Two Tickets to Merchandise: Chris Stapleton
Two Tickets to Merchandise is a new, ongoing feature profiling notable music merch.
At it's best, band merch is a reflection and extension of an artist's music. It's a way to continue the experience of an album or gig. It's a method for representing your taste, devotion, or inspiration. And it makes up around 30% of my overall wardrobe.
So it's really disappointing when you go see a live performance from an artist you love, head to the merch booth, and are greeted by offerings that are either uninspired or nothing you'd ever actually wear. Sometimes you get caught up in the moment and buy a t-shirt or hat anyway, convincing yourself that you'll proudly rock it the next day, only to come to your senses later as it collects dust in the closet.
While we can't expect all musicians to have great taste in the merchandise they offer (their first priority is obviously producing awesome songs), it's refreshing when they get it right. Country singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton is a great example. I love his 2015 debut album, Traveller, which is still in regular rotation at my house.
I've somehow managed to miss him live but was curious about the types of shirts he offers. If you know his music, he's got a real throwback country sound, comparable to the kinda-outlaw revivalism we've heard from guys like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. Those two have decent merch too, but Stapleton's items look like clutch thrift-store finds that have a timeless appeal like his music. Head to his web store for the full selection, but here are some of my favorites.
While I usually take issue with new t-shirts that are made to look vintage, none of these shirts bother me because they feel like an honest homage. The difference is they seem born out of love for that tradition and aesthetic, rather than just a cheap cash-in on a trend like the stuff you'll find Target. Keep up the good work, Chris, and looking forward to that second album.