Joe Robinson

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Joe Robinson

Postby RandeDager » Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:07 pm

I was driving to my evening class today and my favorite talk radio station was broadcasting a baseball game so I switched to NPR. I had barely tuned in when the host began to introduce "Winner of Australia's Got Talent, Joe Robinson". Hasn't he performed at CAAS? He was in the studio with his drummer and bass player. He's 19 and is touring the U.S. The claim was that he also recently won the "Guitar Player Magazine"'s "Readers' Choice award for the best new guitarist.

He played a few impressive tunes on a steel string acoustic like most of those guys seem to use because of Tommy Emmanuel.

I listened very carefully to the interview and there was NO mention of Tommy Emmanuel. The most credit he gave to his learning what he does was to "YouTube". Wasn't Tommy responsible for Joe Robinson getting to where he is? I know that Tommy has helped a few of the very young guys, but I somehow thought Joe was one of them.

If I'm correct, then I wonder about any problems that exist or occurred along the way?
Rande
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Re: Joe Robinson

Postby thenorm » Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:02 pm

Could be because he's young... could have been nervous or the questions may have been vague enough that he might not cite Tommy as inspiration. Some people just don't interview well.
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Re: Joe Robinson

Postby Tony Enamel » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:54 am

I second what Norm said. Joe usually gives credit to Tommy (his first big influence and his teacher was Phil, by the way) and perhaps the interview didn't go in that direction.

Just look at this review from Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/cli ... _blog.html
(Is it the Mike Joyce who used to post on the Chetboard?)

Actually Joe is steering more towards singing and playing nowadays, backed by a bassist and a drummer and changing between acoustic (Maton) and electric (Gretsch Country Gentleman) guitar. I think it's a clever move, because he's on his way to develop his own artistic identity then, not always being regarding as a "Tommy clone" (which he isn't).

Regards,

Ingo
If it ain't got the groove, the bodies won't move.
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Re: Joe Robinson

Postby Longridge » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:01 am

Joe did appear at CAAS last summer (2010) and I believe he has been invited to be there again this year. There is no question that Joe Robinson put a lot of effort into playing "Tommy" songs which helped propel him into the spotlight. If he is changing his style it goes to his credit and shows his skills. However, the Tommy influence and support is still a fact.
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Re: Joe Robinson

Postby Longridge » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:12 am

Joe Robinson.... Phil Emmanuel and Tommy influence.
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/8196561
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Re: Joe Robinson

Postby RandeDager » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:48 am

Thanks for the confirmation that Tommy & Phil were major influences on Joe. I was just surprised that he didn't mention them when asked specific questions such as "How did you learn what you know?" , "Who would you consider to be your major influence?", etc. His answers involved YouTube, books, DVD's, etc, but no names. The opportunity was certainly there.

Like you say, he may be trying to get out from a "shadow" and developing his own identity.
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Re: Joe Robinson

Postby Randy Finney » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:03 am

From a marketing perspective, making reference to your influences, especially early on in your career, is usually a bad idea, as it will invite comparisons that you may not want.

You risk alienating those who very much like the artist to whom you are referring and see you as a cheap copy.

You also risk alienating those who do not like the artist to whom you are referring. These people will assume, "I don't really like so and so, so it is unlikely I will like you."

A marketing strategy of converting fans of one artist to also being fans of a similar artist has very limited returns. For example, I am having Joe up to play in Ottawa and Toronto in a few months. I have completed the "fan conversion" part of my marketing of Joe. Tommy gets about 3,500 people between these two cities. Of these, 209 bought tickets to Joe. And, even at this, most of these are people who are genuine guitar fans and genuinely curious listeners who I could get to come out to almost any non-local player who has never played here before.

The reason that this conversion percentage is so low is that musical taste, being 100% subjective, gets real complicated real fast. People listen to particular types of music at particular times in their lives for all kinds of reasons. Two people can list their top ten favorite artists, have one common artist as number one, and not like each others remaining nine.

Don't be too hard on Joe for not publicly acknowledging Tommy or Chet, or whoever. My hope is that he is has been properly coached to understand that 90% of his fans will have to be his fans. Unique fans. Casual listeners who know little about solo guitar playing or its history, and who will discover solo guitar through Joe. (Or, and this is more likely, will just become Joe Fans and not bother to explore the genre as a whole at all.)

From here on in, I will be selling Joe as a young whippersnapper who can play like the wind, is very entertaining, and at whose concert you will have a lot of fun. I will avoid any reference to Tommy.

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Re: Joe Robinson

Postby Longridge » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:20 am

Tommy acknowledges influences of lots of great musicians and styles of music.... constantly. People want to know all that stuff.
I'm sure Joe will do well on his own merit and will return to calling out names of influencing guitarists and music sometime in his future. He is very talented and has nothing to lose by doing so.
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Re: Joe Robinson

Postby Randy Finney » Fri Apr 01, 2011 11:52 am

I agree with you that the more established you become the less it matters whether or not you talk about your influences.

I also agree that people who are into the genre, and especially those who are hobby guitarists, want to know this stuff.

As for the casual listener/concert goer, they couldn't care less. These people only care about one thing - do they feel a little better after the show than the did before the show. They just see it as another entertainment experience and only compare it to their other entertainment experiences - going to the theatre, to a movie, to a sporting event, etc.

There are always exceptions but, most have no interest in becoming at all knowledgeable about what they just experienced. I often talk to casual Tommy fans after a show. A few of them will remember the names of a couple of the tunes he played, a few will remember he did a short tribute to somebody but, even fewer will remember who this person was.

There is another marketing danger in dwelling on your influences or your development as a player - it can alienate people by making them think that they need some prerequisite knowledge in order to "understand" (read: "enjoy") what you do.

I am not being cynical. It is just that you won't make a living as a touring act by doing anything to create the impression that your audience has to commit to anything, know anything, learn anything, or do anything other than just show up and enjoy. You just won't get the numbers.

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Re: Joe Robinson

Postby Phil Owens » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:59 pm

Truth is that in addition to being a very gracious person, Joe is an incredible--and incredibly diverse--player. He is a master in his own right and well on his way to becoming a "Richard Smith" of sorts - a multi-style genius. I believe he has been playing for 12-13 years, and likely has a multitude of influences from Chet to Django to Albert Lee to Joe Pass, etc. Therefore it should not be construed that there is a rift between him and Tommy if he fails to credit Tommy in one interview. And the notion that Tommy is responsible for getting Joe where he is today denigrates Joe's own talent, discipline, etc. The answer to how did you learn what you know is he spent thousands of hours in the woodshed.

A (related?) aside: The "Tommy-Clone" moniker really irks me; It sounds like a slight. (Does anyone ever say Chet-Clone or Jerry-Clone or Merle-clone?) Somehow it's honorable to honor Chet, but the young Tommy followers need to hurry up and "find their own style." These kids who love to play guitar have found (arguably) the greatest living influence. Why should/would they not want to emulate him? It does not mean they are trying to be just like him. Give them a few years and they will discover others who inspire them in new directions - as Joe has done.

Phil
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