Jamey Johnson, "Kern River"
Released on the 1985 album of the same title, "Kern River" is Haggard at his most haunting, depicting the deceptively lethal body of water where his lover drowned. It requires some serious gravitas, which Jamey Johnson has in spades. His crowd clearly overlaps with Haggard's – his introduction garnered one of the night's biggest reactions, at least until Hank Williams Jr. came out. Johnson's solemn, heavy reading of "Kern River" was tone-perfect, conjuring the quiet menace of a current that can kill so indiscriminately, and the broken man who fled to the relative sanctuary of the mountains near Lake Shasta. He followed it with an equally moving take on "If I Could Only Fly" with Alison Krauss. J.F.