Standing well over six feet tall, shaved head, and tattoos blazing, most people would assume that Brandon Jenkins is a hard rock act or at least a professional wrestler, but nothing could be farther from the truth. As part of the “Red Dirt” music scene in Oklahoma for more than a decade, he has honed his skills and made a name for himself as one of the premier performing songwriters around. Promoting his sixth release “Down In Flames” on Western Soul Records, Jenkins has assembled an incredible touring band and undertaken a hellacious touring schedule moving him to the forefront of the Progressive Country movement. Recently signed to a national distribution deal with Sony/Red, he is making his presence known with his latest hit single “The Whole World’s Gone Crazy”.
Difficult to corral into one musical style, Jenkins’ music seems to reach far beyond any one type of classification. His commanding voice immediately makes you think of country music, but he isn’t “singing country” as much as he’s “singing Okie” which is to say he is simply singing his life. Though country, rock, and blues are all categories that his diversity allows him to be a part of, he continues to stand on his own. Soulful, poetic, rowdy, and fun; he explores all these things and more, sometimes simultaneously, and does it without the least bit of pretension. He writes songs the way they’re supposed to be: real stories about the heart of living, framed by an acoustic guitar.
The road to success has not been easy for Jenkins; it has had several peaks, valleys, and a few sharp turns. Starting with his first record deal in 1994 with Alabama label Raney Records, things started out with a bang. The label sent him on the road in a silver eagle, raking in the money from playing big country dance halls. Beneath the success though, a storm was brewing. The country “hat act” the label had turned him into was not setting well with Brandon. His artistic freedom was non-existent and the constant traveling was beginning to take its toll.
In 1995 Brandon left the label and signed with manager R. C. Bradley (Dwight Yoakam, Jim Lauderdale). By spring, he had made the move to Nashville, but things there would not go well. “Everywhere I went they told me the same thing; that I had a great voice but I didn’t have the right look, or my song was too risque.” This only reinforced his resolve to be his own man. After less than a year, he decided to go back to his base in Oklahoma. This time, he would follow his own artistic vision, transforming himself from a longhaired country “hat act” into a bald headed tattooed singer/songwriter.
“I decided from here on out I’m going to be myself, and damn the consequences.”
Being true to himself has proved successful. Jenkins has built a large and loyal following of fans. He has shared the stage with the likes of Willie Nelson, Pat Green, David Allen Coe, Charlie Daniels, Cory Morrow, Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, The Mavericks, Hal Ketchum, Steven Stills, BR-549, Jack Ingram, John Anderson, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
In 2002 Jenkins wrote the theme song “I Could Be Your Superman” to the motion picture “Sam And Janet” starring Gary Busey. Last year brought another exciting opportunity when Jenkins collaborated with Grammy award-winning producer Pete Anderson (best known for his work with Dwight Yoakam) on a compilation CD called “A Country West Of Nashville” containing some of America’s best artists not on a major label. Several artists of distinction have recorded Brandon’s songs as well, including Billy Vera (1987 mega hit “At This Moment”, and TV show “The King Of Queens” theme song), Stoney LaRue, and Bleu Edmonson to name a few.
Jenkins’ music has received several awards and acknowledgments for his work. Winner of “Best Video” for “Down In Flames” at The 2005 AMN Video Awards, and Payne County Line Music Awards, Nominated for Album Of The Year at the Gruene With Envy Music Awards in 2003 and 2004, winner of Song Of The Year for “My Feet Don’t Touch The Ground” at the 2003 Oklahoma Red Dirt Music Awards, and Winner of the 2001 Jim Beam Music B.E.A.M. Music Grant.
With his latest album, “Down In Flames,” Jenkins continues to create honest music on his own terms. Not tied down by someone else’s dreams or ideas, Jenkins has finally been able to craft an album of 10 tracks using his own vision.
“Over the years there have been a lot of obstacles to overcome, but looking back I don’t think I would change a thing; and it’s going to make the success of this project that much sweeter.”
“Down in flames” 2004