Album Review – Cody Jinks – “Red Rocks Live”

photo: Jason DeRamo

Cody Jinks did not become one of the most successful artists in independent country music to the point where he’s now minting Gold and Platinum records from the support of some record label, mainstream radio play, opportunities on big tours, shout outs from major celebrities, or fawning coverage from the press.

Aside from a weekend DJ named Ben Ryan on the small radio station ‘The Ranch’ in Fort Worth who almost got fired for playing Cody so much, Jinks went mostly ignored by much of the music world as he quietly amassed one of the largest and most loyal fans bases in the genre. It’s Cody’s songs, and the connections made with fans through his live shows that have Jinks defying odds, and rewriting the possibilities for independent country artists.

Adding to his arsenal of studio projects, Cody Jinks unleashes his first proper concert album called Red Rocks Live, recorded professionally at the legendary venue of the same name situated between the painted boulders of picturesque Colorado. A sweeping work of 23 songs encapsulating the lion’s share of Cody’s song legacy with little banter or cover material, Jinks and his band capture a spirited rendition of what you experience live, which is a high-energy and tightly-performed hard country show, ranging from blistering fist-pumping moments to more reserved and meaningful ones.

The first big question with any live release for audiophiles and general fans alike is the quality of the recordings. Red Rocks Live is a fine specimen of live material, with crowd noise included at the beginning and end of songs, but not overbearing during them, putting you as close to in-person as possible, with clean-enough signals to appreciate and delineate the separate players. It’s a fairly conventional, but quite successful live release.

The live context allows for Cody’s band “The Tonedeaf Hippies” to stretch their legs a bit more than they do in the studio, with lead guitar player Chris Claridy, keyboard player Drew Harakal, and steel player Austin “Hot Rod” Tripp taking full advantage of this opportunity on certain tracks. Guests include Cody’s own mother early on, appropriately on “Mamma Song,” and Paul Cauthen on the song “Big Last Name.” Though covers are a custom on many live records and in the Cody Jinks setlist, Alan Jackson’s “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” is the only one that adorns this particular set of songs.

More than just capturing the music, Red Rocks Live captures an important moment in the maturation of Cody Jinks. Similar to his feat of selling out the Ryman Auditorium on consecutive nights across enemy lines in Nashville a few years ago, filling every seat at Red Rocks was not just a bucket list achievement for Jinks, it was a shot across the bow of the mainstream, and an illustration of the commercial prowess emerging in the independent ranks—the picture of Cody on the cover standing at center stage in front of a sea of fans says it all.

The album also captures why so many trekked to Colorado to hear Cody Jinks perform, from the swell of anticipation you can hear from the crowd as the intro to the song “I’m Not The Devil” takes shape, to bringing the house lights up having everyone sing along to his signature songs like “Cast No Stones” and “Hippies and Cowboys” near the end of the set. Cody also appropriately slipped in “Colorado” before ending with his now Platinum-selling single “Loud and Heavy.”

Cody Jinks doesn’t sing to his fans, or for his fans. Cody Jinks sings with his fans. He’s one of them—a man “Somewhere in the Middle” like he sings about in the middle of this set. And the connection he makes with his fans—from the dedicated “Flockers,” to more everyday traditional and Outlaw country listeners—is something tough to quantify or explain unless you’ve experienced it. But it comes close to being captured in recorded form on Red Rocks Live.

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The live album is now available for purchase, and you can also sign up for the live stream on Saturday (12-5) evening.

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