Corey Smith

Corey Smith

Joe Robinson

Sat, January 26, 2013

8:00 pm

The Sinclair

Cambridge, MA

$20 advance / $22 day of show

Sold Out

This event is 18 and over

Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.COM, or by phone at 800-745-3000. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at The Sinclair Box office Tuesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM, or at the Royale box office Fridays from 12-6PM.

Corey Smith
Corey Smith
In today’s country music climate, there is an abundance of artists and songwriters champing at the bit to tell you just how “country” they are. But none represents the genuine rural lifestyle quite like Corey Smith. Born and raised in the bucolic town of Jefferson, Ga., just a few miles northwest of the musical hotbed of Athens, Corey has carved out a successful career by writing and singing not about the idealized country imagery of trucks and bonfires, but by depicting truthfully the experience of growing up far from big-city sidewalks.
“Country music is all those things that art is supposed to be. It’s populist, it’s infectious and, most importantly, it’s about people,” says Corey. “So country music should be about artists holding a mirror back to themselves to reflect what they’re experiencing in their own little towns.”
Clearly, country fans feel the same way. Corey has amassed an unfailingly devout fan base, not only in his native Southeast region, but all around the nation, simply by telling it the way it is. He has released seven studio albums—including 2011’s Top 20 release The Broken Record—all written and produced by Corey himself. And his concerts, documented on last year’s live release, Live in Chattanooga, regularly sell out, with audiences singing along to such fan favorites as the coming-of-age anthem “Twenty-One,” the nostalgic time warp “If I Could Do It Again” and the group hug “I Love Everyone.”
Now, however, Corey is set on reaching even more people. For the first time, he’s teamed up with a producer—Keith Stegall, best known for his work with the likeminded Zac Brown Band and country icon Alan Jackson—and has recorded his most universal song yet, “Ain’t Going Out Tonight.” Set to appear on Corey’s upcoming ninth album, the breezy jam is, on the surface, an ode to staying home with the one you love, but it’s also about settling down and making sacrifices.
“To me, ‘Ain’t Going Out Tonight’ is a perfect way to begin introducing the record, because it’s about making changes,” says Corey, who in addition to working with Stegall has updated his ace touring band. “I’ve made a lot of changes in the past few months, but necessary changes so that I can still be the artist that I’ve wanted to be.”
An artist who maintains a unique voice while still honoring the tenets of his cherished genre, one that his grandmother helped introduce him to.
“There’s more than one way to skin a cat in country music,” Corey says with a smile. “What makes me different is that I write all these songs, and I write from the heart and live all these songs. But I want to be a part of the country music establishment. Whenever I visit the Country Music Hall of Fame when I’m in Nashville, I leave there feeling really inspired. This is what I’m a part of, and I want to make my mark.”
Joe Robinson
Joe Robinson
Joe Robinson plays guitar like Ali boxed, like Einstein knew theoretical physics and like Hitchcock made movies.

If the chipper twenty-year-old from the backwoods of Australia were two or three times his age, his sheer six-string ability and compositional insight, which have already earned Robinson a world-wide following, would be no less astonishing. That fact is underscored by his winning TV's Australia's Got Talent in 2008, and the Australian National Songwriting Competition at the tender age of 13.

But with his new album Let Me Introduce You, Robinson has made a daring quantum leap. The gifted young virtuoso has redefined himself as a budding pop-world visionary, deftly walking a tightrope between the instrumental music that's put him in the spotlight and a unique fusion of vocally based rock, blues, jazz, country and R&B that's entirely his own.

"Let Me Introduce You was a dive into the deep end for me," Robinson confides. "It would have been easy to make another instrumental album, but I crave being inspired. When I am, music and ideas just seem to pour out non-stop. So I decided to challenge myself by writing mostly vocal tunes for the album, which I'd never done before.

"That meant I had to transform myself into a songwriter in the classic sense and learn how to make my guitar and my vocal performances compliment each other. The 18 months it took to write and record the album were like riding a runaway train, but as it turns out that's exactly what I needed to do to find my own style as an artist."

That style, as the 13 tracks on Let Me Introduce You reveal, is upbeat, elegant, soulful and stinging — often all at once. Numbers like the beautifully textured debut single "Out Alive" balance daredevil guitar with percolating grooves and soaring vocal performances.

"That song mixes the R&B base I wanted to weave through most of the vocal tunes with a heavy jazz-fusion approach that really lets me stretch out on electric guitar," Robinson explains. "But melody is the most important thing for me, and has been since I began playing."

The romantic "Adelaide" twines the graceful acoustic six-string that has been Robinson's signature sound with his equally wistful and melodic singing over a breezy groove to create a work of marvelous pop élan. In contrast, the opener "Lethal Injection" is a potent blast of powerhouse electric guitar — a jazz-blues-rock explosion that displays Robinson's ferocious picking technique and timeless six-string filigrees like a firestorm of wah-wah and vintage Les Paul-style echo.

"I wanted to display all of the aspects of my artistry not only to satisfy myself, but to keep my fans happy," Robinson notes. "I appreciate that they've been so supportive and have allowed me to play music for a living. I don't know if I'd survive if I had to do anything else. That's why the album has such a broad range, from a pretty save-the-world ballad like 'One Heart At a Time" to a be-bop number like 'Uli's Jump,' which is in there" — he laughs — "to show off how fast I can play."

Although it seems like Robinson was born with a guitar in his hands, his first instrument was piano. "But I was bored playing piano and hated reading music," he says. "I just wanted to make up melodies." So he switched to electric guitar at age 10 and formed a band with some school chums in Temagog, a town he describes as "40 miles from the nearest streetlight."

"I didn't have my own guitar. People in my mom's band let me borrow theirs," he continues. Nonetheless, he was soon assimilating the styles of world-class six-stringers via YouTube. "Anything that caught my ear — Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Mark Knopfler — I'd get on the computer and figure it out. I was voracious, and I still am. But I've never tried to copy anybody else's style. I was looking for inspiration."

Robinson truly found his calling at age 13 after meeting the Emmanuel brothers, Phil and Tommy, widely considered Australia's two finest guitarists. He was particularly struck by Tommy's dazzling acoustic finger picking technique and turned to the acoustic guitar as his primary instrument.

"When I saw Tommy, I immediately thought, 'I've got to be that good!' " Tommy was also taken with Joe's blossoming talent and became his mentor.

A few years later — after Robinson had already won his first Australian National Songwriting Competition — Emmanuel introduced him to American audiences, taking him on a tour of the States that included an important stay in Nashville, Tennessee, where Robinson currently lives. On that trek he met Frank Rogers, a top Nashville producer who's made smash records with Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and many others.

"I played one song for him and he said, 'I want to produce your album,' " Robinson recounts. "He was an award-winning producer, so I was quite surprised."

It was the beginning of a musical partnership that continues on Let Me Introduce You and began with Robinson's second album, 2009's dazzling all-solo-acoustic Time Jumpin', the sequel to his 2007 made-in-Australia debut Birdseed.

In 2008 Robinson went home at the invitation of the producers of Australia's Got Talent, handily winning the competition. "That was a pretty unbelievable experience," he says. "It was a lot of fun and a huge amount of people got to see me play, which allowed me to begin touring on my own as a headliner."

Recently Robinson's been traveling the world with his own trio featuring a drummer and bassist headlining tours across Europe, Japan, North American and Australia, displaying his virtuosity on acoustic and electric guitar and honing many of the songs on stage that appear on Let Me Introduce You.

"My goal was to keep my musical DNA as a thread through the whole album while evolving my electric guitar playing, songwriting and singing," Robinson says. "I think that along the way I created a new style for myself, with room for me to continue to grow as an artist. The truth is, music is something you do because you can't stand not doing it. Like Frank Zappa and Miles Davis, I'm interested in continuously reinventing myself and seeking new directions. Let Me Introduce You sets me on a course that I'm thrilled to keep exploring."

Ted Drozdowski
Venue Information:
The Sinclair
52 Church St
Cambridge, MA, 02138