by Julian Spivey
In early June fans attending the annual Riverfest music festival in Little Rock were disappointed when Texas Outlaw Country singer-songwriter Cody Jinks had to cancel last second due to a weather-related equipment malfunction. Jinks more than made up for this cancellation with a mostly free show (pit and lawn seating) on Friday, August 25 at First Security Amphitheater in Little Rock.
Proving he’s a performer of the fans Jinks stood by the stage for at least 30 minutes prior to his show to sign autographs and take photos with patrons, which is something you don’t typically see from musicians, especially for that length of time.
The show was opened by Monticello, Ark. native Ward Davis who I had never heard, but had heard good things about from fellow country bloggers. After seeing his 45-minute-or-so opening set he’s someone I’ll surely be looking forward to when he releases new music. Highlights from his set included “15 Years in a 10 Year Town,” from his 2015 debut of the same name, about struggling to make it as a musician in Nashville. My favorite original performance of his set was a new song he co-wrote with his close friend Jinks earlier this year and hopefully will appear on his next album called “Colorado.” It is a shame though that many in attendance chose to talk and party rather than listen to this wonderful song. Davis filled his set with numerous fantastic covers starting with Tom Petty’s “Something Big” before thrilling the crowd with The Highwaymen’s “Highwayman,” joined on stage by Jinks for Johnny Cash’s verse, and Cash’s “Big River.” Davis would set his guitar aside for the keyboard for his closing cover of Ronnie Milsap’s “Stranger in My House,” which he somehow made sound cooler than it is.
Jinks has only released three country albums over the last few years, but he’s such a talented songwriter and performer that his discography has enough great tunes for an almost two-hour set of terrific music. He began his set with “No Guarantees,” one of the highlights off last year’s I’m Not the Devil, which charted at No. 4 on the Billboard country albums chart despite Jinks receiving absolutely no airplay from country radio stations too afraid to play actual country music.
Jinks would showcase this real country music all night long with more terrific songs from his most recent album like “She’s Still Mine,” which would’ve been a No. 1 hit in the ‘90s no doubt, “No Words” and “Give All You Can.”
One of Jinks’ early fan-favorites on Friday night was “David,” off his 2015 release Adobe Sessions, which is one of the few tear-jerkers in his repertoire, though probably too sad for its own good. It gets a little too much when the titular character dies in a truck accident only to have his mom the ER nurse when he’s DOA. I admit I’m in the minority of Jinks fans who feel this way.
Some highlights from the Adobe Sessions performed on Friday night included “Mamma Song,” “Birds” and “Cast No Stones,” which turned into a nice sing-along moment for the crowd.
Like Davis before him, Jinks’ set included a few excellent cover choices of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound,” Merle Haggard’s “The Way I Am,” which he covered on I’m Not the Devil, and his most recent single a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” an inspiring choice.
Three of my favorite performances on Friday came from last year’s release of I’m Not the Devil: the title track, which was co-written with Davis and featured Davis taking a verse on stage. “I’m Not the Devil” appeared at No. 20 on this website’s annual Best Country/Americana Songs list last year. “Vampires” and “Chase That Song,” both also appearing on that same list, were also favorites of the night. Those songs make me realize that Jinks is perhaps one of the most literary singer-songwriters in the country genre with references to J.D. Salinger and Ray Bradbury that I really dig.
Jinks ended his set with a fantastic performance of “Loud & Heavy” from Adobe Sessions, which ended up in another crowd sing-along moment. Jinks didn’t make fans wait too long for his encore saying, “Y’all waited two months for this show I won’t make you wait any longer for an encore.” He then performed the deeply personal “Rock & Roll,” which is sort of a tune about how he left the harder rock sound behind for country music. He finished the night with a performance about two of his favorite people, “Hippies & Cowboys.”
If you’re a fan of old school country music who’s grown disgruntled and let-down by country radio today I can’t stress how much you should seek out Jinks’ music. You’ll find just because country radio has left you behind it doesn’t mean the real artists out there have, as well.
by Julian Spivey
I’ve got The Best of Glen Campbell spinning on the record player playing softly while trying to think of the right words to say to tell another music legend goodbye – something that’s always hard to do, no matter how many times I’ve had to do it over the last few years.
And, the first thing that occurs to me is: Has there ever been such a smooth vocalist in country music history? This has to be the reason why Glen Campbell was such a crossover hit in the ‘60s with songs like “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston,” the latter two becoming top five hits on the pop chart in addition to topping the country chart. In the ‘70s, Campbell would do something that’s incredibly rare for a country musician and top both the country and Billboard Hot 100 pop charts with “Rhinestone Cowboy” (1975) and “Southern Nights” (1977).
A partnership and friendship struck up between Campbell and songwriter Jimmy Webb in the ’60s resulted in the trilogy of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (1967), “Wichita Lineman” (1968) and “Galveston” (1969), all becoming among the greatest ballads ever released in the genre of country music. I defy anyone to find a better singer-writer duo than Campbell and Webb. These songs have basically become part of the Great American Songbook.
Webb said of Campbell after his passing on Tuesday, August 8: “Just thinking back I believe suddenly that the “raison d’etre” for every Glen Campbell show was to bring every suffering soul within the sound of his voice up a peg or two. Leave ’em laughin.’ Leave them feeling just a little tad better about themselves; even though he might have to make them cry a couple of times to get ’em there. What a majestically graceful and kind, top rate performer was Glen on his worst night!”
It's almost unbelievable to think that potentially the smoothest vocalist in the extraordinary history of country music was known more for his guitar work – he’s considered along with artists like Chet Atkins, Willie Nelson and Jerry Reed as one of the best. He became a much sought-after session guitar player for such legends as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Nat King Cole and the Beach Boys working with the legendary Wrecking Crew. One of these albums Campbell played guitar on was the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (1966), which multiple publications have called the greatest album of all-time.
I had the great pleasure of seeing Campbell perform in person in December of 2010 at the Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark. where I attended college. Campbell being a native of Delight, Ark. used the performance as somewhat of a family reunion having multiple siblings and children perform on stage with him. He was in great spirits and it made for a fantastic show and a lifetime memory. I got to see the legend himself perform “Galveston,” my personal favorite” and “Wichita Lineman.” There were instances throughout the show were Campbell had trouble remembering some of his lyrics and I now realize this was because of Alzheimer’s disease taking over. Campbell would announce about six months after I saw him that he had been diagnosed right around the time I saw him perform. I believe that concert at Reynolds may have been the last time he ever performed in his home state. You can read my review of that great show: HERE
Campbell was always a music legend, but his struggle with Alzheimer’s being filmed in documentary form and shown to the whole world really made him heroic in that it gave those of us who have never experienced a love one with such a horrifying disease understand the pain of it. “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” was truly a moving film and garnered Campbell an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for the tragic “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which he co-wrote. The song would also win Campbell his 10th career Grammy Award when it took home Best Country Song in 2014.
We have known for years that Campbell’s days on Earth were coming toward an end and it’s one of those moments where you obviously feel sad, almost selfishly so, but you realize his suffering is over and he’s better off. He left us with so many truly incredible songs and performances that we’re never going to forget. To borrow a line from one of his greatest songs his music is something we need more than want and we’ll want it for all time.
Ed. Note: This review was originally published in December 2010
by Julian Spivey
Glen Campbell (and seemingly everybody who’s related to Glen Campbell) put on a fantastic show at the Reynolds Performance Hall on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway on Sunday (Dec. 12).
Campbell, one of the finest vocalists in the great history of country music, performed all of his biggest hits, played some great guitar licks and entertained the audience with some Christmas tunes.
At times during the show, Campbell had a little trouble remembering all the lyrics to the songs (Editor’s note: we now know it was the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s), but his voice is almost at the level it was back in the ‘60s and his wonderful guitar playing hasn’t lost a step. Campbell is one of the greatest guitar players in country music history, right up there with Willie Nelson, Jerry Reed and Brad Paisley.
Campbell opened his set with his 1967 hit and first big career single “Gentle On My Mind.” Hit after hit followed including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (1967), “Galveston,” a number one hit from 1969 (and personal favorite of mine) and “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.).
Campbell also performed one of his lesser known hits “Where’s the Playground, Susie?” from 1969, as well as “True Grit” the theme song to the 1969 film that Campbell co-starred in with legendary John Wayne.
Campbell filled in his set at Reynolds with many Christmas tunes, including “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Silver Bells” among others. His daughter, Debby, also added a Christmas song of her own, singing lead on “Blue Christmas.”
As previously mentioned, Campbell’s concert at Reynolds turned into somewhat of a family reunion. His daughter Debby performed a few songs with Campbell and sang back-up for the rest. She also performed the Fleetwood Mac classic “Landslide” with her half-sister, Ashley, who also sings back-up, plays keyboard, banjo and guitar in Campbell’s band. Ashley also thrilled the crowd with a spot-on cover of KT Tunstall’s 2005 hit “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.”
Two of Campbell’s sons, Shannon and Cal, also perform in his band. Shannon plays guitar, while Cal is the group’s drummer.
Campbell was later joined on the Reynolds’ stage by his sister and friends to perform his hit “Try a Little Kindness.” His brothers, Gerald and Shorty, also joined him on stage. Gerald performed a rather nice version of the country standard “Hadacol Boogie.” Shorty performed the Western swinger “Right or Wrong,” which has been recorded by numerous artists like Bob Wills and George Strait. The three brothers then performed Brenda Lee’s “I Want to Be Wanted.”
Campbell finished up his set with three of his biggest hits and number one records: “Southern Nights” (1977), “Wichita Lineman” (1968) and “Rhinestone Cowboy” (1975).
Campbell returned to the stage soon after for an encore of the Righteous Brothers’ classic “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” Campbell said that he performed as a studio musician with the Righteous Brothers and that he always loved this song.