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The Music of Cliff Jinks

Not far from Buckeye Lake in Ohio, there once was a big outdoor concert venue, and a lot of people from the early 1970s to the early 1980s went there to see all kinds of music. The man responsible for starting the concerts near Buckeye Lake was my great uncle, Cliff Jinks. Cliff married my Grandpa Paxton's sister, Helen in 1938. Cliff worked on the railroad, and he's the one who helped get my Grandfather hired on the railroad in 1950. Cliff and my grandfather both were Conductors on the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad. Cliff owned a big farm along the highway in Jacksontown, not far from Thornville, and he loved music. Cliff loved country music, and he had a big old Gibson guitar and a nice Martin guitar, and he wrote songs about the railroad. He decided to build an outdoor venue where country musicians could come and play, and it started to take off. Cliff got to hang out with many big country legends in the 1970s as a result.

Cliff played a mix of old country standards and some original songs that he and his friend Herbie Tipton wrote. The original songs are of particular interest to me, they discuss the railroad and life in small town Ohio. One of Cliff's original songs in particular, "The B&O Vets", discusses the old steam engine trains, and is definitely very Americana... Thus, definitely part of our shared American history and roots heritage.

Here are the words to Cliff's song "The B&O Vets":

One of Cliff's friends who worked on the railroad wrote a lot of good poetry, and his name was Herb Tipton. Herbie didn't play any music, but Cliff sometimes wrote music for some of Herbie's poems. Here is one of Herbie's poems that Cliff put music to and sang, and it's a train poem called "Switching Cars in Zanesville" (Ohio):

My Grandpa, Don Paxton, took his camcorder over to Cliff's house back in 1986 and filmed him playing his old songs, and this is the only known recording of Cliff's songs ever. Grandpa let me borrow it, and I made a copy of the VHS, and also mixed each track onto 2 CDs. I gave the original VHS back to Grandpa, along with CD copies of the audio. Of course, I kept CD copies for myself too, and studied the origins of many of the great classic country songs that Cliff played. There are Jimmie Rodgers songs on there, and many other classic country standards. Now, I'm a big fan of Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb because of that tape!

Here is what Cliff played on the only known audio and/or video recording of him performing in existence (that we know of):

Cliff Jinks performing on 10-2-1986:

1. Waltz Across Texas (Ernest Tubb) 2. Old Shep (Arthur Foley) 3. One Day at a Time* (Kristofferson / Wilki) 4. Mother, Queen of my Heart (Bryant / Jimmie Rodgers) 5. The Last Letter* (Rex Griffin) 6. Signed Sealed and Delivered (Cowboy Copas / Mann) 7. Only Want a Buddy, Not a Sweetheart* (Jones) 8. Cowboy Jack* (Traditional / Carter Family) 9. The Alabama Jubilee (Cobb / Yellen) 10. Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever Been Blue)? (Brown / DeRose) 11. Waitin' For A Train (Jimmie Rodgers) 12. Freight Train Blues* (Traditional / Roy Acuff) 13. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain* (Rose) 14. No Letter Today* (Brown) 15. Too Late (Wakely) 16. Wabash Cannon Ball* (Traditional / Carter Family) 17. Footprints in the Snow (Traditional) 18. I Am My Own Grandpa (Jaffe / Latham) 19. Wreck of the Old '97 (Traditional) 20. She'll Be Comin' Around the Mountain (Traditional) (Instrumental Guitar with Harmonica) 21. Redwing (Instrumental Guitar with Harmonica) (Chattaway / Mills / Traditional) 22. Instrumental (Unknown) (guitar with Harmonica) 23. Mountain Dew* (Lunsford / Wiseman / Traditional) 24. Tennessee Waltz* (King / Stewart) 25. The Green, Green Grass of Home* (Curly Putnam) 26. Cliff's song (song to Helen) (Cliff Jinks) 27. Hard Times (words written by Herbie Tipton, music by Cliff Jinks) 28. Switching Cars in Zanesville (words written by Herbie Tipton, music by Cliff Jinks) 29. The B&O Vets ("the Steam Engine Vets") (song originally written by Cliff Jinks in 1968) 30. Ode to Ronnie (song making fun of Ronald Reagan) (words written by Herbie Tipton, music by Cliff Jinks) 31. Hey, Good Lookin' (Hank Williams)

Also, on the same VHS tape, there is some more footage of Cliff performing 2 years later - on Cliff and Helen's 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Here is what Cliff Jinks played on 5-1-1988:

1. Waitin' For A Train (Jimmie Rodgers) 2. "50 Years Ago Today"... (?) (Cliff Jinks) 3. "50 Years Ago Today"... (?) (Cliff Jinks) 4. Meganís Rocker (written by Cliff Jinks) 5. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (Harris)

Songs marked with * after the title mean that Don Paxton accompanied Cliff Jinks with some backing vocals on these tracks. All of these recordings were recorded by Don Paxton on his camcorder in 1986, and the last five songs were recorded in 1988. These recordings were then recorded onto CD by Lee Paxton on December 10, 2003.

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