Guitarist Mark Robinson Finds Quitting His Job A Smart Move
It’s always fun to interview a musician whose star is on the rise. Even more fun when the artist is an outstanding guitar player with blues in the veins, jazz in the head, and soul in the heart. Even more fun yet when the artist’s backstory is rich, diverse, and truly exemplifies the realization of a lifelong dream despite decades of hard work and disappointment.
But the fun factor pegs the meter when the man is an old and dear friend. So readers will forgive me if I take an unusually high level of satisfaction in presenting my buddy Mark Robinson, the most recent addition to Blue Boulevard Records roster of artists. The label, with a luminous catalog including classic blues re-issues from such seminal artists as Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Solomon Burke, and Howlin’ Wolf, and acts representing the new wave of blues and blues-rock such as Delta Moon and Alvin Jett & The Phat Noiz Blues Band, makes Robinson’s recent deal about as auspicious as it gets.
- Go ahead… stream some original Mark Robinson music while you finish reading the article:
- And scroll down to the end of the article for a video of Mark and company performing Runaway Train.
Mark Robinson’s success had humble antecedents, of course, to which I can attest, as for a few years our musical paths crossed. Back in the late 70s, Mark and I both worked at a local music store here in Bloomington, Indiana, a funky, well-loved hole-in-the-wall with absolutely decrepit carpeting and an extremely battered workbench called The Guitar Gallery. The classiest thing about the shop was a large print of Picasso’s Old Guitarist hanging on the wall. For all its street grit and beat decor, during its existence on Bloomington’s main drag for downtown shopping, Kirkwood Avenue, the store was widely known as the shop of choice for all the pro and semi-pro players in town.
A veritable Who’s Who of local talent walked through the door every day — buying, selling and trading — and the poorly-insulated booths in the back of the store were occupied at all hours by teachers of various string instruments supplementing their gigs with a steadier (and often more lucrative) music-related source of income. As music shops go, The Guitar Gallery may have been low-rent and dingy, but the musical spirit of the place was a shining beacon to every guitar player in the region. Business was typically pretty damn good.
Mark and I met at the store as teachers, and soon grew to know and respect one another as friends and musical colleagues — hanging out, shooting the bull, jamming between students, walking three doors down to The Pizzaria to talk guitars over strombolis and beers, the usual thing. Back in those days, Mark and I were two of Bloomington’s busiest hired guns, often finding ourselves subbing for one another in various local bands and working with well-known Hoosier singer-songwriters such as Bill Wilson, Tom Roznowski, Randy Handley and others.
As times and individual fortunes evolved, our paths diverged. Over thirty years went by and Mark and I fell totally out of touch, both of us leaving town for adventures elsewhere. I was gone for 16 years, but eventually returned to the musical mecca that is Bloomington, Indiana. As I reconnected with old friends who had the good sense to never leave this town, I learned that Mark had gone insane and moved away in hopes of finding success in that god-awful, soul-destroying machine they euphemistically call “the music business” (and in Nashville, Tennessee of all places). I lamented the delusions under which my old friend was obviously suffering, and was prepared to have to attend services for the man any day. He should have known better, I thought.
Oh, but it was I who should have known better. Had I, I would have known that Mark had diversified his musical portfolio considerably — had gone from being a professional go-to guitar slinger to fronting the band, unleashing a dark, gravelly voice no one back in the old days even knew he had, and setting out to be not just a gifted interpreter of tunes, but one of those folks actually putting pen to page and making up tunes of his own.
The story of Mark Robinson’s journey from sideman to headliner is an inspiring one. It’s the age-old story one never gets tired of hearing, replete with discouragement eaten for breakfast, dreams dashed but never forsaken (or if forsaken recovered, rejuvenated and redeemed for hard currency), and determination to just go for it, by God, no matter the odds against success. It’s a story about believing in yourself and the talents with which you were born, and making the necessary sacrifices to make your dream come true. Even if that means quitting your job to play guitar for a living.
Which not so subtly brings us to the self-produced CD Mark released last year, Quit Your Job – Play Guitar… a homemade CD which would not just put his name on the map as an musician, but would propel him on a face-paced road to becoming a recognized and respected roots artist, signed to one of the world’s premiere blues recording labels. Since the release of his aptly-titled CD, my old drinking buddy has been gaining some serious traction, and it makes me smile to see him punch his way through a labyrinthine business widely known for being virtually impenetrable.
In September of 2010 (long before the record deal was inked), Mark returned to his spawning ground here in Bloomington for a CD Release Party at the town’s most committed music club (offering live music 7 nights a week), The Player’s Pub. I was in attendance, along with a slew of Mark’s old friends and many of Bloomington’s musical illuminatti, past and present.
Mark Robinson and The Nashville All-Stars, his band of ace Nashville-based musicians (including Paul Griffith on drums, Daniel Seymour on bass, Brian Langlinais on guitar and vocals, and the uber-talented Randy Handley on keys and vocals, joined by local area backup singers Bobbie Lancaster and Janas Hoyt) put on a sweltering show, ranging from pure straight-ahead 12-bar blues to funky rock to jazzy Louisiana-style improvs and most everything in between. If it was roots-based and electrified, Mark and his cohorts set it on the stove, covered it, let it simmer, poured on the hot sauce and served it up with an ice-cold beer.
Not one to forget his old buds, Mark was later joined onstage by his former Bloomington bandmates (Rex Miller on drums/vocals and Steve Mascari on bass/vocals) for a rousing set gleaned from their Kookamongas songlists of old. Mark was in high spirits and fine form, comfortably coaxing some rather high-end jazz licks out of his G&L ASAT — twisty, atonal yet melodic chops that I didn’t recall him having in the old days. Clearly the man hasn’t been resting on his laurels, nor simply recycling the tried and true pentatonic riffs common to the blues vocabulary, but had continued to evolve his playing with some serious woodshedding over the years. As a guitar player, he had me grinning from ear to ear. It was a glorious night, not just for Mark, but for every Bloomingtonian there. Hometown boy makes good, indeed.
After Mark’s show, and all the back-slapping and ‘atta-boys’ had been delivered, I pulled him aside and told him I’d like to do an interview with him for StringDancer. He graciously accepted the offer, and in the ensuing weeks we discussed in a private Facebook message how we wanted to do the piece. But it was news of his recent signing to Blue Boulevard that finally got me off the stump, figuring I’d best make hay before Mark’s tractor left the farm. So we began messaging back and forth in earnest, me asking questions and Mark responding. What follows is a direct transcription of our Facebook discussion.
StringDancer Interview With Mark Robinson
Jeff Foster November 11 at 11:14am
So Mark… as someone who has known you for decades, I recall you being mostly a hired gun in the old days, one of the go-to guys here in Bloomington when a bluesy electric guitar player was needed. But at some point you decided to become a singer-songwriter as well, and it seems your star has been rising ever since. When did this happen, and what was it that inspired you to move from the sideline to the spotlight fronting your own band?
Mark Robinson November 11 at 12:05pm
Hey Jeff, OK here goes… I am sleep deprived and rambling, but I don’t want to put this off.
When I moved to Nashville and started playing guitar here in 2004, I ended up working with several really great songwriters (Davis Raines, Randy Handley, Mike Cullison among others). I had worked with some fantastic songwriters before — like our old friends Bill Wilson and Tom Roznowski . But in Nashville there was an expectation that a traveling guitar player would contribute to songs, would co-write with the artists they play with. So I was soon writing songs with all these cool songwriters.
In Nashville there are tons of songwriters gigs — rounds, showcases, mini-sets. I ended up accompanying artists at these gigs. Frequently, if you are on stage at one of these gigs– they just turn to you and say “your turn, sing one”. So I started singing my own songs once in a while.
At some point I realized that the best way to understand songs is to play a whole lot of them — which I had been doing my whole life. And the other way to get better at writing songs is to write a lot of songs. Which I have been doing for several years now. But I admit that I throw a lot of them away.
So I’m in Nashville, playing guitar, writing songs and producing CDs for artists in my home studio. At some point last year I realized I had enough good songs to record, I had a studio to record them in, and I was working with an amazing bunch of musicians that I could call upon to record with me. Time to make a record (I still call them records…)
While I am still working hard at being a better player, produce and songwriter — I am really concentrating on being a better singer and performer. I didn’t sing at all until I was in my later 20′s, and I’ve never really been the lead singer in a band. So I’m working pretty hard at it.
Producing other artists made me realize that some singers/performers can connect with an audience live — and if they can do that, they can do it with a recording. So I am working on finding that connection with an audience, in live performance and in the studio.
I have been surprised by the reception the CD has gotten by the media and radio stations. I wasn’t sure that this CD would be considered a “blues” CD, but the blues world has embraced it. The positive feedback on the CD has given me reasons to try and book myself and continue to learn to be a compelling performer.
So I continue to write, work as a sideman, produce, teach, and front a band — trying to move forward as a musician and an artist.
Jeff Foster November 11 at 12:49pm
Excellent, Mark. We’re on a roll.
Next question: The title of your recent album (I still call them albums… we’re showing our age here ‘Quit Your Job, Play Guitar’, pretty succinctly sums up your path to Nashville. You had a secure “monkey job”, as you call it, and was living what would be called a good, responsible life. Yet you were dissatisfied with things and wanted to go for broke in the music business while you were still young enough to take it on, which to many people would seem a risky choice.
Give us a snapshot of your process — what was going through your mind as you came to the decision to put your music first, and what was it that gave you the confidence to go ahead with your plan in spite of the risks?
Mark Robinson November 11 at 2:00pm
I was really ready for a change from my “monkey job”. It had been unsatisfying for a long time. The decision to move to Nashville was made for me when my wife Sue was offered a job at Vanderbilt University.
I didn’t know a lot about Nashville, but I knew the best musicians in the world are here. I wanted to be a part of it somehow. I didn’t know how much work there would be for a guy who plays the way I play. I’m pretty versatile in roots music styles, but not well versed in pop music or modern country-pop. But Nashville is pretty diverse, and there are so many artists and songwriters working in all kinds of genres and styles. I soon found out that producers and artists don’t care about guitar chops, they want someone who knows how to play what the song calls for. I think I was pretty good at that when I moved here, and I have gotten better at it working with a lot of talented people here in Music City.
I guess the catalyst for jumping into music with both feet was a serious health problem that I had soon after arriving in Nashville. It made me realize that I didn’t have unlimited time to do the important things, and that I had an opportunity that most players would never have — I was living in Nashville TN. So I started going out and listening to music and meeting people and trying to get playing. I heard such great music and such fantastic musicians, singers and songs. I knew quickly that I was going to give it everything I had and try to be a full time guitar player in Nashville.
And lest your readers get the wrong idea, I’m not getting rich. I teach guitar lessons 3 days a week, as well as band workshops. I teach music theory at a small college. I produce demos and CDs for unknown artists. I play gigs in town and around the country. It is not an easy way to make a living, no matter how good you are. And there are more great guitar players in Nashville than in the rest of world combined, so the competition is rough for every gig. But I have found the music community in Nashville to be very welcoming and friendly.
I’m glad I took the leap, it has been incredibly rewarding and I have worked with so many amazing musicians, singers and writers. And while I don’t want people to take the title of my CD as career advice, it has worked out very well for me, so far.
But it’s not easy, so I just do the best I can at it everyday. I hope I can keep doing it for a long time.
Jeff Foster November 11 at 2:41pm
You mention your wife, Sue, and the role she played in your move to Nashville. Knowing Sue and the long history you share, I know there’s much more than just her job at Vanderbilt that contributes to the success you’re enjoying these days. A spouse’s support and encouragement is really fundamental to both a successful career in music and a successful relationship. Care to share a few thoughts and experiences of this often overlooked dynamic?
Mark Robinson November 11 at 3:04pm
Sue Havlish is not only the best thing that ever happened to me, but the best thing about knowing me is knowing Sue.
In our case, Sue is an equal partner in my musical ventures. She moved to Nashville 9 months before I did, and her job involves working with the Country Music Hall of Fame. And Sue is a big fan of all kinds of music. She knows more about music than most musicians. So she had Nashville figured out and knew all kinds of folks in the music business before I even got here.
I don’t know if I would have had the courage to jump off the cliff and try music full time without Sue’s full support. Her belief in me was probably the real deciding factor in me giving it a shot.
There is a lot more to our partnership than this. Sue has worked in marketing and promotion in the publishing industry for many years. She is a fantastic organizer, a great researcher and has all of the skills to put together a marketing and publicity campaign for anything. The music business is a lot like the publishing business. So she has been a partner in my CD from the beginning. I joked about using the title “Quit Your Job – Play Guitar” and she said, “that’s it, that’s the title. It will make people curious, it will make them want to hear it.” She was involved in picking the songs I put on the CD, she hired the designer for the CD package, and she did all of the marketing and promotion.
I could have made this CD without her — and it would have sounded as good as it does. But it wouldn’t have looked nearly as good, and it wouldn’t have gotten any attention from the media or the radio. I wouldn’t know where to begin, trying to get my CD out to the world. I would have sent it out to the few media and radio people I know and that would have been it. Sue has gotten me airplay all over the world, and reviews in most of the major blues and roots publications. I’ve gotten signed to a record label due to the exposure I got from her marketing campaign.
Because of Sue’s skill and hard work, this CD is the start of a career, not just a footnote on an artist. I predict that Sue will be a bigger star in the music world than I could ever be.
Jeff Foster November 11 at 3:32pm
So tell us the story of your recent recording contract. How did that come about, any interesting/juicy sidebar observations of the contract process you’d like to share, etc.
Mark Robinson November 13 at 8:57pm
I got an email from Alfie Falckenbach, the head of Blue Boulevard Records in Belgium. It came out of the blue, so to speak. I have my songs up on a couple of websites that allow radio stations to download your songs for airplay. One of those sites is Radio Submit. Radio Submit sent out a “picks of the week” email and I was a pick. Alfie got the email, went to the site and listened to my CD. He liked it and emailed me with an offer of a record contract. A solid offer for the CD, just as it is, no changes to it.
I looked up the record company, and it’s real, and it has a good, long history and some fine artists and CDs. Not knowing much about record contracts, I asked a friend and guitar student of mine, who is in the music business, to take a look at the contract. He looked it over and had a few comments — but he suggested that I have his lawyer look it over. His lawyer is a Nashville music business lawyer, who would normally charge me several hundred dollars to look at the contract. My friend suggested that I trade him an hour long lesson for a phone conference with his lawyer. Only in Nashville — I traded a guitar lesson for a legal consultation.
It turned out the contract looked good, and I signed it. The CD will be released in Europe in February, and in the US in March. I’m really pleased with the deal, and I am starting work on the next CD already.
Jeff Foster November 15 at 3:31pm
How about a little gear talk? Tell us about the home studio where you recorded your CD, and the instruments, amps and whatnot in your arsenal these days. And what’s up with the Mark Robinson Signature Slide?
Mark Robinson November 15 at 8:05pm
I recorded the CD in my home studio in my basement (Guido’s Studio South) with the help of my friend Jim Burnett engineering. Jim has been in Nashville a lot of years, but we met studying audio at IU in the 70′s.
I tracked the CD to an Alesis hard drive recorder– the HD24. I can record up to 24 tracks simultaneously on it, so it’s good for tracking live. We tracked bass, drums, rhythm guitar and scratch vocals live– everything in one room except the guitar amp. We overdubbed guitars, percussion, horns, vocals, backup vocals and keyboards. Everything was done in my studio except the B-3 organ, which I recorded at Johnny Neel’s studio. He has his B-3 all set up and uses the same hard drive recorder I use, so it was easy.
After all of the songs were recorded I bounced them into Protools and mixed “in the box”. It was my first real Protools project — so it took longer than I had hoped, while I was learning how to mix in Protools.
During the mixing of the CD, the Nashville flood hit, and my basement got flooded. So I moved everything upstairs, set it up, and kept mixing. Most of the CD was mixed in my dining room.
I have a fairly inexpensive collection of microphones and preamps, so I borrowed a few while we were recording, but most of the CD is pretty low tech. I had Bloomington audio guru Paul Mahern master the CD. He has golden ears, and great gear — he made it sound great!
Guitars — I’ve been playing an old G&L ASAT, which is their version of the Telecaster. The old one with the soap-bar pickups which are *not* P-90s, but they look like them. I used the ASAT a lot on the CD. I also played my Ron Volbrecht Stratocaster. It’s a guitar Ron built for me many years ago, and it is a great guitar. I also played my old Gibson Melody Maker, my Regal square neck dobro, my Larrivee OM-09 acoustic guitar, and my beat up Harmony tenor banjo. Oh yeah–I have a crazy electric dobro, a Galveston. It’s the thickness of a 335 and the size of a jumbo acoustic. It has a big old resonator plate on it, and a P-90 pickup.
Amps — Mostly I use an old 80′s Fender Concert, which is a 40 watt amp with one 12 inch speaker. Mine is stock. I also used an old 70′s Princeton and an ancient Ampeg Reverb Rocket. I have no idea how old it is, and it needs to be refurbished — but I love the sound.
Pedals — Tube Screamer, Boss Tremelo, Vox Wah, and a weird old Ibanez delay pedal.
Slides – I mostly play slide in standard tuning, but I do play in open G and open E a lot as well. I had been using a glass bottle neck for years (real wine bottle necks). But a couple of years ago a friend of mine gave me some Rocky Mountain Slides. They are made from clay, glazed and kiln fired. They are hand made by Doc Sigmier. I love the sound of them– they aren’t harsh like metal or ceramic, but they have a bit more bite than glass. Doc and I worked on the exact size and thickness, as well as the glaze I wanted on my slides. During the process, I have introduced a lot of pro players to RMS slides. Doc decided that the slide model I wanted would be a popular choice for players, and he is going to make it the Mark Robinson Signature Slide.
Jeff Foster November 15 at 11:17pm
And I also read where you’re planning your follow-up CD. What can you tell us about that?
Mark Robinson November 16 at 3:09pm
Well, I just found out I would be doing another CD for Blues Boulevard a few weeks ago, so I am just now getting a concept of what I want to do. Right now I am looking into doing a live performance recording. I’m looking for the right recording engineer and venue to make this work. I think it will be another self-produced effort.
I like the idea of a live recording, as it will be easy to perform the songs on tour. With a European tour in the works after that CD, I’ll probably need to travel light. If my recording band is small — 3 or 4 piece, I can easily duplicate the sound of it on tour.
It’s still in the planning stages, but I think I know how to make it work.
Jeff Foster November 16 at 4:17pm
Lastly, as I’ve mentioned earlier on in this article, you and I have known each other for over 30 years, and as such I find myself reveling in your success since the release of QYJPG. Your rise seems to fly in the face of almost every stereotype we have about breaking through in the music business — that you have to be young and pretty (no offense), that you have to use a top-flight studio and a big-name producer to garner any attention for your CD, that you need to spend huge sums of money on publicists, agents, managers, promoters… that you can’t get the job done with just a belief in yourself and the support of friends and family. And yet here you are, a year or so after the release of what could be described as a seminal, self-produced, self-promoted CD of unapologetic blues, some covered and some original, with an oddly amusing title, now signed to a well-respected record label with a career ascending brilliantly, all because you had a little faith in yourself and took the long view, backed with hard work and unflagging commitment. What do you have to say about that, brother?
Mark Robinson November 16 at 11.13pm
No offense taken.
I guess one of the really surprising factors in me deciding to go after my dream of being a full time musician in Nashville is my age. In Nashville, there are a lot of older players, writers, and artists. So there is no difficulty in working in Nashville if you are over 20 or over 40. But I came to Nashville as a mature player, with a lot of years and a lot of styles in my trick bag. There are a lot of guys with incredible chops and fast fingers who play the same things over and over again. That gets old pretty quickly.
And with age comes patience. As a young man, I would probably have come to Nashville and left after a year or two if nothing big had happened for me. Hundreds of guys do this every year. But I saw pretty quickly that it would take time to get any kind of reputation in music city. It’s about paying your dues — if there is another player of equal ability up for the same gig as you, and he has been in town a lot longer, he’ll probably get the gig. He’s done his time, more people know him, and he’s more likely to be around next year.
One of the advantages of having played thousands of gigs with different people over the years, I have become fairly fearless. If somebody asks me to play a gig with no rehearsal, no preparation at all — I’ll do it. You get good at flying blind by doing it a lot. And I have done it.
I also began to believe that I was good enough to play with the Nashville cats. I kept getting hired and playing with some serious heavy players, so it was obvious that I was being counted among the real players.
Another factor for me is how I judge success. If I am writing good songs, playing with good players, doing good work in the studio — and enjoying it — then that is success to me. If your criteria revolves around playing in a big hit-making band and having huge international acclaim — well, you are most likely to be a failure. I think my goals and my measure of my own success have been pretty realistic. If I can keep playing, teaching, writing, performing and recording and paying the bills each month, then I’m doing what I want to do, and what makes me happy. So that’s my plan. I quit my job to play guitar, and so far it’s going pretty well.
Jeff Foster November 17 at 2:19am
Mark, many thanks for taking time to chat with me about all the exciting things happening in your life and career these days. I’ve seen first-hand the love and devotion you have for music and playing your guitar for folks, and the success you’re enjoying couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, bro. I’m proud of ya, dude!
Mark Robinson November 17 at 1:11pm
Thanks for doing this, Jeff. I appreciate being a part of the StringDancer community. BTW: Off in the distance, I would like to work on some kind of a guitar workshop with you. Not sure what, when or how — but it seems like something we could and should do.
Jeff Foster November 17 at 1:24pm
Absolutely Mark, it would be big fun to spank planks with you again and do a little teaching in the process. Have your people get with my people.
Mark Robinson November 17 at 1:37pm
Jeff — it hurts my brain to think about when we played together last. I think it had to be in the late 70′s or early 80′s. That is way too long. Given that we are both still performing, we need to do some playing on stage together soon. And given that we are both still teaching, we need to do some kind of guitar workshop in the near future. My ties to Bloomington Indiana are still very strong — my family is still there, and many, many friends. So I do visit frequently. Let’s figure out how we can play some music and do some teaching in 2011. Thanks!!
- Mark’s Facebook Page
- Some photos courtesy of Rich Vorhees
- Blues Report article on Mark
Reviews of Quit Your Job – Play Guitar
“Excellent debut … a nuanced mix of blues, soul, and twangy roots-rock in its grooves. … serpentine guitar play … Expect big things in the future from this ‘self-employed’ singer/songwriter.” —Rev. Keith A. Gordon, BLUES REVUE
“The strong point of this CD is Robinson’s versatile guitar playing, which drives his thoughtful and passionate songwriting and tough vocal style. … He wields a nasty slide along the way … It’s a tasty first effort … with plenty of style and sass.”
—Jim White, BLUE NOTES, (Pittsburgh) Post-Gazette.com
“An outstanding new album … very special and very cool. Mark Robinson simply ROCKS.” —Robert Bartosh, ROOTS MUSIC REPORT
“Top quality blues guitar … This white boy sure can play the Blues, and not just Chicago Blues, but Country Blues, Juke-joint Blues, and my very own favourite, Rhythm and Blues.” —MAVERICK
“The career advice in the title applies nicely in [Robinson's] case, thanks to his ability as a songwriter, vocalist and particularly as a guitarist — lap steel, dobro, you name it.” —Jeff Johnson, SPIN CONTROL, Chicago Sun-Times
“ … scorching guitar work … Just give him a guitar, give him The Blues, give him a lyric he believes in, and Mark Robinson can bring it with the best of them.” —Janet Goodman, MUSIC NEWS NASHVILLE
“Roots-based blues, Americana, rock … all Mark Robinson. His musical soul is poured out on the Memphis-inspired balled ‘Try One More Time,’ with Johnny Neel on the B-3 and great backup vocals by Vickie Carrico and Tracy Nelson. … This CD is for blues lovers everywhere.” —NASHVILLE MUSIC GUIDE
“’Back in the Saddle’ [is] close to the best Stones, Bob Seger work … ‘Backup Plan’ [has] a great New Orleans groove. … ‘I Know You’ll Be Mine’ [is] a great example of juke joint, groove blues … This CD turns the roots-based blues, Americana, rock landscape into an undertaking not to be missed.” — ROOTSVILLE
“Hard-hitting, emotionally charged music that strikes the heart. Well written originals and well chosen covers—immaculately played, well orchestrate … melds blues, rock, soul, country and more for a sound that is fresh as a spring breeze.” —Bill Wilson, BILLTOWN BLUE NOTES
“Mark Robinson has himself one hell of a debut disc here and if it should be heard by the right ears, he could possibly have himself a ‘Best New Artist Debut’ nomination come the 2011 Blues Music Awards.”
—Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro, Blues Editor, MARY4MUSIC.COM
“Mark Robinson … isn’t looking back … his music spans a much broader spectrum of music than just the Blues or the music that Nashville is traditionally known for. This musician and songwriter is most definitely not a ‘one trick pony.’ ”
—Ken Utterback, NASHVILLE MUSIC EXAMINER
“Robinson rambles, strums, picks and packs Blues, Americana, Soul, Zydeco, Roots and Rock into his songs … the man is a natural guitarist, his playing an extension of his soul. … Vocally, his gruff growl brings the blues to all it touches … Throw out the alarm clock and start tuning.” —THE ALTERNATE ROOT
“Beautiful guitar solos …[The CD is] full of great songs …” —ROOTSTIME
“Robinson is a master on the guitar … a great debut release … the world should be happy that Robinson has not only decided to make music but write some songs and give us a great record to listen to.” —BROKEN JUKEBOX
“A gem of an album … really fine Guitarist, Writer, and Vocalist …Highly recommended, thoroughly enjoyed.” —John Vermilyea, BLUES UNDERGROUND NETWORK
“A soulful tour of American roots music’s hot spots … Mark’s erudite guitar … narrates the journey.”—TED DROZDOWSKI, Guitarist, Songwriter, “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award-Winning Journalist
“A talented and versatile sideman … walks out of the shadows and into the spotlight as a leader … It’s evident that Mark belongs in that spotlight.” —TAD ROBINSON, 5-Time Blues Music Award Nominee, Severn Records Recording Artist
“This aptly titled solo debut release of guitar player/songwriter Mark Robinson proves it’s never too late to follow your dreams—a soulful collection of roots/blues.” —KAREN LEIPZIGER, KL Productions, “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award-Winning Publicist
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