Meet the Artists – The Nebraska Project: Blake Robinson

10805586_754535341267373_1239525182214962403_nThe Nebraska Project stemmed from a conversation between musicians. Nebraska has always popped up on lists for songwriters as a lo-fi, stripped down masterpiece of sorts. Something that inspired them both in a writing and recording sense. With a focus on songwriting more so than production, Springsteen is able to portray this haunting and dark portrait of a number of characters in a moving and beautiful way. I hope that by shedding the light on some of the songwriters involved in this project perhaps an broader audience will find a new songwriter they enjoy, and thus the cycle will continue and the web will grow. Today we highlight Blake Robinson, who took on “Highway Patrolman” from the record.

1) So who are you, what do you do, where are you from, what style of music do you play? The whole shebang, introduce yourself to the fine folks reading.

BR: My name is Blake Robinson. I have been a full-time professional musician for the last ten years or so. I live in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and spend an average of 264 days a year entertaining tourists, playing mostly cover songs mixed with a few originals. I grew up in this area and I play a lot of old songs, unaccompanied…folk, bluegrass, country and rock. I guess I could be accurately labeled as an “Americana” artist.

2) How did you come about this Springsteen tribute project? Why are you involved and how has the music of The Boss come to influence you are a songwriter or musician?

BR: I’m really not sure…I found the Facebook page, somehow. In looking back I see where you  posted to the page a couple of days before I did. I must have seen your comment in my newsfeed, and was immediately interested in participating. I’ve always loved the “Nebraska” album, and it’s always been my favorite of Springsteen’s. I’ve self-produced three albums worth of home recordings, myself, and I am a sucker for demos. I love well crafted, professionally produced albums as much as anyone, but also seem to have a fondness for “homemade” tracks more than most other people that I am aware of. Springsteen set the bar for this kind of approach for my generation, in my opinion.

His 3 to 4 hour long performances have – incidentally – had an impact on me as a performer, as well. I’ve always had him in the back of my mind through the last 15 years of performing, rarely letting my own shows run under 3 hours. I don’t consciously think about it much anymore, but I know that “The Boss” influenced my live performance work ethic, from the start of my music career until now.

3) A big part of this is the bringing together of a community of musicians both locally and nationally. How do you think the community aspect of this project impacts you as a songwriter? How do you feel you fit into your community of musicians or is there a substantial change you have witnessed lately?

BR: The “music scene” in my particular geographical region is almost non-existent, in spite of the fact that there are countless opportunities for a tourist to hear live music, depending on the season. If I can explain…I play 7 nights a week from mid-May through mid-August, and again from the first of September through Thanksgiving. There is a similar stretch during the Spring Break/Easter holidays and Christmas through New Year’s. Other than that, weekends are the only time work is available, for the most part. Most working musicians in this county follow similar schedules, and most perform at dinner theaters or theme parks.

The other venues that provide live music usually cater to a rotating cast of musicians from the Knoxville area that make the hour drive up to play in the handful of clubs here. While there is some interaction, there is also quite a separation between those of us who live here and those who come in to play these small venues, and playing in Knoxville and other areas in the region is a rare treat for many of us, because they have their own small scenes that book and promote those who live in or focus on particular cities. The East Tennessee “music scene” is pretty splintered, in my opinion. There are lots of small towns and a few medium-sized towns that might as well be a thousand miles from each other. There are a few great festivals in the Spring, but that’s mostly acts from around the country coming into the region. And that is why this project and interaction through social media is so valuable to me!

Social media provides a window into other scenes that I would normally not have access to. I think it’s amazing that I can be a part of this project, because 15 years ago I would have never even had any interaction with anyone in the New England area. As it stands, however, I’ve actually become friends with several people involved in your local music scene via the Internet. It’s a very cool thing, and you have a very unique scene there that seems to be a healthy base for our kind of music. I’m glad to be connected to it in any way, and happy to have been welcomed aboard for this project.


Check out Blake on Facebook:

and YouTube: