Robin Jackson
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Robin Jackson

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Americana Adult Contemporary




"Robin Jackson album review"

"A catchy and captivating song-crafter, a true storyteller.” - WBEZ, NPR Chicago

"Robin Jackson - Album review"

[Directly Translated] “Multi-instrumentalist who's played with many (from Gogol Bordello to the Decemberists), Robin Jackson is one of the hidden gems of the inexhaustible mine of Portland indie-folk. His self-produced solo debut is a crystalline collection of ten songs he wrote and performed with the support of a band of six members. With his saxophone and clarinet are added strings, percussion, acoustic guitar and piano, in a frame capable of songwriting ideas of nostalgic lyricism but also triggered pop ballads, all seasoned with a footprint measured chamber-folk with jazzy features that conjure the best of artists such as Andrew Bird. What a a Discovery. Listen: - Rockererilla Magazine, Italy

"Robin Jackson: Dark Stars (album review)"

Amid the changing season, Dark Stars adds an element of comfort—having Robin Jackson there to sing through the darkness, and lead the way to understanding is valuable. Jackson’s brand of singer/songwriter pop feels honest and direct, leaving personable tracks coming from relatable intentions. - Treble Magazine

"Beyond The Quirk"

06/2012 – [BEYOND THE QUIRK] Fans of Robin Jackson’s flashy bands Vagabond Opera and March Fourth Marching Band might be surprised at the straightforward intimacy of his folky debut solo album, Dust Diaries—but it’s definitely a pleasant surprise. His distinctive vocal style, somewhere between Phil Ochs and Rufus Wainwright, manages to be both warm and breezy, and makes a supple vehicle for his generally easygoing original storytelling. Hooky, evocative tracks like “Paper Bird” and “October Rain” reveal a solid singer songwriter with broad appeal. On stage as on disk, he’ll be abetted by musicians from Portland Cello Project, The Eels, M4 and VO. Y La Bamba’s Luz Elena Mendoza opens. - Willamette Week

"Going out on his own"

The term singer-songwriter is rather simplistic when the artist at hand has mastered six instruments and can play many others.

But that is the best way to describe Robin Jackson’s work on his first solo album, even if iTunes calls it “pop.”

Many of you have seen Jackson perform as part of Vagabond Opera, which is back in town Oct. 6 at the WOW Hall. Previously, he was a member of the March Fourth Marching Band.

Jackson grew up in Eugene and New Zealand before settling in Portland eventually and joining those two bands, neither of which ever made Eugene a stranger. Both are known to please crowds with showmanship, theatrical clothing and music that makes people dance.

At the 2011 Oregon Country Fair, Jackson made a promise to himself to put out his first solo album within a year.

“I wrote it down,” he said during a recent phone interview, noting just how serious his pledge was.

Jackson met that deadline with a soft release in June. Now he is preparing a national release for “Dust Diaries,” a lush, intricately arranged batch of introspective song-poems that you can sample Saturday at Tsunami Books .

Jackson admits it’s a breakup album, with the majority of its songs about three former romantic relationships.

“I live in a fantasy world, in a good way,” the 1997 South Eugene High School graduate said. “I’ve had enough love in my life that’s felt like that fantasy come true, which can be a bad or good thing because I know that feeling exists — it’s possible — so I want that feeling again.”

Jackson has considered writing love songs about The One , almost as a way to conjure her. But to date, he’s written only one love song.

“Love and joy doesn’t always need an outlet,” he said. “You’re just in it and feeling good. Pain is this thing you want to get rid of and channel somewhere. What can I do? Song! Yes!

“I would love to feel inspired to write a love song. For some reason, pain is easier to grab onto and it’s not as cheesy. It’s easier to make it into something.”

Heartbreak and healing

This listener is glad Jackson, 33, has found so many diverse ways to express his heartbreak.

The album’s first track, “October Rain,” is rather perky in describing the fizzled end of a relationship. An up-tempo song of transition, it is a perfect track for the shifting season we are in right now.

The song most likely to make listeners pause and listen closely is not about a woman. “Red Blanket” is an affecting, true story about a childhood memory Jackson has of his father, who died three years ago and to whom the CD is dedicated.

Lyrics are at the forefront of each song. But nowhere do they stand out more than against the spare arrangement and simple guitar picking on this song, which Jackson said he wrote in just 10 minutes.

“I need a strong emotional trigger to write the good ones,” he said.

His father suffered from anxiety and agoraphobia, which Jackson said he self-medicated in many ways, including with alcohol. A caretaker found him dead at his rental home with an indentation of a doorknob on his forehead.

“(As a kid), I’d wake up with nightmares and he would be sitting on the couch in the middle of the night,” Jackson said. “I would go and sit on his lap and he had this red blanket that was my grandmother’s. I would ask him what he was doing, and he said, ‘Talking to God.’?”

In the song, those lines, “talking to God,” are sung softly, rhythmically, repetitively, almost putting the listener in a meditative trance.

“I’d be like, ‘What’s God saying?’ Jackson recalled, impersonating himself as a child. “He would say, ‘God loves you.’ It was just really sweet and a regular thing that happened.”

A bohemian soul

Jackson’s father was also a musician, but his fear of going out and being in situations he couldn’t control kept him from playing in public.

Jackson is quite the opposite. He’s extremely social and prone to inviting people to events.

He hosts a “songwriter soiree” each month that sees as many as 100 people passing through and sharing songs or just listening. The event supported him and gave him the deadlines he needed to keep that promise to himself — for his father — of completing the album.

His formal education in Eugene, starting at the Waldorf School and ending with transferring out of the University of Oregon School of Music, still influences him, he said. But he is a bohemian soul, absorbing inspiration at every travel stop and from the artists around him.

“My life is kind of charmed,” he said.

“It feels really good to come and play in Eugene. …

“I feel like I’ve hit the next phase of my life, feeling supported by all the seeds I’ve sown over the last 10 years.”

Call Serena Markstrom at 541-338-2371, or send her an e-mail at - Register Guard, Eugene, OR


Dust Diaries (Self-released) 2012

Dark Stars (Self Released) 2017



"A catchy and captivating song-crafter...a true storyteller" - NPR

"A hidden gem of the inexhaustible Portland indie folk scene"  - Rockererilla Magazine, Rome, Italy

Award winning Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Robin Jackson, known for his wild, theatrical contributions to bands like Vagabond Opera and the March Fourth Marching Band, has brought a strong presence to the world of indie folk.  Mr Jackson, often joined by his all-star six piece ensemble of NW musicians The Caravan, draws upon the moody spirit of his rain-soaked, Portland, Or. home to create an eclectic brew of dreamy folk-pop, cinematic indie rock and above all, enigmatic storytelling. 

With a degree in ethnomusicology and an unflagging musical curiosity, Jackson has lived and busked around the world, from an intentional beach community in New Zealand to the streets of Europe. He is a master of a myriad of instruments, from saxophone to mbira and has also performed or recorded with notable acts such as Gregory Allen Isakov, Emancipator, Devotchka, and Amanda Palmer.  An impresario of community and collaboration, Jackson has built on his colorful, bohemian upbringing and dedicated himself to creating and supporting music around Portland, Or where he lives on an urban farm with his cat and a circus. His newest album, Dark Stars, was recorded in the legendary Type Foundry Studios and is available everywhere. 

Band Members