by: Clay Fuchs
The first time I saw Charlie Robison in concert, I was at the Corona Club in Acuna, Mexico. From what I can vaguely remember between the sweaty May taxi ride across the border to waking up in a dirty Mexican hotel room was my first experience of a true Texas country concert.
I was a freshman in college attending Angelo State University working at a hardware store when a buddy I had a class with texted me saying they were piling into a car and driving down to Mexico to see Robison and if I wanted to go, I needed to be at his house in an hour. What did I do? I was suddenly “overcome with a deathly illness” and had to leave work. I went home, casually dodging my parents to pack a change of clothes and toothbrush, and was then out the door.
Had I known the look on my parent’s faces when I walked in the door the next afternoon, sweaty, dirty, and suffering from the worst hangover I had come across at that point in my life, I may have rethought the whole experience. Yet, I was a freshman in college, still new to the world without a care for consequences, so piling into that pickup and booze cruising down to Mexico was a non-issue for me.
The stage was set on the back patio of the bar, complete with two bars, various kinds of plastic lawn furniture and all the Corona’s you could drink being brought out in buckets. I didn’t know any of the songs and I don’t think a lot of the crowd did either, but by the end of my second bucket I decided there was something about this guy. He played a high energy show while also pausing between songs to tell a little story about himself or the song that made it that much more interesting. To this day, I still have him to thank for that spark that peaked my interest in the music scene that now seems to consume my iPod.
Today, though now I am aware of consequences and have grown wiser, Robison still seems to be the same guy who decided to venture across the border to play a show in a Mexican bar.
We caught up with Robison, who is playing at The Blue Light this Saturday, April 28, to catch up with what he’s done and where he’s going. Like Charlie Robison on Facebook here and follow him on Twitter here.
New Slang: What have you been up to lately? Have you been doing any writing or any recording?
Charlie Robison: We’re about halfway done with a new record right now.
NS: Do you have any idea when it’s going to be coming out?
CR: I would say late summer or early fall. Something like that.
NS: What would you say it’s going to be like compared to some of your past music? Where is the evolution with it?
CR: You know, there’s always an evolution. I mean, there’s still some of the old sound in there, but the evolution is still there. You know, there’s always that thread that keeps you where you came from in a song and makes you who you are, but you gotta keep moving.
NS: Speaking of where you came from, your brother Bruce, your sister Robin are all in the music business. How did you all start playing music, where did the inspiration come from?
CR: You know, none of us really have any idea. To be honest, we were always just huge fans of music. No one in our family really played. We had played in a band together in junior high and high school, but it was always kind of for fun. But, after we both were finished playing college athletics, I joined a band in Austin and he followed me and did the same thing. It was never anything like a lifetime dream or anything like that it just turned into that somehow it was a weird deal.
NS: I gotta ask then, what are the family reunions like; is there a lot of music playing or anything like that?
CR: No, not really; it’s really just the opposite. We’ll talk about where we played the night before and things like that, but we’re mainly talking about the kids and what they’re doing. You’d think there would be a lot of music playing, but its pretty boring honestly.
NS: I’ve seen you’ve toured all over the country in the past. You’ve spent a lot of time in Nashville and things like that. But recently I’ve seen you’ve been touring a lot in Texas, what brings you back here?
CR: When your affiliated in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, Louisiana you know the best recorder we have is based around there. When you’re a singer, it’s really easy to tour one state, but when it’s that big you can cover a lot of ground. Just to be honest ,you know, it’s hard to go out and tour when you don’t have a new record out. We always go tour everywhere when our new record comes out. But when you’re two or three years off of a new project, it’s hard to get out there. Even our biggest fans are like that. you know? So, we usually save a big tour until out record comes out.
NS: What would you say is the difference between a Texas crowd compared to other states? What makes you love playing in Texas?
CR: You know, there used to be a big cavern between those two, but now it’s not so much anymore because the music has been around and has a foothold now. So I mean people in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and places like that are getting it the same way Texas people are, which is really cool. I always love playing Texas the best though, but it’s really great to see how people are catching on to our music everywhere else.
NS: What are some of the memories you have of travelling to Lubbock and playing shows here?
CR: Oh god… Driving up there in a station wagon with no air conditioning and people don’t know why you’re at the gas pump just splashing water on the roof because it was so hot. It was just drive up there and play a show for 200 bucks in August. I can definitely remember those shows. They were definitely some great ones. You know, you always remember the ones that kinda got you there. I definitely remember that one.
NS: The Blue Light’s been a staple of Lubbock for many years, and you know my final question would have to be what do you like playing at such a historic location?
CR: You know, I think it’s that the audience is so much more appreciative than the bigger places. It’s such a blast playing there when we sell that place out and everyone’s piled in there on top of each other. There’s real music fans there compared to those people who just come in for ladies night or whatever. They are all just real music fans; they’re definitely the real deal.
NS: Excellent thank you so much for your time Charlie and I look forward to seeing ya out there.