to perform at Opry
by Tamela Meredith Partridge
So what does Nashville’s hottest new country group, Pinmonkey, have in common with cartoon icon, Homer Simpson? Would you believe a bowling alley?
“I’m a huge fan of The Simpsons,” says Pinmonkey lead singer, Michael Reynolds. “Kim Weber, who books a Nashville, Tennessee, nightclub called the Sutler Saloon, called me at the house one day in early 1999 and said, ‘Okay, I’m getting ready to send the club’s listings for the week to the newspaper. If you want to be listed as a band, you need to give me a name right now!’ Well, the episode where Homer Simpson yearns to work at a bowling alley setting up the pins was literally on the TV at that moment. I said, ‘Okay, Pinmonkey!’”
The four men of Pinmonkey—consisting of Michael Reynolds (lead vocals), Rick Schell (drums), Chad Jeffers (dobro/lap steel) and Michael Jeffers (bass)—combined equal parts country, bluegrass and rock in their ’02 self-titled debut album, Top Twenty debut single, “Barbed Wire and Roses” and current hit, “I Drove All Night.”
“By the time the record companies came around, we had a vision of where we thought this band would go,” Chad Jeffers says. “We don’t sound like anybody else, but there’s something very marketable here, very mainstream. We sat down at lunch and went on a search for a new name. That’s the one time we thought we needed to conform to Nashville. But, you know, Pinmonkey helps describe us. Our name is so different and our music is so different. Once you get the two together, it makes sense.”
It also makes sense to combine the talents of Pinmonkey and country artist, Tammy Cochran in a duo headlining concert at The Little Nashville Opry on Saturday, April 12 at 6 pm and 9:30 pm.
With her long, blonde hair, the voice of an angel, and a kind, caring nature to match it is easy to see why “Angels In Waiting” singer, Tammy Cochran, is one of Music City’s favorite new female vocalists.
“I can say things in a song to someone that I can’t look them in the face and say,” Cochran says. “It definitely is a therapy for me, and it’s made me get in touch with my feelings a lot more.”
Cochran, who co-wrote “Angels In Waiting” with songwriters Jim McBride and Stewart Harris, has received numerous industry nominations and awards for their emotional song about the loss of her two older brothers to the incurable lung disease of cystic fibrosis—Shawn, in 1980 at age 14, and Alan, in 1991 at age 23. So far, Cochran has received over 28,000 inspirational e-mails from listeners affected by the song’s exquisite message.
“My label was concerned that I wouldn’t like the idea of releasing ‘Angels In Waiting’ as a single,” Cochran says. “I told them that if it is done properly, it could bring a lot of awareness to The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and perhaps help a lot of people in the process. But I wanted my parents approval first. Mom said it best when she stated, ‘This will be a great tribute to your brothers.’”
The Austinberg, Ohio native began her singing career as a teenager by performing at county festivals and clubs with her band, “TC Country.”
“I pretty much played the ‘animal clubs,’” Cochran says. “The Elks, The Moose, The Eagles. My band and I played weddings and fairs and made fifty or sixty dollars each a night. Which was pretty good when most of my friends were working at McDonald’s.”
Cochran moved to Nashville in 1991 with her father, Delmar, a retired heavy equipment operator, and mother, Mabel, a retired private investigator who now sells real estate.
“When we first came here, we didn’t do much for the first year-and-a-half,” Cochran says. “We kind of read books, got to know what the whole deal was about, ’cause there’s a lot more to having a record deal than singing. There’s a lot of other stuff involved, and so we took it really, really slow.”
Cochran worked a series of low-paying retail, fast food and telemarketing jobs in conjunction to playing open-mike nights in various Nashville venues. She finally landed a staff songwriter position with Warner-Chappell music publishing, began shopping her demos on the side and eventually received a major label recording contract in ’98.
Cochran’s self-titled ’01 debut album and ’02 sophomore project “Life Happened,” has resulted in the singles, “If You Can,” “So What,” Angels In Waiting,” “I Cry,” “Life Happened” and current single, “Love Won’t Let Me.”
“I think that music should be comforting, healing and also very real. I want people, when they hear a song, to think to themselves, ‘That is exactly what I was feeling when I was going through this,’ or ‘This is how I am feeling now after going through that.’ I want my music to be relatable.”