Cowboys in the Campfire Fri. March 16 No matter your musical happy place, chances are Tommy Stinson is in there somewhere: The multi-fluent guitarist has his fingerprints on four decades as a member and/or sparring partner of The Replacements, Guns N’ Roses, Soul Asylum, Old 97’s and Bash & Pop. Cowboys in the Campfire pits…
Photo By: Devvon Simpson
Firebrand garage punk Tommy Stinson – he of both Replacements AND Guns N’ Roses ill-repute – rolled through the City Beautiful last year with his culty early-’90s project Bash & Pop, amply proving that he had lost none of the grit that made him such a unique figure in the American alternative rock landscape. Something about Orlando must have agreed with him, because he’s coming through town again almost a year later with his Cowboys in the Campfire duo with Chip Roberts. It’s the polar opposite of GNR’s stadium bloat or the reunion nostalgia circuit: a beyond low-key romp through record stores, gallery spaces and sundry nonconventional venues, where Stinson and Roberts will casually workshop new songs from a forthcoming album. This is one of two Florida shows, and you get to shop for records before and after the music. Let’s ramble, ramblers.
9 p.m. Tuesday, March 13 | Park Ave CDs, 2916 Corrine Drive | 407-447-7275 | parkavecds.com | $15-$17
By Dan Kulpa
Replacements Bassist Tommy Stinson has been on quite a roll since the band called it a day in 1991. He formed the band Bash & Pop, spent time in the short-lived, hidden gem of a band, Perfect, played bass with Guns ‘N Roses and Soul Asylum, released a pair of solo albums, and even joined Paul Westerberg in 2014 for a run of reunion shows with the Replacements. After stepping away from Guns ‘N Roses in 2016, Stinson revived Bash & Pop and released the critically acclaimed album, Anything Can Happen. Rather than follow all that up with a well-deserved extended break, Stinson hopped in the car with Chip Roberts, his ex-wife’s uncle and musical collaborator over the last ten years, to play a series of intimate shows as a stripped-down duo. Billing themselves as Cowboys in the Campfire, Stinson and Roberts have been hitting small, often non-traditional venues, including a recent stop at School Kids Records in Raleigh NC.
The current run of Cowboys In The Campfire shows have been hit with some weather-related cancellations due to a late season winter storm that covered the North East in snow, so Stinson and Roberts were as eager for the show as the dedicated fans that braved the cold rainy night in Raleigh. Prior to taking the stage, the duo milled around chatting with friends and fans… You don’t get more intimate than that! As the lights dimmed, Stinson and Roberts made their way to the stage with little fanfare. After the first song, Tommy reminded the room that they were not experiencing a standard show with a barrier and security, and he urged everyone to move up and get close and personal.
Over the course of the next hour, Cowboys in the Campfire played some emotional acoustic versions of songs culled primarily from Stinson’s solo album One Man Mutiny, that Roberts had a hand in writing, as well as some Bash & Pop material. The duo were engaging, funny, and entertaining as Hell. They chatted and joked with each other and their fans between songs, and even in the middle of a song or two. The evening’s performance was a solid mix of songs and stories that ultimately made for a fun night out with a pair of talented and laid-back musicians.
Very rarely do music fans have the opportunity to catch a musician of Tommy Stinson’s stature in such a small and intimate setting. Do yourself a favor and seek out the Cowboys in the Campfire tour, and if the duo is coming to your town make an effort to catch the show… You won’t be sorry.
“We recently mentioned that Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and his pal Jesse Malin played a covers show on New Year’s Eve at Malin’s Lower East Side club Berlin, with an all-star lineup that included appearances by The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, The E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt, Blondie’s Clem Burke, The Hold Steady’s Tad Kubler, Jesse Malin collaborator Don DiLego, Billie Joe’s sons, and others throughout the night. We posted a short video of Billie Joe & co playing The Replacements’ “Color Me Impressed” (with Tommy Stinson), and we’ve now got good quality videos of almost the entire set, taken by Dana Distortion.
They did over 20 covers, including a few Ramones songs and a couple Clash songs, plus The Plimsouls’ “A Million Miles Away,” Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer,” Paul Collins’ The Beat’s “Walk Out of Love,” Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” New York Dolls’ “Pills,” The Kinks’ “Father Christmas,” “The Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks,” Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World,” Blondie’s “One Way or Another,” and more. Billie Joe and Jesse mostly split vocals but a few songs had guest lead singers, including Jesse’s D Generation bandmate Richard Bacchus for D Generation’s “Capitol Offender,” East Village vet Tom Clark on the NY Dolls song, Kris Gruen on The Clash’s “Janie Jones,” and Berlin bartender Amanda Cross on the Blondie song. Watch all the videos here
#8. Bash & Pop, Anything Can Happen That long stint in Guns N’ Roses drove Tommy Stinson to make a full-blown Replacements record, thank God. Meat-and-potatoes rock at its most tender and tasty.
#9 Bash & Pop, “Anything Could Happen”
“Anything Could Happen” finds Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson reviving not only the name but the rollicking, post-Faces rock-and-roll spirit of the early ‘90s group he formed when the Replacements went their separate ways in 1991.
Which is to say if you liked the Replacements, Stinson’s new material should speak directly to the part of you that once responded to the misspent part of his misspent youth with “I’m in love; what’s that song?”
This is the year’s best straight-up rock-and-roll release, from the reckless abandon of “Not This Time” to the understated unplugged charms of “Shortcut,” the bittersweet country of “Anytime Soon” and the singalong chorus of “Never Wanted to Know.”