Robyn Ludwick
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Robyn Ludwick

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter




"Robyn Ludwick - Little Rain"

And the lines can break my heart
And the pain can do me in
And just when I gain control
The darkness brings you back again

In Little Rain, Robyn Ludwick sings for those times when love's longing lengthens the afternoon shadows, stretching them past the point of no return. The working day is over, there's nowhere to hide from what's missing in your life. You go ahead and open that second bottle of wine. Hell, the one you started on was already open, wasn't it? And only half full, you're pretty sure. So you take a sip and hope for the soft morning light of happiness all the while knowing that the maddening darkness of midnight awaits.

And I know by the way you love me
Leaves me crying out for more
And I know that your feelings for me
Ain't so strong anymore
But with your touch you can control me
And it thrills me to the end
But it breaks my mind
And takes all I got
Not to take you back again

Oh, the lies you tell yourself to get that fix, and the deals you make with the devil to feel just a touch of that heaven you crave. Then there's the cost of it after the lies are exposed and the deals have gone bad. Ms. Ludwick knows the truth about it all at some basic level, and that truth, sad as it is, permeates her songs and her voice. She sings of love gone bad or never even realized with a voice of pure Texas country soul. Her phrasings are so real and urgent that listening to her songs of heartache is an antidote to the sadness in your heart. Her blues are so blue, her longings are so raw, her need is so great that you start thinking you might just make it through. Maybe the shitty hand you've been dealt by love isn't quite as bad as you thought. Another glass of wine, listen once more, this time with no tears.

I know you know we've had some good times
And you know it's been cloudy too
Baby it don't take no rays of sunshine
To make me fall again for you

I was taken with Robyn Ludwick after hearing her last album, Out of These Blues. You listen to so much when you write about music, and you want it to be great, but you often settle for good. Then someone hits it out of the park as she did with that record, and after you've lived in it for a while, the inevitable question is, can she do it again? The answer here is yes. It doesn't hurt that she brought Gurf Morlix back to produce and play on the record. Rick Richards handles the drums and Ms. Ludwick's husband, Lunchmeat (a/k/a John Ludwick) is steady as ever on bass. The package is complete, every song is like it should be, like it has to be. Bravo!

Little Rain releases July 15. You can download the lead track, "Longbow, OK", at

[Lyrics are from "Breaks My Mind."] - No Depression

"Robyn Ludwick spins tales of forgotten person"

Robyn Ludwick just returned from Australia, where her sad songs made thieves and murderers cry.

She had been told her tour's last show would be at a medium-security prison, but her audience included all manner of criminals.

"Who all can claim that?" asks Ludwick, who performs Saturday at McGonigel's Mucky Duck. "I don't know how I get hooked up with certain things, but they're all fascinating."

Ludwick's songs represent the hard-hearted. "Little Rain," her fourth album, offers 11 intricately detailed stories, starting with a tale about incest in "Longbow, OK."

"It's got a little something for everybody," she says, "Banjo, incest … I guess they go together sometimes. We thought it was best to get it out of the way. To just freak people out right upfront."

The album closes with "Stalker." In between are stories about spurned lovers, children of distant parents and others who feel uprooted from anything resembling comfort or security in their day-to-day. People are often on the move in Ludwick's songs. "Most of the time I write about underdogs or the forgotten person, the underrepresented person," she says. "I guess that's just been the demographic for me."

Many of her songs have some roots in her own life - "70/30," she says - "just to have it all make sense and appeal to other people." She then spins them into fictional tales with a strong narrative voice. Because she's such a fine storyteller, the tales resonate. Numerous people have told her the rough "Breaks My Mind" reminds them of a friend or mother or daughter who keeps returning to an unhealthy relationship.

"I guess I hit on a global age-old story of just not being able to let a bad guy go," Ludwick says. "We used to joke - before we had a title for it - that it was called '(Expletive) No. 4.' It's about those moments where you dig around for some self-worth and try to fight against this weakness that keeps returning."

Ludwick grew up around music, though she was late finding her own voice. Raised in Bandera, she remembers being pulled along to Hill Country dance halls as a child; her mother worked as a bartender. Both of her brothers - Bruce and Charlie Robison - are successful songwriters. At 20, she married John Ludwick, who played bass with her brothers as well as Bruce Robison's wife, Kelly Willis. Ludwick sang on her brothers' records for years, but she worked as an engineer and studied songwriting more than writing songs. That changed when she was about 30. "I guess it was some latent gene," she says.

"Honestly, I had lots to write about when I was 18, 19, but I didn't know how," Ludwick says. "I wasn't ready to do it at that point. And I'd taken a professional path because I'd married a musician. Bruce and Charlie always encouraged me to write, but it hadn't crossed my mind. And then one day, I just started doing it."

Ludwick released "For So Long" in 2005 and "Too Much Desire" three years later. She worked with noted producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams) on "Out of These Blues," a striking record released in 2011.

The two collaborated again on "Little Rain," on which she perfects a mix of rootsy singer-songwriter fare delivered in her aching, soulful voice.

She has a remarkable knack for a smart turn of phrase: The narrator of "Longbow, OK" was "raised up and let down by the family tree." She writes about love unflinchingly, getting at the sacrifice and burden that comes in a relationship: "Tell me something good about love," she sings in "Something Good." The midalbum uptempo respite argues that music, unlike people, never lets you down.

The 11 songs are beautifully pulled together by the album's title, which Ludwick says didn't come easily. It's a brilliant choice that can take on any number of meanings: A little rain can bring relief, or it can be an insufficient offering; it's something to anticipate eagerly or something to endure until it passes.

Ludwick pulled the title from the song "Heartache": "You know, a little rain, baby, can do so much."

"I like that idea of being open about saying, 'I need more,'" she says. "Whether it's love or career or family. I think it can mean something different to different people. There's a little mystique to it, even though I know what it meant for me."

Robyn Ludwick

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk

Tickets: $20-$22; 713-528-5999, - Houston Chronicle, Andrew Dansby

"Hard Woman With a Heartache"

By Richard Skanse

The Devil’s Backbone Tavern in Fischer, Texas is the kinda place that looks pretty much exactly like you’d think it would. Not necessarily dangerous or menacing — certainly not at 5 p.m. on a weekday, when the amiable bartender calls you “Hon” and the happy-hour crowd consists of a single table of laid-back, silver-haired locals nursing Lone Stars, Pall Malls and small talk. But definitely weathered and worn, with every wooden surface inside its long stone walls — bar, stools, tables, floorboards, even the ceiling — carved, scarred and seasoned by generations of patrons living and dead. It’s the kind of place where a matter-of-fact “ghost warning” sign seems no more incongruous than the shuffleboard table, and that lights up a woman like Robyn Ludwick the minute she walks through the door.

“Don’t you love this place?” she enthuses after ordering her own Lone Star, selecting a little Vern Gosdin and Conway Twitty from the jukebox, and cracking a side door to take an admiring peek into the large adjacent — and very dusty — dancehall. “This is the coolest part of the bar, but its been closed forever,” she says wistfully. “I really wish somebody would do something with it — it’s gorgeous.”

Ludwick has lived a few miles away in Wimberley with her husband and two kids since 2003, but the Devil’s Backbone has been one of her favorite Hill Country haunts for more than 20 years. “I’ve been coming here since I was in high school, when my brother Bruce was going to Southwest Texas and I would come stay with him during the summer,” she says. Even then, the old beer joint felt like home.

“My mom was a bartender for a long time in Bandera when we were kids,” she explains, waxing nostalgic and bittersweet in equal measures, “so we spent a lot of times in bars and dancehalls.”

Her older sister — aka the “white sheep” of the bunch — managed to grow up and out of that world. Not so Robyn and her two older brothers, Bruce and Charlie Robison. Although their dad was a coach and all three of them were jocks for a spell (“I set a record for the most 3-pointers in one game,” she says proudly), one by one they gravitated toward the neon-lit nightlife. But the lure had very little to do with mother (they’re estranged) and almost everything to do with music. In Robyn’s case, it came down to a virtual showdown between her two favorite female role models as a teenager — and pitted against Lucinda Williams, Texas All-American hoop star Clarissa Davis ultimately didn’t stand a chance. As Ludwick would tell Gurf Morlix years later when she approached him about producing her third album, 2011’s Out of These Blues, “I wanted to be Lucinda Williams when I was 15 years old, which was probably one of the reasons why I started playing guitar and doing bad girl things.”

But although getting into trouble proved easy enough for her, young Robyn originally didn’t get very far in her “Becoming Lucinda Williams” manual. She stopped short at the “fall in love with a bass player” chapter and ended up marrying one John “Lunchmeat” Ludwick, 11 years her senior, when she was 20. Her brothers, both already well along their way with their respective songwriting careers, were less than amused. “They never forgave me for that,” Robyn says with a laugh, still happily married 21 years later. “And I don’t know who else they would have liked me to be with — they love Lunchmeat. But it was like I had broken their hearts because I went and married the bass player.”

And yet somehow, they all got through it OK as family. Lunchmeat remained Bruce and Charlie’s go-to bassist, and Robyn even ended up singing on some of their records as well. That was apparently just enough to scratch what was left of her music itch, though, because she spent the rest of her 20s happily finding her feet in a very different world: forensic engineering. “I actually got my degree in civil engineering, from UT, but I started studying this kind of exotic form of engineering under a guy who was one of the lead expert witnesses in the state, and I found it fascinating,” she explains. “Forensics is sort of the creative side of engineering, because it involves a lot of going-backwards problem solving and failure analysis. It’s almost like the CSI of engineering. And I figured out that I was good at it.”

She started her engineering career proper in 1998; a few years later she and Lunchmeat had their first child, sold their small house in Smithville and found their new place in Wimberley. Life was good. And then she got laid off.

“Long story short, mold happened,” she says. A lot of her job at the time had entailed doing residential foundation claims for insurance companies, and in the wake of “that first big mold case in Dripping Springs that changed history,” a lot of engineering companies that did insurance work were wiped out.

“I thought it was the end of the world, because I got laid off 24 hours before we were supposed to close on our house,” she says. “And I took it personally because I was young at the time, and I had a baby and a bass player for a husband — it was fucking scary, you know? We were able to close on the house and move into this very beautiful community, but I had to cash in all the retirement I had at the time. And then we had this total health scare with my little boy, where I’d read a lot of these potentially very scary type diagnoses, and I just didn’t sleep for like six months …”

It wasn’t until then, at 31 years old and at the end of her emotional rope, that Robyn Ludwick started writing songs. And once the floodgates were opened, she couldn’t stop.

“All of these things just kind of hit me at once, so a lot of it was very personal and heavy,” she says of those first songs that came rushing out. “It was a combination of everything I was going through at the time, plus all this other stuff, going all the way back to my childhood, that I had never really got out of my system before because we never had money to get any kind of therapy. We all went through a lot of crazy stuff growing up — a lot of it dealing with our mother — but there was no like, getting anything ‘worked out’ when you were a kid in the 70s; you just survived or you didn’t.”

She remembers being “frightened as hell” the first time she sang any of her songs for her brothers, both of whom were at the top of their game at the time. Bruce recalls being rather nervous himself.

“I think I was scared of whatever it was she was about to do, because she sat me down and it felt like an intervention,” he says. “But then she played me a few songs, and it was amazing. I hadn’t heard them at all before that and didn’t even know she was writing, but they were all obviously really good and very intense — way more than mine. She delves pretty deep into our history and stuff in a lot of them, and they were all so well put together. So it was a really power- ful moment when she played those for me.”

Bruce sings “Departing Louisiana,” a song from Robyn’s 2005 debut, For So Long, at the beginning of Our Year, his new duo record with wife Kelly Willis. Charlie recorded two of his sister’s songs, “Monte Carlo” and “Out of These Blues,” on his 2013 covers album, High Life. He first heard “Monte Carlo,” a song about their mother, when Robyn played it at a Robison family song-swap at Steamboat; after she finished it, he got out of his chair and walked over to kiss her onstage. “Out of These Blues” was a song she wrote for him when he was going through his divorce — but he waited the better part of two years before listening to it, knowing full well how deep and true his sister’s loving but unflinchingly honest words would cut.

“I wrote ‘Out of These Blues’ for Charlie because his whole persona, his talent really, is convincing people that he’s the king of the world, that he doesn’t give a shit,” says Robyn. “And he’s a lot of people’s hero because of that, including mine. But at the same time, I’m his little sister and I know when he’s hurting. And he and I don’t always communicate in the ways that we should, but that song was like an unspoken, you know, ‘I’m hurting because I know you’re hurting, and this is my homage to you … this is me saying I love you, but it’s also about how fucked up you are!’”

Par for her course, Ludwick pulls no punches on the new Little Rain, her fourth album and second produced by Morlix. And no target, no matter how dear to her heart, is too close to home. In “Heartache,” for instance, she addresses head-on some of the most personal struggles that come with the territory of spending more than 20 years married to your best friend. “It’s been so long now, forgot how sweet love once was,” she sings with frustrated anguish. “I hope you’re picking up what I’m putting down/I’m growing tired of all this round and round and round and round …”

“In a way, it’s kind of fucked up that that’s the only way I can communicate sometimes,” she admits with a laugh. “I should be able to just go, ‘This is what I need and what I want and what hurts me,’ but I can’t because I’ve got all these walls and shit. But music is my way of breaking those down, and sharing with people that think I have this really tough exterior or that I have the world by the balls — that I really don’t. I’m struggling and battling things just like every- body else.

“A lot of my songs, starting from my first record through to this one, are all sort of an amalgam of my past,” she continues. “And maybe they’re not all about me in particular, but there’s a lot of family stories and a lot of underdog stories. Like ‘Longbow, OK,’ which is about a young girl in a small town with no options and lot of difficult adult situations around her, and she’s a total survivor. All of that is a lot like my life, except that I was never actually molested. So I’ll go to extremes like that sometimes; it’s like making a movie — you have to have a balance. But overall I’d say it’s about 75-percent fact and 25-percent fiction.”

Although Little Rain has only been out since mid July, Ludwick already has her next record — a duet album with Australian singer-songwriter/guitarist/producer Bill Chambers (father of Down Under Americana star Kasey Chambers) in the can. “We still need to do some overdubs, but it’s pretty much done,” she says. “We did half of it in Australia back in January, and finished it in May at 12th Street Sound in Austin when he was in town.” Tentatively titled Mr. Saturday Night, she expects it’ll be out in early 2015.

“Bill and I met a few years ago when he was in Austin producing an Australian singer-songwriter who was a fan of mine,” she says. “The guy wanted me to sing on his record, and I wasn’t sure at first, but I did it to meet Bill because I was such a huge Kasey Chambers fan since the ’90s. After that we kind of kept in touch and came to realize we had a lot in common; it’s funny how you tend to relate very quickly to other musicians who come from a musical family. Because it can be pretty tough, you know? It’s a curse and a blessing.”

Indeed, Ludwick admits that from day one, she’s made a concerted effort — “almost to the point of professional suicide” — to not lean or bank on the Robison family name in regards to her music. “I love where I’m from, and my brothers have always been encouraging and supportive, but I just went way beyond what probably anybody else would to make sure that, in my mind, nothing was ever handed to me when I got up onstage,” she says. “I was that way to the point of just completely neurotic behavior, but it was really important to me. So when people found out and would come up and say things like, ‘My gosh, I had no idea,’ it always made me so happy. And then I would start gushing with pride that I was part of this musical family, because I was able to sort of be independent and on the same playing field.”

The fact is, though, that for as long as she’s been writing songs, making records, and playing on stages as far from home as Australia and all over Europe, Ludwick’s not only proven she can keep up on that same playing field as her older brothers, but do it all while also juggling the responsibilities of a demanding day job. Not long after the lay off from her first engineering job that sparked her songwriting career, Ludwick found gainful employment with another engineering company.

“The nice thing about having my engineering career is, it has really allowed me the freedom and ability to say ‘no’ to a lot of things in the music business,” she says. “And sometimes that’s a powerful thing — to not have to fall into the habit of, you know, doing every gig. I think that’s actually helped me get to where I am now as fast as I have, because perception can really be a huge part of this business.

“But at the same time, though, sometimes I do find myself wondering, ‘God, what could I do if I actually had all that extra time to write? How far could I go then?’” she admits. “And it’s getting to the point where things are really starting to happen for me, and on the engineering side they’re starting to be like, ‘We’re not really cool with you leaving six times a year to go touring outside of the country.’ So, maybe it’s a sign: Do I give up opportunities and play it safe, or take a leap of faith?”

That’s the question Ludwick leaves on the table at the Devil’s Backbone. Two weeks later, on July 3, she reports back via email with her decision.

“Guess what? I quit last week — how’s that for a plot twist?” she writes with a smiley. “Brave or stupid? Only time will tell.” - Lone Star Music Magazine, Richard Skanse


Still working on that hot first release.



Robyn Ludwick did two things that will forever imprint her career: She chose not to use her illustrious maiden name, Robison, and she waited until she was good and ready to seriously pursue music.

Growing up in Bandera, Texas with her two brothers and sister, some of Robyn's earliest memories were those falling asleep across folding chairs in Texas dancehalls where her grandparents danced to live music every weekend. Or running barefoot through Bandera's Purple Cow, where her mother tended bar as "Whiskey River" and "Rolling with the Flow" played for the millionth time on the jukebox. "Where I come from, music was always there…my father told me that they set up my crib at Floore’s Country Store so that they could see Willie Nelson play."

Teaching herself play to the guitar at age 15, Robyn's influences were far beyond her years (Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris) listening to albums already 20 years old. As a teenager, she was slipping off to Live Music Capital Austin, Texas every weekend to hear music. Inevitably, Robyn moved to Austin immediately after high school and soon married Austin bassist John Ludwick.

After receiving a Civil Engineering Degree from The University of Texas, a set of intense life changes woke Robyn’s sleeping songwriter at age 30. "It just pretty much poured out at that point. I guess it was time, you know." Robyn dove headlong into her craft, taking on a music career that she feared would be overshadowed by the wealth of family talent that came before her (older brothers Charlie and Bruce Robison and in-laws Kelly Willis and Dixie Chick Emily Robison).

But in time, Robyn's songwriting soon came to the forefront, with cuts appearing on brother's Charlie and Bruce as well as sister-in-law Kelly Willis 2013 and 2014 releases, earning her the “most formidable writers of the Robison’s” stamp by Lone Star Music Magazine.

Critically acclaimed Out of these Blues, produced by Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams), received numerous accolades including 2011 Top 10 Album honors from Austin City Limits, No Depression, Texas Music Magazine and 93.3 KGSR as well as Best Album of the year by the Texas Music Scene, No Depression’s Best Female Musicians and nominations for Best Female Vocalist and Best Singer-Songwriter-Folk at the Lone Star Music Awards.



Little Rain, produced by Gurf Morlix, is slated for a July 15, 2014 release. Robyn, crowned the “Queen of Modern Texas Country Soul” by No Depression and called “The Best of Americana and The Best in Texas”.        


Band Members