Monday, November 12, 2012

The First Family of Texas Music - The Robisons

On Saturday night, Nov 24th, Luckenbach Texas will host and be blessed with a rare performance by the entire First Family of Texas Music, The Robisons.  I have one opportunity to get this right; to shine the light properly on this Family in words and, on the night of their performance. I am extremely honored and feel privileged in many ways. These are my words, I suspect many of you reading this will agree, the talent running through the veins of  The Robison clan is hard fought, hard earned, street worthy and born from a story book life that could only be lived in Texas.  When I say "Story book life" I do not mean a sweet, cutesy life of luxury - far from it.

The Family, which consists of Charlie Robison, Bruce Robison and Robyn Ludwick is further extended by what seems to be perfectly paired spouses.. Kelly Willis is married to Bruce. John "Lunchmeat" Ludwick is married to Robyn.  There are no other options, in the entire universe, that would round out this clan the way these two do. Kelly has an amazing solo career of her own.  Lunchmeat is a highly praised and skilled bass player.  Lunchmeat played bass for Charlie and Bruce in the late 80's and went on to tour with Kelly for a good 15 yrs or so. The Robisons have made it fairly easy to stitch this family quilt together, with the strongest of thread and the most exquisite, albeit a bit tattered, of fabrics.

It's not everyday that 3 out of 4 siblings get the "gifted" gene. The odds are against it really, especially when there are no apparent traces of prior musical ability in the immediate family..unless you count growing up, literally, on sawdust floors and benches in smoky Dance Halls and Honky Tonks in Bandera Texas.  You see, at a very early time in the lives of these siblings, that was their home on the weekends.  Their parents and grandparents weren't performers, they were dancers.  They were customers of these fine Texas establishments.

It's no secret the family has been highly successful, independent of one another. The "together" part is what we normally do not see. Charlie leaped out in front playing the Texas Music scene and gaining public recognition early on. He has that incredible charisma about him.. it's infectious and it is intoxicating.  His charm oozes out..even when I have to tell him he can't smoke on the Legendary Luckenbach stage..he is charming!  I have watched him grab hold of a sleepy crowd ( anyone else would have surely lost them) and have them screaming and stomping their feet for more at nights end.  I have been through power outages and horrific thunderstorms with Charlie in my care at Luckenbach. Charlie crosses all the lines, any one you care to draw, he will cross it. Charlie makes us all feel good.  Bruce is the calm in the storm, so it seems.  He is a Robison however, the fire does burn.  Bruce has the ability to turn Luckenbach into a symphony of choreographed Rednecks! You shut up, you grab your  partner and you 2 step onto the dance floor in unison when Bruce starts to play. It is the most beautiful sight you have ever seen.  He knows how to unite the world ...  Maybe he should run for office?? Robyn, little sister, yes Robyn, you will always be the little sister and you wear it well.  Robyn is the late bloomer, the secret weapon of the family. A perfect mix of Bruce and Charlie with a very unique position..she softens the blow, just a tad bit.  Let it never be said that Robyn doesn't have the Robison fire....she packs a BIG punch and is a triple threat in songwriting, singing and instrumentally.  Her brothers will both tell you, very proudly, that she is one of the best writers of song they know. That is the highest of compliments considering Bruce has had songs covered by George Strait, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks. Charlie has had enormous national success with several of his self penned songs as well.  Robyn is contemplative.  She takes time to craft her words and paint vivid pictures. Robyn has a distinctive edge about her that will haunt you, in a good way, if you listen to the stories.  They are not for the faint of heart, she tells it straight.  Can she physically move you?  Yes, she can. None of the Robison's are negligent in that regard. It's a matter of Family Pride, I believe.

Steamboat Music Fest -  Bruce, Kelly, Charlie & Robyn
So what about the "together"?  Except for the occasional "Me and My Brother" acoustic tours that Bruce and Charlie embark on, the family remains fiercely independent of one another in regards to their public careers.  Bruce and Kelly are now touring together as 'The Bruce and Kelly Show".  Lunchmeat is always stage left of his bride of 20 yrs, keeping Robyn in perfect time and harmonizing with her. Charlie is still on tour throughout Texas letting the Good Times Roll.  The Robison Family made one appearance together, including Kelly, at Steamboat Music Fest  4 years ago.  It was well received.  It was at that moment when I decided, and pretty much the rest of the world, that this family is indeed, the First Family of Texas Music.  The songs just kept coming, the talent was snowballing from the stage... as well as the spirited "cheap shots" (yes, a Robison would call it that).  The Robisons are competitive and there is a sense of survival of the fittest that runs deep within, even with each other. It's a cold, hard world out there in the land of Honky Tonks and Dance Halls, your backside must be as tough as a Longhorn wandering through the briar patch.  The Robisons created and  earned every bit of their success. They have endured a span of over 25 years entertaining the world, independent of each other, so it seems.  The rest of the story is this... they are FAMILY.  They still get together on holidays, I've heard tales of food fights and unexpected fires.  A few good cussin's have no doubt ensued. If you look at the careers of each of the Robisons, there is always a sprinkling of  behind the scenes family collaboration either in production/studio, recording another's song, borrowing a band member or a piece of equipment.  Acknowledging each other in interviews and on their websites; the Robisons always acknowledge each other.  They support one another in spirit and a quiet understanding of "I know where you are, I know where you have been"  The First Family of Texas Music is united, after all. Hallelujah!

Luckenbach Texas PROUDLY presents The Robison Family Thanksgiving, Saturday, November 24th, 8pm.  All Dysfunctional Families welcome, including your in-laws :)

Abbey Road

Saturday, November 24th, 2012
Doors - 7pm.  Show starts at 8pm.
Tickets are available online at
Advance tickets $30. Day of show $35

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