The Smothers Theatre (Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts) at Pepperdine in Malibu, CA opened its doors for the first time after being renovated on Sept. 22 for a very special evening with Jimmy Webb and Ashley Campbell. Jimmy Webb is easily one of the greatest songwriters of the past 5+ decades having written hits for the Fifth Dimension, Glen Campbell, Johnny Rivers and many more. Ashley Campbell is the daughter of music legend Glen Campbell who passed away last year on Aug. after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease seven years earlier.
Campbell, a Pepperdine alumni herself, opened the show with a solo acoustic set. Campbell became a member of her father’s band on his farewell tour playing guitar and banjo as well providing backing vocals. Campbell’s first song was “Nothing Day,” from her latest album The Lonely One. Campbell went on to tell the story of how she picked up the banjo during a theatre production at Pepperdine and became a pro at it. Campbell played a 30-minute set consisting of five songs and ended with “Remembering,” which was featured in I’ll Be Me, the documentary that covered her father’s final tour and battle with Alzheimer's. Like her father, Campbell has amazing guitar skills, great song-writing ability and a wonderful voice to top it off.
Webb is best known as a composer and arranger but seeing him perform live was a real honor. Webb performed solo piano until being joined by his son Jamie for a song and later by Ashley Campbell. Webb made several jokes during his set but started with saying “The singing part of the show has ended, I guess you’ll just drag your feet now.” Webb did a great job singing the hits he wrote. The first song he performed was none another major hit he wrote for Glen Campbell, “Galveston.” After the song ended he sang Glen’s version to show he changed it from the way Webb intended it to sound.
Not only was Glen Campbell’s music a big part of the show, but also stories about him. Webb told the audience that Glen was a big fan of comedian Roger Miller’s and shared some of his favorite jokes. The second song of the set was “Up, Up, Up and Away,” which won the 5th dimension six Grammys in 1968. Webb ended it with the high note. Webb also played songs he wrote for Johnny Rivers and Harry Nilsson. Halfway through his set, Webb’s son Jamie joined in. Webb played another Campbell hit “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” before inviting Ashley to come out. Webb performed “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” without Campbell since she didn’t come out. After the song she joked about how it was the song the band took a bathroom break on since her father performed it as a duet with the pianist each night so that’s why she missed it. Campbell performed the last four songs with Webb.
Before “Wichita Lineman,” Webb told the story of how Campbell would call him and say things like “Could You Make It More Geographical,” and asked when it was finished. Following “Wichita Lineman,” Campbell and Webb performed “Adios” the title track from Campbell’s final studio album. The closing song of the show was “MacArthur Park,” which included a story about Waylon Jennings recording it. Campbell played banjo on it which was the first time to have the instrument played and featured on that song. Webb has dates booked through mid-November.