarotti or Eddie Van Halen, and he doesn’t need to be. He’s known for his incredible songwriting that most people only dream of being able to do.

In this setting, the songs were the stars of the show. When it’s stripped-down like that, every word hits you right between the eyes. There were a couple of moments where I began to get teary-eyed. His songs are made up of stories and messages that you can’t help but be moved by.

While the show included a couple of tunes from his more recent albums, the majority of the evening consisted of the hit songs that everyone loves, like “For the Good Times” and “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33.”

As the show began to come to a close, it was nothing but hits. One of the biggest highlights came after he finished playing “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and the audience gave him a well-deserved standing ovation, to which he seemed to be surprised, saying “Oh now, you don’t have to get up!”

Kristofferson brought his performance to a close with “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends.” As soon as he finished, people ran up to the stage, in hopes of meeting the legendary songwriter. I was one of the lucky ones who got that chance. We shook hands as I told him that he’s one of my heroes, and I thanked him for all of the great music he’s done. He smiled, nodded and humbly said, “Well, thank you!”

Although it wasn’t a long conversation, I was able to say everything I wanted to say to the man. And although I’m sure he will never remember it, I will always cherish the moment when the rest of the world was shut out, and it was just the silver tongued devil and I.

For more information, visit www. kriskristofferson.com.