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What's Happenin' With James
It’s all about passion
Growing up in Kellyville, Oklahoma, James Robert Webb admits that there must be something in the musical waters around the state. Three of his biggest musical heroes all come from his home state.
“I would say that Garth Brooks, Ronnie Dunn, and Toby Keith would be the three that I grew up listening to,” Webb recalls. “I never had any vocal training or sang with a group or anything. I was just always a musician in the band.” As far as newer performers, he adds that he’s a “big fan of Lee Brice and Cole Swindell.” Webb says when it comes to what affects him most about a song, he has a few basic rules of thumb. “It has to be about the melody and the chord progression. That’s where it has to start with me.”
Webb feels he has exactly those types of songs on his newest release, Pictures. “I’m really happy with how the record turned out,” he said. “The title track is one that Arlo Smith and Tommy Conners wrote that I think is lyrically the best song on there.” Webb says the song is very much in the style of Tim McGraw, adding that “I was trying to include a few snapshots of my different musical influences on the album. The first track is called “Party In The Barn,” which is very much a throw-back Garth Brooks / Kim Williams kind of song. We’ve also got a straight-up western swing song. I really wanted to take people on a journey through all my influences,” he said. Indeed, James Robert Webb is all over the musical map. In high school, his talents earned him distinction as an all-state jazz piano player, and his college years saw him be even more influenced by that style.” I remember playing a lot of Harry Connick, Jr-type stuff, for sure,” he says.
Webb entered The University of Oklahoma to follow a medical career, but music has always been the thing that has made him tick- even back to the beginning. “Some of my earliest memories were riding around in my dad’s truck listening to Marshall Tucker Band’s ‘Fire On The Mountain.’ I also remember him listening to The Beach Boys and Merle Haggard.” His parents also introduced him to such seminal albums as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
Those sounds sparked an interest in music that he couldn’t deny any longer. “Mom had a piano in the house. I took piano lessons for about a year or two when I was little, but once I started to learn, I played by ear more than I read music. I was in band and played saxophone, and then gravitated toward drums.” James Robert got his first guitar – a gift from his father – when he was fourteen.
In high school, though activities like sports vied for his attention, music always came first. His initial concert experience – Contemporary Christian legend Russ Taff definitely left a mark on him. “One of the things about his music was that it made you think. That was the first time I started to notice the cleverness of songwriting.”
Throw in his love of the stage and entertaining fans, and James Robert Webb is ready, willing, and able to hit the spotlight. “I love connecting with people live. Even if I’m playing with a full band, I like to take a few moments to where I strip it down with just me and a guitar. Sometimes, that’s the best I can do when I can see people really getting in to it, and I try to make sure people are having a good time. If they’re having a good time, then I am too,” he reasons.
Fans are definitely becoming attached to his most recent radio single, “Makin’ Love Tonight.” Written by Daniel Kleindienst and Mike Brandon, the song touched a nerve with him – and he feels that it will with others. “If you’ve been married or in a relationship, you can kind of relate to the whole premise of it – why would we want to fight when we could be makin’ love tonight? It’s a great hook, and has been doing well.”