DFWd Hype Project: Jake Robison “Blue and Trains”

So, Fort Worth has built up a fine community of songwriters who are always there to reach out and help each other and support each other at the various Open Mics and Songwriter Showcases around town. One of the guys in that community is a young man named Jake Robison. While he just plays music on the side of his full-time job, his debut record, Como Mansion, that dropped last year, is a record that really tugs at the heart strings. Today’s featured track is a lovely little song called “Blue and Trains” that makes me cry every damn time. Anyways, grab your tissues and enjoy. You can check out my Better Know An Artist interview with Jake here and go check out the full album here.

Advertisements

Better Know an Artist (Vol 21): Kevin Aldridge

Kevin Aldridge is a local rock-n-roller, who crafts songs with strong hooks and clever lyrics. His recent single, “Winner Leaves Town”, got the attention of a lot of local writers and fans. He’s continued to release quality singles leading up to his next album release, with the release of “El Juando” not too long ago, and this week’s release, “Faux Bluze”. Kevin sat down (or walked around, I don’t know) and answered the usual questions, so you know, find out about him, and check out some tunes or catch him live.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

KA: Every weekend, my mom would put on a stack of records while she cleaned the house. that was the beginning of it all for me.

In terms of working in music, I was broken into the business in 1992 by some friends in a band that needed a road manager and I figured that sounded waaaay more fun than college. So at 18, basically a young boy, I started lugging gear around the country, selling merch, driving a crappy van and haggling with club owners. You learn a lot about the non-glamorous side of the music business very quickly. I didn’t have a timeline. I figured I’d do the grunt work until I had the juice and gumption to start my own group. I just fell in love with everything about this thing and even though the business side of music brings out the absolute worst in people, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

KA: I tend to describe it in very simple terms. It’s rock and roll. Sometimes loud, sometimes not. No gimmicks needed. That’s very generic to a lot of people but it isn’t something I think about. Ever. Sub genres and classifications don’t interest me. For me, music is about creating things. I’m find with letting the papers & dirt sheets come up with how to describe it.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

KA: My mother’s stack of house cleaning records was headlined by acts like the Carpenters. Karen’s voice was really quite something and an early influence for me. REM is my favorite act of all time. I’m the biggest mark for those guys. I connect to their stuff like nothing else I’ve ever heard. Great craftsmen and workers. Their records are timeless to me. Ice Cube, Neil Young, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and the Jayhawks are all giants to me as well with the way they can turn a phrase.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

KA: “Layin’ Around” is probably the one that means the most to me. It’s about my dearly deserted dog, tag team partner & best friend, Trapper. He was a basset/bloodhound mix who lived for 14 years. The rhythm of the song is based on how he walks to I can’t help but think of him when we play it. I don’t think that will shock anyone.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

KA: Easy One. If I had the booking pencil, we’d open for REM on the Work Tour. That would be 87-88 when they were white hot!

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

KA: I’m a broken record when it comes to my favorite local bands. These aren’t new bands but Oil Boom is DFW’s bell cow for me. I love that band. Ryan Taylor is a treasure as a songwriter & guitar player. That’s an all time strong style trio for me. I dig Gollay so very much. I love the way they play together as a group. Serving the songs in an unselfish way. Daniel Markham is such a dude. Awesome, awesome songs! Same goes for Son of Stan. Amazing gift for songwriting, production & all good things in between. I could go on and on. There are so many good acts.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

KA: REM’s Life’s Rich Pageant at the moment (and most moments). Sometimes, it’s the Jayhawks’ Sound of Lies.

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

KA: Least favorite – nothing. You can’t dwell on that stuff. I’m not into shooting on people or burying anyone.

My favorite thing about the scene is the diversity and wealth of talent. It is bigger than ever and full of people who can go.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

KA: I love the Chat Room, Magnolia Motor Lounge & Lola’s but for different reasons.

The Chat Room. It’s always a home game there even though it’s smaller than a Philly bingo hall. Plus, Jon Carney is a top guy and like a brother to me. He always takes care of us at the Chat.

Solo shows at Magnolia are the best. Reminds me of playing Caravan of Dreams. People are generally engaged and into what’s being done on stage so you don’t have to do a bunch of high spots or have crazy theatrics to get their attention.

Lola’s is still the best place to take your loudest amp to play your loudest tunes. And now that the Trailer Park is up and running, there’s no telling what Forella and Co. have cooking for Lola’s.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

KA: I can put over an act that’s new-ish to me – Jake Robison. His record, Como Mansion, is really cool.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

KA: My resting heart rate is 56. That’s a shoot. I’m not joking.

Thanks so much to Kevin for taking the time. You can catch Kevin at Magnolia Motor Lodge this Saturday for the release of his latest single “Faux Bluze”. Show starts at 10:00 and he’s got Darth Vato and Jake Robison along for the ride.

Listen: “El Juando”

Listen: “Winner Leaves Town”

Photo credit: DFWNL.com

Better Know an Artist (Vol 15): Keegan McInroe

Keegan McInroe is a local Americana artist whose name I’ve heard buzzing around for years around these parts. His latest album, Uncouth Pilgrims, is drawing some critical praise and generating some nice buzz in the area, as it shows off his intricate and detailed songwriting skills. I reached out to Keegan to do the thing, and he said yes, so here we are.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

KM: I first got a guitar for my 17th birthday, so I was kind of late to the music thing. I’d written poetry before, so songwriting came natural enough. After high school and high school football, music became my outlet in college. I’d sneak off at parties and play in rooms where I’d find guitars and people would come in and listen. Enough drunk college friends told me I should be playing in a bar, so eventually I did.

It became a more feasible reality to me when I was studying my senior year in London (through the TCU London Center). I started playing this open mic night down the street from the student housing I was in, and the enthusiasm and compliments coming from total strangers from various places around the world kind of gave me the confidence that perhaps I could make a living playing music.

After I graduated, I was waiting tables when I left on a five week tour of the west coast with my former band, Catfish Whiskey. I had to quit my job before I left, so when I got back, I just decided I’d see if I couldn’t make a living playing music. That will be ten years ago in May. I’ve been eking out a living from my music ever since.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

KM: Texas Folk Blues is a typical response. Americana is another.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

KM: The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty album was the album that made me want to play music myself. Ben Harper and Jim Croce were both early influences, then Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, and Willie Nelson, particularly from a songwriting stand point, became major influences. Mississippi John Hurt and Townes Van Zandt are the two biggest influences on the finger-style playing I often employ these days in my solo stuff.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

KM: “Mozelle,” which is the title track from my first solo album.

The day my grandmother Mozelle died, I was living in Fort Worth. I got the news on a Wednesday morning, hopped in the car and headed to Levelland, TX, where she and my grandfather lived, just 30 miles west of where I grew up in Lubbock. Between that evening and the morning of her funeral, I wrote “Mozelle.”

The song is told from the perspective of my grandfather reflecting back on their life together after their death. It is essentially the song and event that kicked off my solo career. It also meant a great deal to my grandfather and my mother, which, of course, makes it that much more meaningful to me.

But I don’t play it anymore. The last time I played it was at my grandfather’s funeral in 2010.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

KM: Good question…ah, it’s a toss up between Willie Nelson and Tom Waits — but if I had to choose, it’d probably be Willie. I know we have some extracurricular activities in common that I can imagine would lead to great conversations. And I think it would probably be less intimidating than opening for Tom Waits. How do you open for Tom Waits?

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

KM: Sure. We’re blessed in Fort Worth and the area with an enormous amount of songwriting talent, so it’s hard to even begin without going on and on, but I’d say amongst my favorite locals are Vincent Neil Emerson, Kenny Uptain, Katie Robertson, Jacob Furr, Deanna Valone, Jake Robison, Jake Paleschic, Leon Bridges, Ginny Mac, Brandon Adams, Lindsay Hightower, and the Quaker City Nighthawks.

Overseas, I’d say Michele Bombatomica and the Dirty Orkestra out of Italy, Blackwell out of London, Moonshine Wagon out of Spain, and the Voltz Brothers out of Germany.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

KM: Hmmm…Grateful Dead’s American Beauty or Tom Waits’ Raindogs or Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks or Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger…do I have to pick…? If I have to pick right now, probably I’d pick Raindogs, but ask me tomorrow and that very well and probably would change.

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

KM: I can’t speak so much to Dallas, as I’ve not really spent so much time in that scene, but my favorite thing about the Fort Worth music scene is how inclusive it is. It doesn’t always translate to inclusiveness in the press or in the venues — it sometimes does — but certainly amongst the musicians is this great camaraderie and willingness to help each other out, support each other, play on each others’ records, play together live. It’s really lovely.

My least favorite thing is a little harder, because I really love the Fort Worth music scene. If I had to critique anything, I’d go back to what I kind of alluded to in what I liked: sometimes the inclusiveness amongst the musicians doesn’t translate into inclusiveness from the press, venues and booking agents. There’s a lot of amazing talent in this town that often goes unnoticed, unrecognized, but I don’t see it as a huge problem. When you have talent bursting at the seams of your scene, it’s gonna be hard to cover everyone and everything all the time.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

KM: I don’t have a favorite, per se, but one of my favorite places to play is Fred’s, the original location. I liked it better when it had dirt floors and a fire pit way back when and wasn’t as “West 7th Street”, but it’s still a great chill place to set up and just disappear for about three hours into your music. It doesn’t hurt that one is rewarded with one of the best hamburgers in town after.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

KM: I kind of touched on how hard it is to narrow this down in the above question, but Deanna Valone is someone I just recently had the pleasure of meeting and getting to hear. Ginny Mac is always top notch. If you haven’t seen a Quaker City Nighthawks show, you should probably hurry up and do that. And someone I didn’t mention above that I really enjoy is Luke McGlathery, who I understand is about to put out a new record.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

KM: I lived in a haunted/possessed house in Lubbock, TX from the age of four to the age of 11. Not sure how fun that was or is…but that’s the first thing that popped into my head, so there ya go.

A big shout out to Keegan McInroe for sitting down with us. Be sure to check out the new album, Uncouth Pilgrims below and catch the album release party at Lola’s on Feb 13. He’s also currently on residency at Fred’s (his favorite venue up there) with Jacob Furr and Stefan Prigmore on Wednesday nights this month, so you’ll have plenty of oppurtunities to go get some Keegan in your ears. Catch you next time, and keep supporting local music.

photo credit: Jeremy Hallock, Dallas Observer

Better Know an Artist (Vol 8): Jake Robison

Jake Robison is a talented songwriter from Fort Worth with a sound that screams Fort Worth. Mostly folk, but occasionally tripping into more traditional country music, his debut album, Como Mansion, released in December, is calm and lovely take on alt-country. Jake sat down and took the time to answer these questions that I didn’t take the time to come up with specifically for this interview.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

JR: I joined a couple of bands playing as a sideman for several years when I moved to Fort Worth after high school – that really helped me cut my teeth as a performing musician and singer..fun times. Somewhere around late 2012, after the last band I was in dismantled, I started writing and performing as a solo artist. With the support and encouragement of a lot of local musicians, I started growing little by little and finally cut an album of my own last year. I can’t say that I do this for a living as I work full time at a motorcycle dealership to support my family. I’m a father who writes songs in the spare bedroom about experiences I have had or have experienced through people I have met. My wife is extremely supportive and now that the record has released, I look forward to playing more live shows again, getting back out there, and taking it all day by day. I would love to somehow find a way to write music for other people or get involved with placing songs on television, movies, etc, along with performing live, so that I could always be close to home.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

JR: I never know how to answer that question, but I guess the standard reply is typically “folk” or “singer-songwriter” stuff.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

JR: I fell in love with music after hearing the Beatles, so they probably get credit for starting to listen to music differently than I did before that. My main influences though, would be John Prine, Jackson Browne, Ryan Adams, Wilco, and a ton more Americana/Singer-songwriter types – I really just love music that makes me feel something – and that is a pretty broad scope.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

JR: That is a hard question as I have emotional ties to a lot of my tunes and typically I love the most recent one that I ahve written. All in all though, I would probably say “Blue & Trains” as I wrote it about my wife when we were dating when I felt like I had finally found someone who understood me….and put up with my antics. When I sing that song live, I tend to connect more frequently than with other tunes.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

JR: 100%, it would be John Prine. I would love to have the opportunity to hang out with him and my father would be even more excited as he showed me a lot about writing through Prine’s albums as a kid…even if I didn’t understand what he was showing me at the time.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

JR: I don’t know how “new” all of them are but there are tons of local guys and gals from Fort Worth who are amazing musicians and writers. It’s crazy to me how much talent is right here in town and from neighboring cities. Jacob Furr and I have become good friends in recent years and I love what he does. Thomas Flynn is one of my favorite writers and was one of the original people who encouraged me to take a stab at serious songwriting – he is busy behind soundboards a lot these days, but when he performs, it’s greatness. I know I will miss people  and regret it later so I hate to even attempt to make a list of everyone – they all know who they are as I try my best to support them anytime I can by going to their shows or reaching out to let them know I dig what they are doing.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

JR: This is almost impossible to answer, but if I must, I’d say the white album [Beatles]. I’ve love that record since I was a kid.

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

JR: I don’t think I have a least favorite thing – from the music venues to the musicians, everyone is extremely supportive of each other – I love it.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

JR: My heart lives at Magnolia Motor Lounge – they have supported me since day one, the sound is always great, the staff is awesome, and you can typically find musical gold there seven days a week. That being said, I really think all the music venues are very supportive and offer a great place to perform and listen.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

JR: I recently discovered Garrett Owen and was blown away – super nice guy as well. Taylor Tatsch turned me onto him as he recorded his record at Taylor’s studio after I did — I’ve heard it…and when it releases, I expect great things for him. He has mastered his craft as a player and performer and it’s awesome to see live — go see him next time you can.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

JR: Some people in Fort Worth remember me as a comedy musician. I did a duo thing for a while with a buddy at comedy clubs and such and then after that I played a lot of open mics around Fort Worth because I loved being on stage and making people laugh. I even took a stab at stand-up comedy for a bit. Every once in a while, someone will request a “funny song” at a show, but I typically decline…those usually only come out at late night jams with friends…which probably means I’ve stayed up a bit too late.

Shout out to Jake Robison for wasting time with me. Everybody should go check out his record, Como Mansion, which I’ve conveniently attached below. It’s pretty great. Also, get out and catch Jake at a show in support of the album. He’ll be performing at Magnolia Motor Lounge for their Holiday Hangover Recovery event on New Year’s Day.