Phil Robinson
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Phil Robinson

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Rock Acoustic


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"Review Of A Show At Brandeis University"

Last Thursday night, a modest crowd gathered in Schwartz Auditorium for Phil Robinson...'s Festival of the Arts performance "One Man, One Guitar and the Secret of the Universe: The Thoughts and Music of Phil Robinson."

What Robinson referred to as "a fun, risk-taking night" proved to be a truly wonderful and enjoyable evening... Tables of food were set up on the stage, along with two chalkboards. "Passion! Glory!" were written on one board and the other read "Sensual Pleasures!" Robinson stood just a few feet away, playing songs, telling stories and imparting his philosophies on life and music. In an intimate and extremely inclusive atmosphere, Robinson did not use a microphone or amplify his acoustic guitar and kept the audience involved throughout the night.

Although Robinson occasionally referred to the music stand by his side for lyrics, it did not mar the fluidity of his performance. He appeared comfortable in front of the audience and even had the courage to experiment with what he called a "spontaneous creation" - spontaneously putting his poem "The Ballad of Sam and Phil" to music. Although he had a slight cold, he sang well, taking gulps of water from a milk carton between numbers.

Robinson began the night with his folk revival portion, performing a number of Woody Guthrie tunes. He opened with "I Ain't Got No Home" and spoke about Guthrie's influence on so many musicians, including Bob Dylan. Robinson said that he likes Guthrie's philosophy in music, which asserts that one should bring music into the world in a conscientous way and try to connect people through music. He followed with Guthrie's favorite song, "Hobo's Lullaby," by Goebel Reeves. Then, he played "Riding In My Car" and "This Land is Your Land," both of which were written by Guthrie and included audience participation.

Robinson finished his first set with fine renditions of two Bruce Springsteen songs, "Fire" and "Down-Bound Train," the Beatles' "Let It Be" and his first original song of the night, "Without A Fight." This tune, about a man who assesses his life and realizes that he has not lived up to his ideals, "I was a young man and I had my dreams/ and I swore that I'd follow them through/ But it got too hard to keep them alive/ and so I let them go."

Following a brief intermission, Robinson returned to what he called the "One man's spiritual journey" portion. This included... Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender" and the first tune Robinson ever wrote, a song about entering college and reflecting upon both his old life and his new life at school. In addition, Robinson played a moving cover of "Who Are You Now," a song written by his good friend Eric McEuen.

At this point Robinson announced that the official "concert" was over. However, he said there was no place he would rather be and he invited everyone to remain as he continued to play. A testament to his fine performance and music, people remained for another two and a half hours, until 12:30 a.m., as the performance turned into a campfire sing-a-long. Everyone joined in..., dancing to the music and having a wonderful time.

Robinson's performance was truly an impressive, enjoyable night... Throughout the night, Robinson expressed his love for music and his belief that it is a powerful force that can unite people; and that is precisely what happened at his performance.

- The Justice


Presently preparing debut release for an independent label.



Phil Robinson has been bringing his unique brand of earnest, guitar-based originals to audiences in bars, coffeehouses and college campuses for the past nine years.

After playing in a variety of bands as singer/guitarist, Phil has since opted to go the solo route, adopting the guise of a travelling bard or singer-songwriter. In his refreshingly wide-open musical world, however, singer-songwriter doesn't necessarily mean mellow folk or folk-rock, as Phil brings a lot of energy to his songs which come in a variety of styles including pop, rock, blues and rhythm and blues.

Phil alternates between electric and acoustic guitars and jams along with himself on bluesy harmonica to create a fuller experience for the audience. On any given night, Phil is always happy to jam with any other musicians sharing the bill, allowing them to guest on songs unrehearsed which brings an element of spontaneity and unpredictable fun to the shows, often with great success.

No stranger to the stage, Phil excels at conveying the emotional truths of experiences we go through at all points in our lives, reaching audiences and taking them on a compelling journey that is often reflective, challenging, engaging and sometimes even hilarious all at once.

Ultimately, Phil's shows are known for their high energy, humor and thoughtful commentary and for songs which run the gamut from over-the-top fun to quiet reflection. Throughout a performance, song to song, Phil will alternatively take on the guise of MC, teary-eyed balladeer, gospel preacher, or blues harp-blower, keeping the eyes of the audience glued to him through his variety and arresting them with his earnestness and sheer entertainment value.

Phil is currently based in New York City, after having lived and entertained audiences in his native New Jersey, as well as Massachusetts and Australia, where he lived for a year to study music and backpack through the outback.

Phil's highest profile gig to date has been performing with his long-time collaborator Eric McEuen as the featured entertainment for a full episode of Salem Access Television on Massachusetts cable TV.

He is currently preparing his first CD release for an independent label.