Rock legend Tommy Stinson comes to Ridgefield with a stripped-down show

Former Guns N’ Roses bassist Tommy Stinson is changing his tune this summer by performing a string of shows in the comfort of people’s backyards — and Ridgefield is his next stop.

Former Guns N’ Roses bassist Tommy Stinson is changing his tune this summer by performing a string of shows in the comfort of people’s backyards — and Ridgefield is his next stop.

Clash Dan / Contributed photo

RIDGEFIELD — Former Guns N’ Roses bassist Tommy Stinson is changing his tune this summer by performing a string of shows in the comfort of people’s backyards — and Ridgefield is his next stop.

Alongside fellow musician and frequent collaborator Chip Roberts, the duo comprise Cowboys in the Campfire. The twangy side project features the songwriters in intimate, “low maintenance” settings, Stinson described — just them and a couple of guitars.

Stinson spoke with The Ridgefield Press ahead of the pair’s next show on June 23, which takes place in a backyard somewhere in town. He discussed the conception of Cowboys, performing amid a pandemic and how his musical outlook has changed over the course of his storied career.

Question: How did the idea for “Cowboys in the Campfire” come up? Was it a byproduct of COVID or something you and Chip had been discussing for a while?

Stinson: Chip and I have been touring under the name Cowboys in the Campfire for a few years now. Four summers back we both didn't have anything to do and thought “let's go play some shows.” We threw a road trip together, played some of the songs we had written together, and it's culminated into what will be our first record. (We do) our best to go out and entertain and have a hoot.

Q: Can you describe how this tour compares to the large-scale arena acts you played with Guns N’ Roses and The Replacements?

Stinson: It's satisfying on a whole different level. With the intimacy of it, you get to meet people more and get right in their face and it's kind of a more special event. It's not like you've got barriers and lights in your face (where) you can't see the audience — you can see every (freaking) pimple from the back of the room. For us, we're trying to keep the drives short so we can enjoy it and not kill ourselves, and keep it low maintenance and have fun with it. That’s really all it’s about for us — to get out and have a good time and play our songs.

Q: What has the fan feedback been like at these backyard shows and socially-distant settings?

Stinson: It's great. There's a lot of times they could be dead quiet and (once) the song’s done they just roar out. But they're listening, they're paying attention, and in that kind of atmosphere you can hear every word I (mess) up as well as every sentence I actually complete. Best of both worlds, I guess.

Q: What has being a musician been like during the pandemic? Has your approach to songwriting changed as a result?

Stinson: For the longest time I kind of went dormant. I wasn't inspired, wasn't feeling into it — I just got into my cocoon and rode it (out). As spring was nearing that's when I started to feel like the clouds (were) lifting a bit. Now we're pretty close to finishing off this record and hopefully, if possible, (we’ll) put it out — one way or the other.

Q: In that similar vein, how do you believe your sound has evolved over the course of your career? What forms of inspiration do you draw from now as opposed to then?

Stinson: As the years go by I become more open to different things musically wise, whether it's country or even jazz. I'm not going to become a jazzer anytime soon, I don’t have the acumen for it, but my mind opens up more to different kinds of styles, melodies and structures, and I get further away from the traditional rock and roll thing that I’ve been on for so long.

Q: What’s your take on today’s music scene? Are there any new artists out there you enjoy?

Stinson: There’s a guy named Jerry Leger from Canada who I caught on to recently that I like, another singer-songwriter guy. I've been following Sharon Van Etten quite a bit, I like her a lot, Brandi Carlile, of course, and some of the lesser knowns, too. Danielle Howle is a great songwriter from (the) North Carolina area. I’ve just been picking up on these off-the-beaten-path rock and Americana groups.

Q: Many fans have missed out on live music over the past year. As people rush to return to normal, what do you hope this tour can provide to audiences?

Stinson: I hope they like it. I hope it turns into our own little niche that we can keep hitting and working with because we really enjoy playing these shows. Last night was our first one, and I don't think I can remember having a first show go so well and be so fun. (Sometimes) you’re nervous or crap because you haven't rehearsed or whatever, but last night was pretty good — I was pretty happy with it.

Q: What has been your favorite memory from the tour thus far? What is something fans would be surprised to know about?

Stinson: (In Riverton, New Jersey) they had these two giant English Sheepdogs that kind of wandered around, one of them wandered on stage after we played. They just kind of did their own thing and it was pretty funny.

Q: What should fans expect from the “Cowboys” LP dropping later this year?

Stinson: (It’s) not all that different from anything I've really done except it’s a little more stripped down in some ways. But it's got all the barnacles and bruises of any other Tommy Stinson record.

Q: Once this tour is said and done, what’s next? Do you have any plans up your sleeve?

Stinson: I think I’m gonna ride this as long as I can and figure out the next thing when the next thing rears its head.

Tickets for Cowboys in the Campfire’s Ridgefield show can be purchased at Showgoers will receive the address of the performance via email once they’ve purchased their ticket.

The duo’s debut LP will be released later this year. For more information or additional tour dates, visit