The Rocks Off 100: Robin Kirby, Silk and Sandpaper Songwriter
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? Singer-Songwriter Robin Kirby entered the Houston music scene in 2008 after leaving her band Robin & the Hurricanes behind in Dallas. Since thenshe's been constantly on the go, offering a stripped-down and honest style that sounds absolutely timeless. Check out "Patriotic Confusion" below, a tune she wrote for a friend then serving in the Iraq War under George W. Bush, but recently recorded in a better quality under inspiration from the renewed nuclear threat of North Korea.
Kirby's voice has that combination of silk and sandpaper that made Janis Joplin such a powerful presence. Every note and melody is custom-built to draw a listener into her honest and open expression. She's currently working with Richard Cagle, who snagged a Houston Press Music Award for producing Carolyn Wonderland's Truckstop Favorites Vol. 2.
Her last album, Robin Kirby Live, was released in 2010 and recorded live at the Council of Magickal Arts with Texas blues guitarist Bill Nelson on lead. She plays Last Concert Cafe every third Tuesday of the month, as the headliner for a series called "Where the Girls Are" hosted by Wendy Elizabeth Jones. Proceeds are donated to a different charity every month, in addition to giving female musicians in Houston a wider stage.
Home Base: Kirby does most of her songcraft at home on a 1912 upright piano, but is really constantly writing wherever she happens to be. She enjoys playing Last Concert Café and Dan Electro's, but any place with a good sound system suits her fine.
Why Do You Stay in Houston: "I stay in Houston because it is a great city, the fourth largest city in the USA, and because Texas has embraced me as a musician, and songwriter," Kirby says. "I am grateful for the fans and listeners who have shared and bought the music and come out to shows.
"It has so many great music venues to play and great musicians to share the music with. The opportunities here are endless," she adds. "I intend to tour the U.S. and Europe with my music in the future."
Music Scene Pet Peeves: "Cheerleading and fake promoters," Kirby says. "If you are paying someone to advise you on your music career, or to promote you, they should work closely with you on your specific case offering plans and ideas that are tailored to your situation. Don't pay someone to offer vague info or to be a music-industry life coach.
"If you are going to pay someone for music-industry advice or promotion, for goodness sakemake sure they know about the music industry," she continues. "Ask for more proof than a Twitter page describing themselves as an expert. Twenty percent of a show's income is a lot, which is what most promoters take -- be sure they are doing what they say they are going to do!"
Good War Story: Every guitar player breaks strings in a show every once in a while, but Kirby managed to do so three times on three separate guitars. She had to borrow another setup to finish.
5 Desert Island Discs:
- The Doors, Strange Days
- Fleetwood Mac, Rumors
- Pink Floyd, The Wall
- Rolling Stones, Some Girls
- Janis Joplin, Greatest Hits
First Song You Fell in Love With: "George Gershwin, "Summertime.'"
Robin Kirby plays Friday, April 19 at Walters as part of the NORML Celebration, featuring Fallacy, Kleos, Desecrate the Faith, Epic Death, Paegan, Project Armageddon, Cerebral Down, , Black Hole Caravan, Sweet Release, Annie B Band and Beyond All Deception.
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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