ROCKINGHAM– Whether he’s teaching lessons, practicing at home or performing on stage, Jonathan Robinson has a guitar either in his hands or within reach most of the day.
Soon, anyone will be able to hear the Hamlet native’s playing whenever they want as he puts the finishing touches on his upcoming extended play (EP), “As Long As I’m Alive.”
Robinson played an hour-long set on the night of Friday, Aug. 24th featuring all four original tunes and several classic rock covers as he opened for Dark Horse at Hudson Brothers Deli.
“When Jonathan asked about the possibility of him opening up for us, I was beyond excited,” said Frankie Moree, guitarist and singer for Dark Horse. “To have such a talented musician approach me and ask what I thought of the idea … I was thrilled! He is an amazing player who can play anything … his skills are something every player strives for.
Joining Robinson on stage were bassist Bill Caswell and drummer John Martin. (Note: Martin is also a contributor to the Richmond Observer and has previously written about Robinson.)
During the show, Robinson encouraged audience members to take a free T-shirt and pre-order the album, which will be available in a digital format or on CD or vinyl. He later joined Dark Horse, performing a solo on a cover of the Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See.”
MAKING A RECORD
Robinson began recording last October in Nashville, playing everything but the drums. The backing beats were laid down by Will Sanford.
But that was before he connected with Joey Boswell of Mechanics Hill Marketing in Robbins. “Before you knew it, I had re-tracked almost the whole thing,” he laughed. “But I’m really happy with the outcome of it.”
Robinson launched an Indiegogo campaign with a variety of merchandise packages to help finance the mastering and is hoping to release a digital version within the first two weeks of September. He also hopes to have the physical copies available by the end of the month or early October.
SONGS FROM THE PAST
All four songs on the album were written by Robinson, the most recent being about eight years old.
“All of those songs I’ve sort of had in my back pocket a long time,” said the 36-year-old guitarist. “But the time was right to do my own thing … I’ve always had side projects but it’s never been my focus, so this is a new thing for me.”
Robinson’s music is a mixture of his major influences: mainly jam bands, Southern rock, and blues with a splash of country.
“You hear a lot of Allman Brothers because there’s a lot of slide guitar on it,” he said. “The country just sort of comes out in my guitar playing … that’s how I play.”
As for the lyrics, Robinson said each song is personal. “I’ve always loved literature and words … so when I started playing the guitar, I was already writing things … there was always a natural marriage for me,” he said. “The funny thing is, at first, all my songs were very, very personal and mostly autobiographical, but you go to Nashville and they want you to write 10 songs a week, so you just look around and write songs. “I still think my best songs are the personal ones,” he added.
What came first, the music or the words? For Robinson, they usually come together. “As I’m writing the words, the tune is in my brain,” he said. “Very rarely do I separate them … in my brain, I just have to find (the music) on the guitar … but I know what I’m after most of the time.”
Robinson said he has started lining things up to go on the road around the Southeast to promote the EP. “I did a stint with a jam band out of Nashville last year and made a lot of good contacts kinda with this in mind,” he said, adding that the circuit they play ranges from Knoxville, Tennessee to St. Augustine, Florida, and tentative dates have been set. “So it should be a fairly quick process to get my foot in the door in that circuit.”
He also plans to release four songs about three times a year once his first recording becomes available.
As for a full-length album? “These days, I feel like people don’t listen to albums,” he said. “But if you can do EPs and keep their attention … instead of doing a 12-song album a year, if I can do four four-song EPs I feel like they’re not wasted as much.”
He added that he has some “fun ideas” for continuity between the EPs, “but that’s the route I’m gonna try, especially doing it independently.”
Robinson said he plans to continue teaching lessons at Casino Guitars in Southern PInes, playing local gigs with Simple Things — a side project with his sister Ashely on vocals, Martin on drums and Wayne Humphries on bass — and tour regional circuits with other bands across the country. “I don’t plan to stop that and just do this,” he said. “Well, I would love for this to get so busy that I couldn’t do that, but until that’s true, I’ll just do all of it.”