By Mike McKenney, Rock At Night New England
Venue: The Greenwich Odeum, East Greenwich, Rhode Island-October 25, 2019–Jimmy Webb with Allysen Callery
At first you may not recognize the name but if you listened to AM radio in the 60’s and 70’s, you know the music. His impressive lineup of hits such as “Up Up and Away” (The 5th Dimension),” MacArthur Park” (Richard Harris), and “The Worst That Could Happen” (Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge) has made him one of music’s most prolific songwriters recorded by artists of all generations and genres. From Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, to Guns N’ Roses, Little Big Town, Jimmy’s work has even been used by rap artist Kanye West (Do What You Gotta Do” a central hook in “Famous”). Songwriter Jimmy Webb wrote many of the hits that dominated the airwaves for decades. He has garnered accolades such as he was the youngest member ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the only artist ever to have received Grammy Awards for music, lyrics and orchestration.
The evening began with the beautiful voice of Allysen Callery. A local talent from Bristol, R.I., Allysen presented herself well with a brief set of her own songs including “Shoot Me”, “Spare Parts”, and “Azores Song” that showcased her unique sound and pleasing vocals.
Callery closed with an exceptional arrangement of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” that left the audience wanting more. Allysen Callery’s performance has earned her a spot on the “Must See” list for anyone in the New England area.
Jimmy Webbs current tour, “An Evening with Jimmy Webb” is about equal parts music and storytelling and Jimmy Webb is a master of both. There is a story for every song and his memories of working with the late great Glen Campbell that had the audience at the Odeum enthralled. “Galveston”, “Wichita Lineman”, and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, were all mega hits for the Webb/Campbell team. While the “Highwayman”, a song about a soul with incarnations in four different places in time and history, Webb tells us also inspired the naming of the super group featuring legends Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.
Throughout the night Jimmy conversed with the audience, performing all his hits and at 73 yrs old, not afraid to ask the crowd for help in hitting some of the high notes. A Master Pianist, Webb also included a selection from his latest album “SlipCover”, his piano interpretations of contemporary composers including friends Billy Joel and Randy Newman.
Jimmy Webb’s latest book, his memoir The Cake and the Rain (2017) brings to life a 15-year span in Webb’s unique career, written with the same sense of poetry and story as his many hits. Webb’s first book, Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting, in addition to being a good read, is considered a “bible” among musicians.Jimmy mentioned that he is still performing 50 to 70 dates a year. For a show that is much more than just a concert, be sure to share “An Evening With Jimmy Webb”.