Say farewell to the Judds in our slideshow.
The Judds Nutty Jerry's August 19, 2011
"I have two teenagers at home now, so I went on tour with my mother to relax," says Wynonna Judd about halfway through her own solo set in the middle of the only Judds stop in Southeast Texas on their final farewell tour, out at Nutty Jerry's in Winnie. We don't have kids ourselves, but we can empathize, seeing that we practiced the art of parental terrorism little more than a decade ago.
The night offered a heartfelt goodbye from the successful and influential mother-daughter country duo to their devoted Texas audience. Over almost two hours, the pair delivered their hits, salted with their own brand of familial joshing and a touch of the Lord, before one of the biggest crowds Aftermath has heard of at the venue.
The night was separated into three parts. The first re-introduced daughter Wynonna and mother Naomi to their crowd with a few of their own cuts, the second showcased Wynonna's own solo work after the pair split in 1991, and the last was a soulful victory lap into country history. It definitely hit the crowd in all the sweet spots; there were tears and laughs throughout the night amongst the mostly female population in the audience.
The Judds were very much a bonding tool, it seems, for their target market during the duo's first decade together. Songs like "Have Mercy" and "Rockin' with the Rhythm of the Rain" were ready-made family singalongs, bonding mothers and daughters on road trips and nights at home rocking around the home stereo. Our own mother was a devoted Judds supporter, so most of the songs Friday night were blasts from our late-'80s past.
Wynonna's solo excursion in the middle of the show reminded us that her work in the '90s was less country and more rock and R&B than anything else. With her husky voice, sassed-out lyrics, and flaming red hair, she wasn't a shrinking violet in a house dress. Something like "No One Else On Earth" is more Heart than Reba.
She brought out the Palmetto State Quartet, featuring stepdad Larry Strickland, for a round of songs including her own set staple, the gospel standard "How Great Thou Art" which featured a dynamic turn by Wynonna herself. Her cover of Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is" was a nice change of pace after taking us to church.
Naomi, looking less than half of her 65 years, returned to the stage for "Mama He's Crazy" and "Why Not Me," which were both mass singalongs, even from the dudes who were dragged into the show. The lighters went up too.
An encore of "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days)" and "Love Can Build a Bridge," brought honest-to-Jesus tears to most of the older fans' eyes.
It started to sink in during the beginning lines of the latter that this was duo's final go-round, which made it all the more special and poignant for everyone. The song was written as Naomi's musical epitaph as she retired from the industry in 1991 to fight Hepatitis C. Twenty years later, it's a survivor's anthem of the highest order, for her and her daughter alike.
The pair has reunited twice since they initially parted in the '90s, so the chances of this being the finite end to their run is still suspect to us. But if this is the way they ride off into country-music history, finally, it was a helluva wave goodbye.
Personal Bias: Those '80s singles, man. You can't beat them.
The Crowd: Moms and daughters and super-fans of both sexes. Their seemed to have been a policy against photography, so security was spending a great deal of the show swatting down cellphones and point-and-shoots in the crowd.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Overseen In the Crowd: Pairs of girls dancing in the aisles and by the beer stands, sans men. Seriously guys, we put down the icy bags of Miller Lite cans and grab one of the girls by the hand and make it happen already.
Random Notebook Dump: Seriously, Naomi looks amazing for 65.