Tabernash / Grand Foundation Fundraiser: Musical truth found in everyday details
March 14, 2008
While touring Colorado, modern soul/blues harmonica virtuoso Tad Robinson stops by Devil’s Thumb Broad Axe Barn to put on his first-ever local concert. The show will be a fundraiser for the Grand Foundation.
Growing up in New York City in the 1960s, Robinson listened to the radio and was moved to hear all the great voices spilling out ” musicians like Ray Charles, the Beatles, Bobby Darin, Wilson Pickett, the Temptations and the Supremes.
“I knew then and there, even as a youngster, that I was going to be a singer,” he said. “I never gave it a second thought.”
His journey toward the stage began in fifth grade when he was in his first band, called the “Four Gone Conclusions,” and he has “never looked back.” His children tell him he is lucky to know what he wanted to do with his life at such a young age.
“With the music business the way it is, and with the challenges of being a freelancer in this economy today, I don’t know if it was a blessing or a curse,” he said.
All through school, he played in rock bands as a singer and harmonica player. He went on to graduate from Indiana University’s School of Music but considers himself self-taught. He had some great professors there who helped him learn about chords and harmony and the formal training enabled him “to better communicate my ideas to other musicians along the way.”
When he writes songs, he is inspired by fragments of conversation overheard in a bar or on the street and things his children or wife say.
“Musicians always are on the lookout for a hook, and we sometimes find one in day-to-day encounters,” he said. “The blues is really all about truth, that’s why it has such wide appeal. And truth is found in our everyday dealings and in the people around us.”
Songs that inspire him are the ones that seem to effortlessly “speak to those human emotions that we all feel. The songs that paint the picture, that let you see the scene so clearly and in such detail, so that you get the feel, the smell, the taste of a place, a moment and an emotion; those are the songs that get to me,” Robinson said. “It’s about telling a story, and knowing that others have experience in the story’s emotions somehow makes us feel better, because we sense that we are not alone, but part of a bigger, more compassionate world.”
He could list more than a hundred singers who have inspired him, highlighting Ray Charles, Al Green, Delbert McClinton, Dinah Washington, Otis Rush, O.V. Wright and Bobby Womack. One of his heroes, soul legend Otis Clay seems to return the admiration. Clay wrote,”When Tad Robinson dies, he’s going to soul heaven, a place reserved for a very few people.”
Robinson, who’s played professionally for more than 25 years, is a National Blues Foundation Soul/Blues Artist of the Year and singing has taken him all over the United States, Canada, Western Europe and the Baltics ” as far away as Israel.
His most recent album “A New Point of View” was nominated for the 2007 Blues Music Award’s Soul Blues Album of the Year.
He always looks to surprise his audience, “maybe give them something that they didn’t see coming” and said the blues usually gets a bad rap about being slow and sad. However, the blues, “is really about dance music and having fun and laughing through your tears. Blues is about the fact that we are all in this together.”
Robinson likes to “mix it up” and bring in songs that take the audience on a trip with the band, “because that’s what the arts are supposed to do,” he said. “Music is supposed to be beautiful and uplifting. That’s what we’re about.”
His show next Thursday will showcase his original work from his last two CDs and a five-piece band is making the journey with him for the show. Members are Mike Ray on drums, Kevin Anger on keyboard, “Jz” on guitar, and David Foret on bass.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at the local offices of Century 21, Grand Mountain Bank, Radio Shack, U.S. Bank (Granby) and Rocky Mountain Roastery. Net proceeds benefit the Grand Foundation.