*Editor's Note: This story will appear in the September issue of ITZ Magazine. All opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
By Brandon K. Scott
There is no need to introduce Huntsville to John Slaughter, or vice versa -- even if he's just releasing his debut solo record.
The 30-year-old musician/singer/songwriter has been in town since 1999 when he enrolled in Sam Houston State University to study agriculture.
Around that time, Slaughter was already in the background of the Texas country music scene. When he was 16, Slaughter's mom would drive him from Conroe to Houston to perform with area Top 40 bands.
After some regional success with Riverwest, the group he joined while at SHSU, John started performing with his cousin Jody Booth - who co-wrote three songs on the debut record "Stay for a While" including my favorite "Don't Drink My Whiskey While I'm Gone."
"We've got a system down definitely," Slaughter said. "We go in and have an idea, we'll write it and get it knocked out."
By 2003, John was performing 150-200 dates a year with Roger Creager. He even co-wrote Creager's #1 hit "I Love Being Lonesome."
Yet Slaughter's creds as an individual artist had hardly been measured by anything, until now with the release of this record.
"Stay For a While" is indicative of John Slaughter -- ordinary country lover boy who sings songs that make other people want to sing along. This record could honky-tonk its way into any bar in Huntsville, and it undoubtedly will.
Slaughter sings success, failure, perseverance, love and even infedelity (again with my favorite "Don't Drink My Whiskey While I'm Gone").
"I kind of write when I feel inspired," he said. "I don't want to write just to write a song. I practice but I try to write from experience. Over the years I feel like I've become in tuned to the human condition.
"Whether it's on a bathroom wall or what somebody says at a bar or what I see somebody doing or if somebody just shouts something out weird, I tend to find inspiration."
And John wants to tell stories to people in different places.
The "Stay for a While" single, released Aug. 16, was mostly written at Slaughter's home before him and Jody finished the track. The lyrics speak to a lady in a bar who obviously isn't one of the bar-regular.
But the artist, however, attempts to keep her in the bar with his smooth talkin' and country western charm.
John talks about swinging on the old front porch and a picnic by the lake. It's basically the song that says all the right things to get the girl to really stay for a while.
"Hasn't Everyone" is the self inspirational song that acknowledges making mistakes but not letting it be the end of the world.
"And I know you won't quit that easily," quotes Slaughter as what his mother would say to him.
"Single Rose Kind of Girl" is one of four tracks on the record co-written by another Huntsville artist some of you may know as Cody Johnson.
In the song, John says "she's jealousy in another man's eyes" and that she says they're "rich in love." Deep down, every man wants a single rose kind of girl. Normally I wouldn't speak for every man, but I feel safe with that one.
"Pray for Rain" could easily be the best song on the record. It's already a popular tune, co-written by Slaughter and Cody Johnson, which Johnson has performed numerous times before. I haven't heard Slaughter perform it yet, but he sounds great on this record.
If you're from east Texas and a lifetime country music fan, you'll appreciate "Timbertown" which looks at rural life before stop signs turned into stoplights. It's tasteful, just like the album in its entirety.
But "Don't Drink My Whiskey While I'm Gone" is my favorite because it takes the ethos of "Stay For a While" and gives it a completely different perspective. While the majority of the record proves Slaughter to be a kind, thoughtful country boy, this song does that with a little attitude.
While Slaughter is often singing about love and affection, he disregards any funny business with Don't Drink My Whiskey. John mentions the fact that he's a performer who travels a lot to make a living.
While his woman may be at home sleeping with the pool boy or the neighbor, all Slaughter wants is for his whiskey to be left alone. He's essentially saying, "make love to my woman, even have a sip of my vodka or beer. But if you touch my whiskey there's going to be some serious issues."
It's damning and I love it.
"That's a little bit of tongue and cheek," John said. "People don't always talk about women cheating."
Slaughter's band can be spotted performing all across the Lone Star State, stretching the borders from McAllen to Lubbock. They'll also do shows outside of Texas - Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kansas as well.
Still, Slaughter is just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary gift and "Stay for a While" is undoubtedly the wrapping.
Don't miss the Back to School Bash at The Jolly Fox on September 9, where John Slaughter performs and promises "to get it a little western" that night.
To keep up with tour dates visit johnslaughtermusic.com. "Like" his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @johntslaughter.
Photos by Melissa Webb