I have been relentlessly preaching it to the high heavens since June 1st, GO TO Tumbleweed Festival at the end of July in Kansas City. Join me as I begin my next step in my devious plan to implement a full regime of Texas Red Dirt Country into my already huge palate I have for live music.
I am now fully featuring six main genres of local music and I do deviate from them at times when I like the music involved. But this event will certainly feature some really fine Red Dirt that doesn’t get to my neck of the woods all too often, so I’ll have to bring my crew out there.
Well here’s a little something the directors don’t know I have planned up my sleeve, I’ll be interviewing some of the people that are involved in the next few weeks. As I’m allowed to I’ll be featuring some of the performers that want to sit and chat for a moment with me.
So last weekend I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. William Higgins who created the page BLACKSHEEP a flock of Cody Jinks fans. Unless you have been under a rock you have witnessed Cody Jinks And The Tone Deaf Hippies blow up into a literal mega storm of sell outs and career growth in the last two years.
Part of this reason is the unwavering support of some 30,000 plus insane fans called “Flockers” that are a literal street army willing to do Cody Jinks any tasks needed to publicly boost his presence within the confines of the local music scenes.
Let’s be feasible for a moment shall we? Music is music and we do this for the love of the music, BUT it NEEDS our wallets to further it’s growth as well. We HAVE TO invest our time AND our money into this deal, this isn’t a free sharing, free giving freebie cycle ALL the time. True, we swap out staying at each other’s houses and split gas rides and food expenses, I’m NOT saying that’s bad and I’m also NOT telling you to skip the electric bill or let your cat starve.
But the ideology of guest list passes and “Oh I’m a promoter by sharing on social media every day” frame of mind isn’t good enough to be deemed liable to keep music afloat. People work, sound men, road crews, medical staff, and they ALL should be PAID. Stop being couch warriors and get your butt down to a venue and OCCUPY A BAR STOOL.
Needless to say these insane people….these “Flockers” THEY SPEND MONEY. They HAVE the RIGHT path to success, and because of these folks Cody Jinks merchandise sales and concert attendances have skyrocketed into amounts the bigwigs can NOT ignore. Because let’s face it folks, they don’t REALLY LOVE pop country….they love the REVENUE it brings. If WE TRULY WANT to fight this bastard of a problem we MUST FIGHT with our MONEY.
Tell me how you started the Flockers, and what made you start it?
Well, It was actually at a show in Omaha, Nebraska. I had been to see Cody Jinks a couple other times before that, and I was involved in several other fan pages for some other artists. I started listening to Cody and kind of checking his stuff out there, and I noticed that he really didn’t have a fan group on Facebook. So I thought it would be a good idea and I talked to the guys that night about it, and they were on board. So I kind of launched it November 15th of 2015 and it just took off from there.
And did you start it right from your home, or do you have an office, how do you operate?
No,I began it from home. It’s basically just a Facebook page and there’s not a whole lot to it but it’s mostly getting it out there. It’s getting other supporters involved and getting his music heard, there’s no a whole lot of operation to it.
Do you guys have different chapters?
Basically right now it’s just the Blacksheep page, we did start messing around with local chapters. We did start one group so we could see how it goes, and kind of see how a local chapter would work. You know, all of this operates under pretty much no funding, so everybody pretty much just puts in their own time. If there are any expenses the members cover that, we do not profit off of anything on the Blacksheep page. Our main thing is obviously is to get Cody’s music out and also support a lot of related artists that he works with, and continues to work with.
You guys have a lot of power, trust me, because I recently interviewed Mr. Austin Tripp. He said that when the Merle Haggard Tribute show was announcing they wanted artists, you guys shut their server down hollaring for Cody Jinks. Now, the promoter of that show told me in a text he really didn’t mind, but at the time dammit he was pissed. So you guys are really beating the pavement for Mr. Cody, and you are really doing it well. I think a huge portion of his success can actually be attributed to you guys really.
Well you know that’s great to hear, I think Cody’s music speaks for itself and regardless of what we have done, it’s great to see it becoming so huge for sure.
Well let me tell you from a media standpoint. I’m a media guy that’s into so many genres and scenes, I’m into Rockabilly and Red Dirt, I’m tied in with Muddy Roots and I see and I watch what people do. The power that you guys have and the number that you have, you really make a difference for him…you really do. Now the main reason I’m wanting to talk to you is what will your role in Tumbleweed be, because this is going to be a side article for it that Mr. Doug doesn’t know about. So what exactly is your role in Tumbleweed going to be?
Tumbleweed actually started off by one of the members of our group Doug Bordegon, and Borda productions is the name of the company that he owns. (GHC Yeah, he hired me).. Ultimately he asked us to become part of a unique situation by getting the fans involved within this festival. This festival is different in the aspect that it tapers around the fans and features the acts that they want to see. He came to me and said he would really like to promote this around the Blacksheep page, and the Flockers group, and do some special things for you guys. Moreso it’s just a thank you for what we have done, we are going to have our own section for camping and we have the opportunity to introduce Cody and the Tone Deaf Hippies on stage. Now, he’s offering this to the other fan pages as well, the main thing is that we are getting the Blacksheep together and getting the word out there of Tumbleweed. We are trying to get as many supporters as we can drawn to this thing in Kansas City.
GHC: He told me he was going to invite different people from different fan groups, he also invited several websites and I was one of them. Music festivals is a big portion of what I center on, I been doing this for about five years now and Outlaw Country is something that I have always featured from day 1. I been around Mr. Cody since he was playing gas stations, and I know all of these artists very very well. I been wanting to tie a lot of Red Dirt Country into my what I do. What are your feelings toward Tumbleweed, do you think it’s going to be a success?
I think that last year was a little more tailored to pop country and people like that. I think that he saw this thing going further, and with that I think he wanted to do it right. He wants to get the Country sound out there with some authentic music, and from what I have heard the initial sales have already beat last year’s sales. So I think it will continue to grow from last year, and I think once people see this year and the authentic sound it will continue to grow in the future. We are really excited about that because he really wants us all to play a part in this going down the road too.
I was down there last week, I saw the venue it’s really nice. I was down there for another festival and I hosted a stage with Moe Bandy and Dale Watson. We did a little cross work down there my partner and I did and we thought it was a nice venue.
Yeah we have seen videos of the area, I think it’s going to be pretty special.
I do too, I have pretty positive vibes about it. I like what he’s doing and some of the choices he has made. Are you tied in with Cody officially, or is this an unofficial thing, how does this work?
No, we are defiantly unofficial we are not tied with Cody at all, however we do work with his management because they really like what we’re doing and they continue to do good things for us. They get us codes for pre sales and there’s going to be some more stuff coming up down the road, that he will have an official club being launched. We hope to play a supporting role in getting that going. It’s going to be most of the same members transferring over, and we will continue to work with his team. Having it as a group setting and not really an official site really gives a family aspect to it. A lot of these members have become friends through the site and one thing that I have really enjoyed seeing is the launching of a lot of other fan groups through this page. There is Whitey Morgan and Paul Cauthen and it just continues to keep growing., and we are really excited about that.
Is there merch available that my readers can buy from you guys?
We do make limited runs of shirts from booster campaigns, and all of the profit from those campaigns go to St Judes Children’s Hospital. That came strictly from Cody that’s what he wanted us to do with the funds, and obviously that’s a great organization for us. St. Jude’s is one of those charities that is doing one hundred percent of what they are trying to achieve. We cannot think of a better way for proceeds to go from Flockers shirts, and we have raised over seven thousand dollars for them.
Ok, well listen it truly was nice talking with you Sir and I reckon we will finally meet at tumbleweed.
That sounds wonderful Gary, thanks for everything.
This is a very very special edition of my festival article series folks, another mammoth outdoor festival in the Kansas City area so I’ll be researching hotels for this one people. My GOD the absolutely amazing lineup that has become one of the hottest upcoming events of 2017. Once I print you the lineup links you’ll not even need a second opinion before venturing over to the ticket link.
This is going to be a different take on most festivals folks because it’s going to involve more than just the bands and musicians they plan to include many of the fan factions of the artists as well. The festival director plans to include the popular support group of Cody Jinks called The Flockers, tomorrow I’ll be talking with one of their representatives concerning what their role will be in this event. I’ll be adding that conversation on this article as well as updating it many times before my crew and I head down there.
I’m telling you that right there in the middle of America we got Red Dirt meets touring Outlaw acts meets Americana acts all rolled into one big outdoor stage. I’m going to be studying this event thoroughly in the next few weeks, and I’ll be promoting this festival HEAVILY in the next few weeks.
Now folks some of these festivals I do a lot of work for, but this one I’ll be HEAVILY promoting and doing research for this one because this is their second year of operation, and we want to see this festival grow. Additionally I am currently attempting to bring in more Red Dirt Country into my format, so this worked out well on both ends.
An additional twenty-two hotels are located within 20 minutes from the festival site. They range from budget to four-star accommodations. I was recently out in this area last weekend and I got to see the venue firsthand, there are plenty of hotels and stores nearby.
In time I shall also research area restaurants as well, this article will be constantly added to in the next few weeks.
The Tumbleweed Payment Plan enables you to get tickets now and pay nothing for six months. No interest, no payments for six months. You can buy tickets of all types HERE. YES FOLKS for this festival you can purchase tickets on a layaway plan! THIS IS the FIRST festival I have EVER witnessed this happen.
– Camping is a separate ticket (add-on)
– RV Campers must have (1) RV pass for the vehicle and Forest Camping Pass for each individual
– All campers must also have an access pass to enter the festival or camping grounds.
– Thursday night add-on campers must also have a Forest Camping pass
– On Thursday, July 27th, Thursday Night campers have access at 5:00pm. Gates open for early entry and VIP at 4:45pm. Gates close Thursday night at midnight. No access after midnight, so please plan accordingly!
– On Friday, July 28th, campers have access at 1:00pm. Gates open for early-entry and VIP attendees at 12:00pm. Standard entry is at 2pm
– On Saturday, July 29th, gates open at 11:30am
– All attendees must exit by 12:00/noon Sunday
FROM THE WEBSITE, AND FROM MINE:
Welcome to Tumbleweed Country Music Festival. We’re here to answer your questions! Check out the references below and don’t hesitate to reach out via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and however else you can find us!
This is a family-friendly festival along the gorgeous Missouri River bank covered by mature trees with a playground. Kids 10 years and younger are free!
NO coolers inside Main Stage area (permitted only in camping)
NO Loitering, drinking or grilling in the parking lot (enforced by police)
NO sleeping in cars in the parking lot (enforced by police)
NO outside food or drink (permitted in camping)
NO weapons of any kind (includes pocket knives, pepper spray, fireworks, guns, tasers)
Contained fires are permitted until 2:30am and must be in a 36″ metal fire container with a screen on top (standard at all retailers). If you bring a fire pit, you must also have a 10lb fire extinguisher with it. We’re camping in a forest!
Grills are permitted.
MUSTS TO BRING
– Printed off tickets. We will not accept electronic versions off of your cell phone, receipts, etc. Your ticket must be a hard copy printed off on paper. If your ticket does not scan you will not be granted access.
– Credit Card/ATM Card/Cash- some vendors accept cash only, parking is cash only (see parking info below), liquor/beer sales will accept credit cards in some locations. Please CARPOOL! Parking is $30 per vehicle (except for RV’s) to encourage car-pooling and funds go to the city for the facility usage and cleanup.
– Your ID, a SMILE and some killer boots!!!
WHEN CAN WE ARRIVE? WHEN DO WE HAVE TO LEAVE?
On Thursday, July 27th, Thursday Night campers have access at 5:00pm. Gates open for early entry at 4:00pm.
On Friday, July 28th, campers have access at 1:00pm. Gates open for early-entry attendees at 12:00pm. Standard entry is at 2pm. On Saturday, July 29th, gates open at 11:30am. All attendees must exit by 12:00/noon Sunday.
I NEVER GOT MY TICKETS AFTER I PURCHASED THEM – I NEED MY TICKETS RESENT TO ME?
Please visit www.Ticketfly.com or call 877.435.9849
Pets: Allowed with Service Animal or Companion Pet documentation
Open Camp Fires: Not Allowed (must be contained in metal fire pit container with mesh cover)
MY CREDIT CARD IS BEING DECLINED.
Please make sure your address is imputed EXACTLY as your address on file with your credit card company. Please contact your CC company or check your statement to verify address on file. Any error no matter how small will decline your attempt. This is put in place to reduce fraud associated with purchases.
IS THIS AN ALL AGES FESTIVAL?
Yes, all ages are welcome. Kids 10 and under are free!
HOW CAN I CONTACT CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TICKETS?
For all ticket concerns or questions please call Ticketfly at 877.435.9849. Please note that ALL SALES ARE FINAL. No Refunds for any reason. We will not respond to refund requests. Thank you.
HOW DO I CONTACT CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR ALL OTHER QUESTIONS?
Please email email@example.com. Please allow up to 48 hours for a response. Please note that ALL SALES are FINAL. No refunds for any reason. We will not respond to refund requests. Thank you.
ARE THERE ANY CELL PHONE CHARGING STATIONS?
Only in VIP.
CAN I LEAVE THE FESTIVAL AND RETURN?
Yes, you will be able to come and go as you wish. Please note that you will be subject to search each time you enter the festival grounds. This is purely for the safety of our guests. PLEASE, there is ZERO loitering in the parking areas and will be strictly enforced for safety reasons.
IF I AM STAYING OFF SITE, CAN I LEAVE AND COME BACK?
WILL YOU BE POSTING SET TIMES IN ADVANCE? WHERE CAN I FIND EXACT SET TIMES?
Set times will be posted closer to the festival dates. Please take the time to explore Tumbleweed, as there are some things happening that will not be posted, and will be exciting to find on your own.
I’M A PHOTOGRAPHER. WHO DO I ARRANGE A PHOTO PASS THROUGH?
Please complete a media form located on the Contact Us page.
WHAT TYPES OF VENDORS WILL BE ON HAND?
There will be a variety of food/beverage/alcohol/arts-crafts/apparel/ and more.
Motorcycles will park on the concrete parking lot near the entrance gate. Limited space available: first come, first reserve!
ACCESS TO THE MAIN STAGE?
Yes, all ticket levels will have unrestricted access to the front of the stage. No special pit tickets or similar exists.
I NEVER GOT MY TICKETS?
Please visit www.Ticketfly.com or call 877.435.9849
I CAN’T GO ANYMORE + I WANT A REFUND.
Just like any event ALL SALES ARE FINAL. When purchasing your ticket you agreed to our ticketing terms. We do not offer refunds for any reason. We will unable to respond to refund requests. Thank you.
CAN I BRING MY KIDS? DO THEY HAVE TO PAY?
Yes. Everyone is allowed in the event with a ticket. Kids 10 and younger are free!
DO I NEED TO PRINT OFF MY TICKETS?
Yes, you MUST print off your tickets on to paper. No other form will be accepted. We will be scanning printed off tickets only. If your ticket does not scan you will not be granted access.
WILL TICKETS BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT THE FESTIVAL GATES?
Yes, at higher ‘gate’ prices.
CAN I GET A SINGLE DAY PASS?
Single Day passes to Tumbleweed are not sold.
GETTING HERE FAQ
PLEASE USE THIS GOOGLE MAP LINK!! IOS MAPS CAN LEAD YOU WRONG!
It’s open first-come-first reserve camping with a recommended space of 10ft x 15ft per person, but you can camp with friends, family, etc. No true restriction on a reasonable camping area :).
CAN WE LEAVE AND RE-ENTER THE CAMPGROUND AREA?
Yes, as many times as you want.
WHAT ARE THE GENERAL RULES FOR BUYING A CAMPING SPOT?
A camping pass is required to enter the camping grounds. One Camping Pass = One Entrance to Camping.
You cannot camp without a festival pass.
CAN WE BRING IN ALCOHOL?
Only campers can bring in beer and/or liquor to the campgrounds. No outside food/drink in the main stage area.
WHAT WILL YOU BE PROVIDING AT THE CAMPGROUNDS?
There will be 24hr security. There will be water and ice for sale, as well as ATMs and a variety of vendors within the venue.
WHAT EMERGENCY SERVICES WILL BE AVAILABLE ON SITE? WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I NEED EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE (MEDICAL, POLICE, TOWING, LOCKSMITH, ETC.)?
There will be medical assistance available throughout the campgrounds and festival site. You can stop any officer you see, or any staff member you see, for assistance.
WHERE SHOULD I GO IF I LOSE MY KEYS, MY WALLET OR MY FRIENDS?
Go to the Tumbleweed information/ticket booth near the main entrance of the festival.
WILL SMALL CAMPFIRES BE ALLOWED IN THE CAMPING AREAS? WILL YOU ALLOW FIRE BINS?
There will be no campfires of any kind allowed. Burn it down on the dance floor! Grills are permitted.
WILL THERE BE ANY ELECTRICITY IN THE CAMPING AREA?
ARE SERVICE ANIMALS ALLOWED IN THE CAMPSITE?
IS THERE CELL PHONE SERVICE AVAILABLE THROUGHOUT THE FESTIVAL SITE?
Dependent on crowd size. WiFi connections may be available for a small fee.
ARE WE GOING TO BE ABLE TO CAMP NEXT TO OUR CARS?
No. Upon arrival, you will be directed into the main parking area. Camping is located within the park therefore no cars are allowed. Please walk your belongings to the camping area which is very close to the parking lot.
CAN WE BRING WATER INTO THE MAIN CONCERT VENUE FROM THE OUTSIDE?
No. You can purchase water and/or refill at FREE water stations.
WILL WE BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE THE FESTIVAL AND COME BACK?
Country Music has THREE staple pillars of it’s foundation or it’s backbone if you will. Those are in this order the songwriter, the producer, and the steel guitar in my opinion it takes those three to make a classic Country Music album. My point being Willie Nelson “Red Headed Stranger” and “Wanted The Outlaws” as two prime examples that had all three. Shooter will tell you rapidly “Wanted The Outlaws” was the first platinum selling Country Music album EVER and defied the sough it was initially given by Nashville in the 1970’s.
Local music as a whole contains such a plethora of well rounded steel guitarists and pickers waiting for you to discover them if you are willing to wade through the broken beer bottles and travel the worn out back alleys of America to find them. You have to look in the places most normal people wouldn’t, and you have to listen. You have to brave the heat and cold and discomfort of the fields and farms that spew forth these festivals, mostly you have to study and watch for them.
This edition of my steel guitarist series bring me to talking on a rainy Sunday afternoon with one of local music’s finest young steel players the mighty Johnny Up. I sat with him for just a few minutes and he was kind enough to spend some time with me and answered a few questions for us. So sit back and enjoy this interview with another one of Red Dirt Country’s young guns making Country Music sound so good!
I’ll be honest in this interview he peaks of many people that he looks up to and admires doing things for him and today, he truly passed it on to me by taking a few minutes out to become involved with this project. This is MY intention to bring forth the young people playing steel in the honky tonks of today, and educating people on this whole world of unknown REAL Country Music whether it’s Nashville, Texas or Oklahoma. It’s out there waiting for YOU to support and love on it. And the people that play it are vastly talented and have become very good friends, I never met him yet but we truly connected today and appreciated one another. I must say he was really a great guy!
How did you get started playing the steel guitar?
I started out playing classical guitar, I was moved to an arts high school where you could major in arts programs and that’s how I started learning how to read music and classical technique. I ended up going to the University Of Oklahoma for that. I dropped out of school and didn’t do anything with music for a while. I was living in Baton Rouge and met some guys that were into the same kind of music I was, everything Parsons, and that was the first time the steel guitar really caught me. I joined a band called the Way Goners out of Hammond Louisiana and started playing pedal steel. It took a couple years before I was any good at it, but pretty much from day one I started performing with it. A lot of four hour bar gigs forced me to learn 40 or 50 licks at a time.
Do you play pedal steel or straight steel, or both?
I play pedal steel, yes
Whom did you start playing for after The Way Goners?
I moved to Oklahoma City and started playing with John Moreland out of Tulsa, and Jeff Hobbs out of Ardmore. I made an album with John Moreland And The Dustbowl Souls. It’s called “In the Throes”.
You played For Kaitlin Butts too right?
Yes, and Cody Jinks and Zane Williams, whole bunch of people really…
Who influenced most as a young player?
The album that I remember studying the most was “High In The Rockies” by Jason Boland. You know it’s got Roger Ray on it, and he’s also an Okie. He’s somebody I really looked up to and I got a chance to open for the Stragglers pretty early on in my career. I was playing with Jeff Hobbs and after the Stragglers set he came offstage with people coming at him, trying to greet him but he made a bee line towards me and asked if I was Johnny. I was kind of star struck and said yeah. He told me how much he enjoyed my stuff with John Moreland, told me to keep it up. That meant a lot to me that someone I looked up to was listening and thought I was on the right track. It truly motivated me early on.
If someone new came up to you and asked I’m a kid I’m new and I would like advice, what would you tell them?
I would say don’t think you have to have certain equipment or sound like other people. Until this past year I had yet to take a real lesson on pedal steel. And it was several years before I ever saw anybody play one in person. It all contributed to my sound. I know I don’t sound like other people and I know i probably have bad techniques, but I have always found my own voice through not knowing how to sound like other people. When people hear my steel guitar they know it’s me. I also have a bunch of instructional videos on my personal Youtube page GO HERE to see what he has up to offer you free of charge!
That answered my next question, you are very unique you don’t sound like anybody else. Wade Bowen came to town and had Miss Kaitlin with him I was hoping I’d get to meet you. I’m enjoying Country Music even more now from these interviews, because I have a better understanding of people like you.
Hopefully Kaitlin reads this! My first steel guitar was, you know everybody goes out and gets a Sho Bud Maverick that had sixty owners, where as I had a Fender steel with three pedals and one knee lever. I didn’t know it even had a knee lever until I was boxing it back up to ship it to the next guy. There’s so much I didn’t know that I had to learn on my own. Making my own repairs on it, the guitar I bought next I bought seen only in pictures. I didn’t know what to look for, so when it wasn’t until the the guitar arrived that I noticed the under carriage was all gunked up and dirty, levers not pulling true. I took the whole guitar apart and cleaned it. I put it all back together as best as I could not knowing exactly how the changer and tension works. Just getting it to work right made me a better player. I know it had nothing to do with music really but it did help me understand a lot.
Are you on the road full time, do you have anybody staple that you play with now?
I been doing a lot of studio work as of lately, but until the albums come out, you can find me with either Jacob Flint or Wink Burcham. I have an album coming out with Cole Porter Band which has the guitar player from Cody Jinks first four records..so that’ll be a cool one coming out soon. I got to play all the steel on Cody Jinks’ new album ‘I’m Not The Devil’ that’s out right now. Jeff Hobbs new album “Upward” will be released soon. There is some stuff I’ve tracked out I don’t know how far along they are but hopefully there will be new releases with Schuyler Prenger And The Dirt Road Junkies, Dylan Stewart, Johnathan White from Sons Of Strangers, Jonnah Liddell. It was great getting to work with producers like Mike McClure and Wes Sharon.
I really enjoy including more Red Dirt into my website program and I love the differences and similarity in our local scenes.
I never paid much attention to the Nashville scene but to say that filling up the Exit Inn wasn’t a highlight of my career would be false.
I have so many different series going on within my website that sometimes It’s hard to keep them all well groomed and current, but I do. This endeavor turned out to be a major undertaking in both a positive and negative way for me but I took the negative a turned it into a learning experience to which I could still capitalize on as a man. Attempting to pin some of these hard working steel guitarists down has been a challenge, people THINK the music business is one big party, or a wild drunk fest full of drugs and women…and it’s not. ANYTHING can be turned into that I suppose but most people don’t STOP and understand the time and effort placed into pulling off a profitable show.
I have been wanting to do this project for some time now and I either didn’t have the time or the resources to pull it off in the fashion it deserves to be done in, I don’t do ANYTHING half assed or in hokey fashions. I comb my information but sometimes I make horrible face palm to the forehead mistakes and I retreat with my tail between my legs…but I come back out swinging and more aggressive than I was when I made that mistake. I know THE PEOPLE that once graced the stages of Country Music behind the steel guitar, Pete Drake, Hal Rugg, Ralph Mooney,Little Roy Wiggins and the Legends of the instrument. BUT when it came to tuning and how it works I once knew nothing about it, and I thought well HOW can I write about Country Music in Nashville and NOT KNOW?
Country Music has THREE staple pillars of it’s foundation or it’s backbone if you will. Those are in this order the songwriter, the producer, and the steel guitar in my opinion it takes those three to make a classic Country Music album. My point being Willie Nelson “Red Headed Stranger” and “Wanted The Outlaws” as two prime examples that had all three. Shooter will tell you rapidly “Wanted The Outlaws” was the first platinum selling Country Music album EVER and defied the scorn it was initially given by Nashville in the 1970’s.
Local music as a whole contains such a plethora of well rounded steel guitarists and pickers waiting for you to discover them if you are willing to wade through the broken beer bottles and travel the worn out back alleys of America you will find them. You have to look in the places most normal people wouldn’t, and you have to listen. You have to brave the heat and cold and discomfort of the fields and farms that spew forth these festivals, mostly you have to study and watch for them.
I cover over 9,000 songwriters,bands and artists on here from six different genres and many of them involve steel guitarists in some fashion or another. I know TONS of them but YOU might not so I thought WHY NOT start interviewing THEM and bringing THEM to the forefront so we can better appreciate the artists they play for? I don’t ask many questions about their “boss” unless it’s a mutual band, BUT many of them are readily willing to divulge information about the man (or woman) up in the front that employs them. In fact I am enjoying these last few years where the WOMEN have been releasing the stronger albums like Sunny Sweeney and Margo Price.
This installment of my series brings me to the telephone with the current steel guitarist for Cody Jinks And The Tone Deaf Hippies and his name is Mr. Austin Tripp he called from south Carolina last night and graciously donated some time with Gary Hayes Country and I thank him SO MUCH for this opportunity to bring you folks this article!
How did you get started playing the steel guitar?
Well, it’s really a long story short but I used to play the fiddle and I began playing it at eleven or twelve. They used to have country music shows out at a little antique shop close to where I lived, and they had a fiddle player there that I befriended around the end of 2004. We went out there to the store, they had a steel player and a fiddle player and banjo there was a bunch of people. I was interested in watching the fiddle player and it was mostly Bluegrass but every once in awhile that steel player would start up and I was like man that sound. The sound of it is what attracted me to it and I got to watching him play a little lick, and I didn’t know nothing about it. I didn’t know what the instrument was called I didn’t know anything.
I finally got the courage to approach him and ask him what it was and he said it’s a pedal steel guitar, I said well I got to learn how to play one. He said well, I’m not a really good teacher but I can show you a few things. The problem was I didn’t have one and I didn’t know where to even find one and it was hard for him to show me on his and have to sit down and play it. So in the summer of 2004 and 2005 I worked all summer for a friend of mine and bailed hay to save up money to buy my first steel.
I couldn’t make it do what I wanted, I couldn’t make it do the crying and all that stuff but he lead me along, and I got to where I wanted and after a month and a half of getting one, I got started playing with him. He also plays the guitar and he would play it and let me play steel behind him, and the rest is history. I love the sound of it and I love the challenge that it put up, I’m one of those types that loves a challenge. I kind of got bored with the fiddle to be honest, and I was looking for a challenge and I found it in the pedal steel guitar.
How long did you play before you played for Cody Jinks, and how did you start with Mr. Cody?
I started playing professionally since 2009 and I was still in high school. I got offered to go on the road with a band called Broken road, we played with many acts. We played all over Georgia, parts of Florida, Alabama and Louisiana. We opened for Jake Owen, Colt ford and few others, and I would get to know their steel players and know the bands. Fortunately right after I graduated high school I got the call to go out on the road with Easton Corbin, I didn’t know much about the road, I was green. I didn’t know anything about life on the road I was just getting exposed to it. Thankfully one thing lead to another and after doing shows with Easton I did shows Jake Owen and up to about 2010 I started doing shows with Blake Shelton and that lead me to my big gig and that was with Luke Bryan. And I was with Luke for a year and a half.
I took some time off from playing to care for my grandmother who passed away in 2013 from breast cancer. I took some time off to care for her and started working a manufacturing job for about three years. When my grandmother passed on I got the itch and I was ready to get back out on the road, and play music full time. One night I messaged Brett Robinson who plays for Whitey Morgan, and asked him questions about his guitar. He had got a brand new one and I was just asking him about it, we got to become friends both on Facebook and talking on the phone.
One day I got the courage and I asked him man, who plays for Cody Jinks? And he said well right now nobody, they are going through some lineup changes and nobody was playing for him. Brett was playing for him but it was wearing him down because he was setting up playing with the 78’s doing sound check and playing shows with both bands. I said ask him if he needs a steel player and about six months later in August of 2016 on my birthday I was on my way to work. Brett called me and sang Happy Birthday to me and he said I got you a present and I said what’s that? He said in two weeks you are going to start with Cody Jinks if you want, I said HELL YES so two weeks later I loaded up my steel and headed for Texas and that’s how I started playing with him, and I been with him ever since.
Without giving away secrets what makes up your sound, and what do you different from other people?
My biggest thing is I don’t follow the mainstream steel players, and I’m not taking anything away form them by no means and I learned a lot from them guys like Paul Franklin and Mike Johnson, those guys. But my biggest thing is what Cowboy Eddie Long told me years ago, he said when you play the steel play the way YOU want to play it and play what you hear and that will set you aside from everybody else. I can hear a song and put my own twist on it because I didn’t want to be like everyone else, and I have a unique sound and a style of playing.
The best way to describe it is when Cowboy Eddie did the first two Jamey Johnson records they just set up in the studio and put a microphone up and just played, they didn’t go back and redo anything. That’s what mad me really pull away from mainstream steel guitarists. My tone is really in my guitar, I’m endorsed by BMI and I have been for a year now. We designed this guitar around MY OWN specifications and I feel VERY comfortable behind my guitar. It’s a mix of Eddie Long’s tuning and my own personal tuning and we put custom pickups in it, and it’s MY weapon. It goes back to every steel player since the 1950’s they say it’s in the hands.
What’s your plans for the future, I see you are hitting the road again soon?
We have a lot of stuff going on, this year I believe is going to be the year for Cody Jinks And The Tone Deaf Hippies. There’s a lot of stuff that is happening right now, you know Cody’s been in it for ten plus years and It’s only March, well we did two tours this year. This last tour we did Conan O Brian and Music City Roots show in Nashville and that wasn’t mainstream TV that’s local in Nashville but Cody said that’s the first time he’s ever done anything like before and of course Conan that was new for all of us.
This year we have shows opening up for Jamey Johnson and we have a few festivals, but we are going into the studio I think sometime in the fall and release a new album. We have already been to the studio a good bit recording a few songs here and there, we did that cover of the Pink Floyd song Wish You Was here, and that actually surprised us all because we had no idea it was even going to be released. We kind of done it as a last minute deal and I think it made it up to number four on the Texas charts and on the national ones I think it made it up to number twenty eight. I couldn’t believe it blew up because there’s not many people who could take a classic rock song and turn it in to a country song and make a hit out of it.
Well you know Whitey Morgan did that with a Springsteen song. I started incorporating more Red Dirt into my website and even though that crowd isn’t embracing Nashville they do really well out here and I’m enjoying it.
Well the Texas music comes back to me and you know people listen to what the radio gives them to listen to and sadly enough they don’t play anything from any of the Texas guys and it’s sad because that to me is music that’s the way I feel. When I get on my motorcycle and take a ride some of the Texas songs like Jason Isbell and Wade Bowen are what get me into my feelings and that’s the kind of stuff that I listen to. It should be played on mainstream radio but they wont because it doesn’t sell to teenagers today I guess unfortunately.
Now I’m getting three to five thousand hits a day and I can’t get over that five thousand mark but people like what I feature.
It’s getting out there and honestly I have been a fan of Cody’s before I even worked with him, just because he has pushed the music out there and he’s trying to get above that Red Dirt scene and sort of branch out and get above and beyond and rise up but he’s staying true to where he came from. That’s what I love about working for him, we do everything our way but our way is the people’s way and that’s what I love about him. They come from all over to the shows and a lot of times we see the same crowd which is awesome, the last show we did in Denver Colorado and there were people there from Tennessee and Arkansas and I had a friend fly in from Georgia to see us. They want that rawness, they don’t want the orchestrated concert that you pay seventy five to a hundred dollars to see and you’re sitting in the nosebleed section. They want to see the rawness of the real deal I guess you could say.
Your Flockers are a very strong following let me tell you,I have had a lot of dealings with them. Let me tell you I’m involved in many scenes being the type of media that I am. I’m in with Bluegrass people and the Muddy Roots people and Americana folks, and they are a pretty dedicated bunch.
They are very dedicated and you know I started right at the end of August and I was number fifteen hundred or sixteen hundred. At that time Cody did not have anything to do with the Flocker group, they started themselves and asked him if they could start a fan group. Cody said go ahead you can run it and do whatever you want to, so it did. Now they are up to twelve or thirteen thousand members and they’re dedicated. They come to every show there’s a least a row of them at every show and it’s awesome I love them, they’re a fun group of people.
At every show there’s always one or two that keep us entertained and they take pictures for us and things like that. They help us like on April the sixth there’s a show in Nashville to honor Merle Haggard, they had posted that they were looking for talent. Man, the Flockers got on there and started blowing it up by posting get Cody Jinks, get Cody Jinks and they had to shut the page down. They were trying so hard to get us on the show.
As a steel guitarist who influenced you the most?
I would probably have to say Cowboy Eddie Long, I don’t know him too good and I have only met him a couple of times but he showed me many things on the steel guitar and I have known him for about a year now. I would have to say the style and the way I play it would have to be Cowboy Eddie. But alongside him would have to be Ralph Mooney, I been listening to Waylon for as long as I can remember. I loved the song Rainy Day Woman and I remember hearing Ralph start it off with that steel, when I first started playing the steel I was venturing more towards Ralph Mooney his tone and his style. He said in an interview one time his style was simple but effective and you know he was with Waylon until the day that he died.
Yes, and he was the first steel guitarist to ever be put in the front line, Ralph Mooney was. Now I notice you sit to Mr. Cody’s left is that the reason you do that?
You know really Cody loves the steel and I watched videos of his past steel players and I wanted also to sit right beside him, and I asked him where do you want me to sit? He said man I need you on the front line so people can hear your leads. That’s another reason I love him he doesn’t care about just him, I don’t care about exposure for me but I love it when people come up and ask hey what is that you’re playing. Cause I’m right up front and everyone sees me and they cannot miss me.
They ask questions and that’s what I love, we were playing a show at the Wescott Theater in Syracuse New York and there was young man that I have pictures of on my Facebook of he was right up front all night. I was watching him study me all night he was probably about ten or eleven and he was just amazed by what I was doing. After the show I was walking out to the bus, and his dad stopped me and just like I asked that guy, he said man what is that you’re playing? I said It’s a pedal steel guitar he said my son was amazed by it and I brought him on the stage and he sat behind it,I let him play it and he said it was so cool.
He was inspired and I’m pretty sure his parents were out a lot of money in those next few days but that’s what I like. I like to be on the front line to inspire as many people I possibly can. I don’t want to say it’s dying but on mainstream country radio, it’s gone. The Texas guys are pulling it out but man I don’t want to see it die.
That’s why I wanted to start this series because there are so many of you in I want to say underground music per say, and there a lot of bands that have steel guitarists but nobody knows about them.
Yeah, probably in the past ten years it’s just dropped out so much and I know everybody rags on Luke Bryan and those guys but you know I worked with him and Luke has a steel player right now but it’s just not headlining like it was back in the day. The one that is promoting it the most right now is Easton Corbin with Jamie Lennon.
I agree with you and I think Jon Pardi is doing it really well too.
Jon’s good his steel player is a good friend of mine Andy Ellison.
Yes,I’m going to get him on this series soon.
And there are several young steel players that I’m friends with on Facebook I haven’t had the opportunity to meet them yet but there is a young kid I think he’s thirteen named Jacob King he’s playing a lot of the Midwest steel guitar shows. They’re great steel players not like when I first started I didn’t even have Youtube to learn by so they got a little advantage on me, I love to see young people playing the steel. I’m still young but I love the younger people sitting down and getting involved with it. And it’s addictive once it starts I want to see them on the Grand Ole Opry.
I’d like to see you on it too, my main goal when I started this website is I want people like Whitey Morgan and Cody Jinks and my daughter who is twenty, I want her to able to say they are Legends when she’s forty. That’s what I want.
Somebody asked me the other day there was some thing that was comparing Cody and Whitey to Waylon and Willie and all that. It comes down to Waylon and Willie and Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard they didn’t get to where they were by following someone else, and that’s what we are doing. We’re doing our own thing and it takes time. Time and exposure is the key and eventually I think everybody is going to get turned on to our music. For Whitey Morgan he’s been at it for a while now and this will be a big year. For all of those guys this year will be the year a lot of people wake up and say hey these guys got something going on.
Another thing with Whitey and Cody and people like Ward Davis, our fans are their fans and vice versa and a lot of time they will go to both shows in one night or two. There’s a circle fans if Whitey’s close they’ll go to his show and if we’re close they’ll go to our show and that’s a great thing. It’s not just we only like this guy or we only like that guy let’s not go to it.
Well every scene is like that, I was going to go see The Reverend Horton Heat and the G damn Gallows but I covered them many times and I decided on Wade Bowen. I am trying to incorporate more of the Texas music into this and even if I have to take off work I’ll do it to get to see people like Sunny Sweeney. She needs to be an Opry member, hell she plays more than some of the members.
Yes, I cannot wait for that day. Brett and I were fortunate enough about three weeks ago to get to see her there. The night before she had her Trophy release at the Basement East. There were several people there Larry Gaitlin and Crystal Gayle and several others were there. When she started it was just Aw Goodness. It made me feel like back in the sixties it was Country Music and that’s what it comes down to. She’s Country Music.
I think with the new management being a woman she might speak to her musically from a different standpoint than a man and I think she has a really good chance. She will speak to her from a whole different level.
I believe so she’s doing a lot of things right. This CD I listened to it before it came out and there’s several songs on there that will go places. When she released that song from a table away it went up the charts and that’s the first song I ever heard her do, and I believe it’s going to be her year as well.
Ahh the perils of working second shifts where the quandary of the day of whether to take off or watch shows on my phone at lunch breaks. I try my best to watch Music City Roots from the Factory in Franklin Tennessee every Wednesday night, I know last week they featured Leigh Nash from Sixpence None The Richer. She is releasing a REALLY GOOD Country album that she played a few songs from. This weekly show is hosted by Country Songwriting Legend Jim Lauderdale and broadcasting Legend Keith Bilbrey where they bring out featured Americana and Roots music with every show.
As you may already know Cody Jinks And The Tone Deaf Hippies made my number three spot for my TOP 50 Of 2016 for last year and also I recently covered one of his sold out Nashville shows at 3Rd And Lindsley, you can read about that all HERE. If you already want tickets to this show, it usually sells out and you can go HERE and get them cheap.
Cody Jinks has become an underground sensation in the last few years by selling out venues ALL OVER America. He played a FREE show at Grimey’s here in Nashville where he released “I’m Not The Devil” on LP where it sold thousands of copies in it’s first week, you can read about THAT HERE. He has built a plethora of followers that travel long distances to see his shows and buy his music, and they call themselves “Flockers”. Akin to other bands such as Hank Williams 3, and many others I could name Cody Jinks has amassed a long list of accomplishments that are garnishing the Nashville suits and making them cringe like someone is scratching a chalkboard.
Also I want to spoil a little upcoming series for you that Cody’s steel guitarist Mr. Austin Tripp will be a part of. Right now I want to introduce a NEW “Steel Guitarist Series” where I’ll be visiting with local bands that have steel pickers. I’m going to delve into their sound, and who influenced them. Where did they come from, and how did they get involved with their current band? ALL THIS AND MORE will be soon found out!
Old Salt Union has gone through some recent lineup changes in the past year however they remain a viable must see at festivals and shows alike. Their St. Louis style string band fury has been unleashed upon unsuspecting crowds some 200 shows a year and they are a VERY hardworking band. Their new EP called ‘Cut And Run” made my honorable mention list and I truly enjoyed that album and look anticipate much more music from these boys!
There will also be performances by these artists as well so be sure to tune into this weekly show and support really terrific artists. To be honest I find a LOT of great underground acts from this show and it supports my community with music. THAT is an important factor when people like me write about this type of thing!