Tag Archives: DownTown Mystic


DownTown Blog – Rock’n’Roll Romantic: Garry Tallent

DownTown Mystic: Rock 'n' Roll Romantic

It occurred to me that just about everyone involved in the making of Rock’n’Roll Romantic is, like me, a Rock’n’Roll Romantic at heart. I think that’s very cool and it certainly helped make the project come alive. Since I’ve made it my business to help promote all those kind souls who have helped me, my way of “paying it forward”, I wanted to talk about one of them who has been a big influence—Garry W. Tallent.


Garry is Bruce Springsteen’s bass player. That’s something nobody else in the world can say. He’s a quiet easy going guy and you would never figure he was the 7th son in a family of 13 kids. He’s also a great musician and has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Rock’n’Roll. Of course, being in The E Street Band definitely has its perks. One of them is you get to play alongside Bruce Springsteen (not too shabby). His rhythm partner in time is drummer Max Weinberg, not to mention playing with the other great musicans in the band…not too shabby either. 🙂


On Rock’n’Roll Romantic, Garry and Max play on 3 songs—Way To Know, And You Know Why and Hard Enough. I can kick myself for not getting a photo of us together in the studio but I wanted it to be cool for them without walking around snapping pics like a fanboy. It was quite an experience working with them, watching how they work together. I learned a great deal in the process, and you might say, they were somewhat responsible for my creating DownTown Mystic. It’s also easy to figure out why Bruce has been so successful, particularly live. Having Garry & Max as your personal rhythm section has got to be a perk for The Boss as well. These guys can rock with the best of them. 🙂

Vinyl: Garry Tallent - Break Time LP

Now, after many years of playing bass, Garry has put out a solo album called Break Time. He is now stepping up to the mic, both figuratively & literally speaking. This was not something I would have ever expected from him. Singing out in front of a band has got to be a new experience for Garry and it’s been very cool to see it happen. I asked him why now, and in typical Garry fashion, he replied “why not”? Truth be told, he said getting older was motivating him to finally get his music out there. Truth be told, it’s good having good timing too. 🙂


He’s got a built-in audience with E Street fans from around the world and he’s made a very good record for them. As far as I’m concerned, whatever was on the wax when I listened was going to surprise me, and Garry didn’t disappoint. On the other hand, it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise, given that Garry is somewhat of a Rock Historian. Going back to the music that caught his attention as a kid, early RnR, makes perfect sense. He delivers authentic sounding old school 50s RnR in a style that recalls so many of the greats from that period, as well as show his dry sense of humor. Hearing Garry sing Ants In Her Pants is worth the price of admission! lol


Of course, playing in The E Street Band and putting out a solo record has got to be somewhat of a daunting task for everyone in the band. There’s been a very high bar that they’ve set for themselves and then there’s also that guy named Bruce. His name alone brings so much attention to anything in its orbit. That can be a double-edged sword of sorts, but for Garry it only enhances what he’s done. Break Time is a great testament to the talent (no pun intended) that Bruce has placed around himself.


Hearing Garry’s influences gives one the feeling that Bruce could throw anything at him and get 3 or 4 styles to choose from in return. That has to inspire confidence in The Boss to have a guy like Garry manning the Bass behind him. Also, I think it’s important that guys like Garry are around and still interested in putting out music that might be in danger of going extinct. He was an eyewitness to that initial Big Bang and let all that music wash over him . Putting together the crew of musicians to help bring out the authenticity of those influences is also a talent (pun intended). 🙂


If you have the chance, get yourself a copy of Break Time, and judge for yourself. Also, keep your eyes out for Garry on tour this year and if you see him, tell him DownTown sent you. 🙂

DownTown Mystic: Rock 'n' Roll Romantic

DownTown Blog – 2016 Year In Review: Part 2: Rock’n’Roll Romantic

DownTown Mystic: Rock 'n' Roll Romantic

I did not expect DownTown Nashville to get the reaction at Americana Radio that it got. Within the first 4 weeks of its release it had surpassed everything I could have hoped for. Compared to the DownTown Mystic release 3 years earlier, it was a smash! This was a total surprise! If I had serviced the entire panel and worked it harder, DownTown Nashville might have made the AMA Top 40. That probably would have been more than I had bargained for. 🙂

Ok…so I’ve been waiting for what I feel will be the right moment to release Rock’n’Roll Romantic. I could have done it in Sept./Oct. 2015, but it didn’t feel right. And the more I waited, it allowed me to continue to release & promote, getting the songs heard and keeping my name out there. In my mind, the album is a bit intense to listen to in 1 sitting. It’s a concept album that needs to be heard in its entirety and that’s not an easy sell today, especially for Radio. So exposing the songs little by little was a good strategy. I always heard the album as Side 1 & Side 2, so I wanted to have all the singles on Side 1. Every song had been played at Radio somewhere in the world and every song kicked in its own way. So to hear these singles all in a row would be impressive. 🙂

Rock'n'Roll Romantic

In the summer (late July) I finally released Rock’nRoll Romantic as a digital album, with the announcement that the CD would follow in the fall. I figured this would give me a chance to finally get the CD together. The digital release was greeted with rave reviews from the press and occupied the #2 slot for July and August on the AirPlay Direct Global Rock Albums Chart. With the CD now slated for release in the fall, I knew that it was now or never. In September I called Rene Magallon at M:M Music, the #1 indie AAA Radio Promoter. It had been 8 years since I last worked with them at AAA/Non-Com Radio and I was somewhat apprehensive.

Hiring M:M Music to promote to Radio is not cheap, especially for indies like myself. But they’re the best at what they do and they don’t need to take on everybody that calls them. I would be moving up to another level working with them. So I call Rene to tell her about the new CD and to let her know that I think the album can appeal to a broader audience. Especially because of some of the names involved like The E Street Band rhythm section—“Mighty” Max Weinberg & Garry Tallent.

Rene wants to hear the album, so I send her a link and she listens. She tells me she’s very impressed with my writing from what she remembers and really likes what she heard. This is cool news! Rene hears EVERYTHING that’s out there, so coming from her, this is a BIG complement. She doesn’t think it’s an Americana release and commercial AAA is not in the picture yet. Rene thinks it has a chance at Non-Com and College Radio. The idea of college kids listening to the CD really interested me because they would be a good way for me to judge the music as being contemporary or not.

Rene asked me if the CD was ready to go and I told her no, but that I would have it ready for release in October. She was cool with that. She also wanted to know my thoughts about what she had said. I told her that I always have a problem about promoting to Radio, if it was worth it. In the last couple of years I’ve been played on 10-15,000 stations around the world. When you’re talking in numbers like that, getting played by a few more radio stations doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Especially with the cost of promo that’s involved here in the US.

But this is Rock’nRoll Romantic and I’m making a statement with it. I told Rene that at the very least I wanted to establish myself as an artist at Radio with this album, so I need to get it heard beyond at what I had been doing. She agreed and thought that the best way to go was getting it out to Non-Com and College which would require between 500-600 cds. That would definitely get it heard. I told Rene I was in.

As an Artist I still believe in Radio because it allows me to judge certain things with the music. Also, I want to compete in the marketplace with the other labels, Major or Indie. Hiring M:M Music would take me to the next level and up my profile out there. You might think you’re great, but until you go out to where the real competition is, you’re just blowing smoke, right? 🙂

Rene gave me a deadline for when the cds needed to be mailed out and set an impact date for October 10 at Radio. Now all I needed to do was create the cd artwork and get the cds made. The 1st thing I did was change the opening track, adding Way To Know, which was not on the digital release. In July I had come up with a track listing for a possible release in Europe that included Way To Know, which had been #1 there earlier in the year. I thought the track listing was better than the digital release and the addition of Way To Know made the concept of the album stronger. Plus as a label, I wanted the CD to be different from the digital album.

I knew the main part of the artwork would be the inside of the cd, which were all credits. Working with digital releases, the only thing that matters is the cover art. It’s only with a physical release that all the credits can be listed. Everyone involved with the project likes to see their names on it, which doesn’t happen with digital releases. In this case, Rock’nRoll Romantic had 15 musicians who lent their talents to its creation and a half dozen co-writers, not to mention the recording engineers and studios that were involved.

I thought that it was all of the credits I had been putting off but I finally realized that it was all about the artwork…in particular—the cover art. I had been waiting for the right time to put out this cd. Now I had the promotion team in place and all the credits were done. But the front cover artwork that was used for the digital album was not doing it for me on the cd. My graphics designer, Larry Bentley, had come up with a great back cover, which I loved. At the 11th hour I just asked him “to try and fuck with it” (the front cover). Larry came back with 3 or 4 ideas, one of which really caught my eye. I asked him to make a few tweaks to it and voila—we had the new cover art! 🙂

DownTown Mystic: Rock 'n' Roll Romantic

With the new cover in place, everything went as planned. The CD was mailed out and promotion began in October. What I hadn’t planned on was the high number of 4th Quarter releases that were out there, making for some stiff competition. The initial going at Radio was slow, especially Americana. The success of DownTown Nashville had spoiled me. Part of the problem at the format is that Non-Com/AAA stations that report to the AMA Chart outnumber the more Americana leaning stations. This meant that Crystal Ann Lea, who works Non-Com for M:M Music, would be promoting to those Non-Com stations on the AMA Chart as AAA.

Even though I knew going in that many wouldn’t think it was an Americana release, I still wanted to take it to the stations that had supported me. I knew they would listen and they did. In Europe I’m known as American rocker Robert Allen, which is great. They don’t understand the term Americana the way it’s used here as a US music genre. If I tell them I’m Americana, the Europeans think I mean Rock’n’Roll. So it’s kind of weird that not everyone at the Americana Radio format here thinks RnR is Americana, or it just seems that way at times.


After 4 or 5 weeks I had 8 stations playing Rock’nRoll Romantic and finally broke into the Top 100 on the AMA Chart, about half the time it took 3 years earlier. Crystal Ann also had 8 stations that added the CD but by December, she had an additional 30 stations that had it in light rotation. Add to that the 17 college stations that Ian Murray at M:M had gotten and the overall picture was an impressive one—over 30 total Adds and over 60 stations playing Rock’nRoll Romantic! Rene had been correct. M:M Music had gotten the music heard and the result was a much broader audience for DownTown Mystic. What makes this even better for me is that this was accomplished in a very tough competitive 4th Quarter. 🙂

As I said at the start of Part 1, 2016 turned out to be a very good year for DownTown Mystic and I want to give thanks to all of the people at Non-Com, College and Americana Radio for their support, as well as everyone at M:M Music for making Rock’nRoll Romantic a success. Now I’m going to celebrate the holidays and look forward to what 2017 has in store. 🙂


DownTown Blog – 2016 Year In Review: Part 1: DownTown Nashville


It’s that time of the year again when we take some time to look back and assess what we’ve done before heading into a new year. As usual, it’s hard to believe we’re at this point again as another year just seemed to fly right by. You think we’d be used to it by now. 🙂

As crazy as 2016 was for the world in general, it turned out to be a very good year for DownTown Mystic. As the year started, I had this feeling that something “big” was coming. I don’t know why that was, but I could definitely feel it. In 2015 I was focusing on a strategy to release the Rock’n’Roll Romantic album. It felt like the absolute right time for it, but I decided to take a long term approach, promoting digital releases such as singles and EPs to build up to the release of the album.

Now that 2016 was here, I knew I would have to finally release the album. In January, Way To Know was released as a single in Europe. It had been released there in December but an error had caused there to be a problem with the upload to Radio. Luckily, I caught it and had the problem remedied with a new release in January. Way To Know steadily climbed the Official European Indie Music Chart, eventually making it all the way to #1 (here’s a previous post about it). In late January, the video single She Said, She Said, celebrating the 50 year anniversary of The Beatles REVOLVER album, was released exclusively on YouTube.

A pattern of doing 2 releases at the same time was starting to develop. With the release of She Said, She Said as a single, a spring release for Rock’n’Roll Romantic was scheduled. Rock’n’Roll Romantic would be the 1st full album since the self-titled DownTown Mystic album in 2013. Being that it was going on 3 years since DownTown Mystic had been at Americana Radio, there was a worry that Rock’n’Roll Romantic might not be Americana enough for the format. It was around this time that a new idea popped up.

The new idea was to create and release something that would be more conducive to the format. That release would become the DownTown Nashville EP. The original idea I had was about creating a CD to send to the music industry people (A&R, Managers, Publishers, etc.) in Nashville. I had some songs plugged down there and with the sound of modern country going more rock & pop, I wanted to introduce the music of DownTown Mystic for publishing purposes. But the idea soon morphed into creating a CD release at Americana Radio. This would create a story to interest the music people in Nashville and set up the release for Rock’n’Roll Romantic.

Steve, Robert & Paul

Steve, Robert & Paul

I had recorded a bunch of songs with Steve Holley & Paul Page (the rhythm section from Ian Hunter’s Rant Band), along with additional help from guitar ace Lance Doss, that were inspired by the many influences I had gotten over the years from the music made in Nashville. The more the idea for the release began to become clearer to me, the more I wanted to make a statement with it. I needed something iconic for the cover art, something that everyone in Nashville would immediately recognize. Then I realized that I had the perfect cover photo from my last visit to Nashville—the famed Oak Bar Men’s Room in the Hermitage Hotel! It was perfect! I had visited the Men’s Room one afternoon when it was empty and was busy taking photos when the cleaning lady showed up. She was nice enough to take one of me since my selfies weren’t too good. 🙂

Robert in Oak Bar Men's Room

Robert in Oak Bar Men’s Room

Now that I had the cover, I wanted to be able to fit the song lyrics on the inside, but that meant I would only be able to fit 5 or 6 songs. That made an album out of the question and the DownTown Nashville EP was created. I decided to release the EP digitally, but only print up 100 CDs, and make them for RADIO ONLY. This would tie in nicely with the visual on the cover (my graphics guy Larry Bentley did an amazing job!). Meanwhile, the single Way To Know kept gaining momentum, climbing the Top 20 in Europe. 🙂

In early March I mailed out less than half of the cds to less than half of the Americana radio panel. For the 1st time I would be promoting the release by myself and I decided to just concentrate on the stations that had played me before, plus some of the stations that weren’t there 3 years ago with the DownTown Mystic release. I had scheduled the DownTown Nashville EP for release on the 1st day of spring—at the Vernal Equinox.

On March 21st DownTown Nashville debuted in the Top 5 Most Added on the AMA Chart…the 1st time that had happened! In just 2 weeks it broke into the Top 100, something that took the DownTown Mystic release from 2013, 8 weeks to achieve. 2 weeks later it was at #60, blowing by the 2013 release, which took 12 weeks to reach #65!! DownTown Nashville would reach #53 and stay on the AMA Chart for 7 months, becoming DownTown Mystic’s best release at the format yet. DownTown Nashville would also be #1 on the AirPlay Direct Top 50 Global Radio Rock Albums Chart in March and April, beating the mark set by the DownTown Mystic on E Street EP the year before as DownTown Mystic’s most downloaded release on APD!

Meanwhile, the single Way To Know was about to start a 3 week run at #1 in Europe. It was only April and the year was rockin’ in a big way and there was still the matter of releasing Rock’n’Roll Romantic. 🙂

To be continued…Part 2: Rock’n’Roll Romantic

DownTown Blog – 50 Years of REVOLVER

DownTown Mystic: Rock 'n' Roll Romantic

On August 5, 1966 The Beatles released their 7th album—REVOLVER. I bought it the next day when it was released in the US. It was a somewhat odd time for a Beatles album…in the middle of summer. Making it a bit odder was the fact that all we had been hearing on the radio was the single Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby. We had pretty much forgotten that Paperback Writer/Rain had been released months before to herald the coming of their next album.


Adding to all this was the fact that Capitol Records had just released in June, arguably, the best Beatles album to date called Yesterday And Today (the Butcher album). So when I got my copy of the album with the cover of the black and white drawing of The Beatles, I was a bit underwhelmed. It definitely wasn’t as good as Yesterday And Today. Why not? Every Beatles album had always been better than the one before it. How could this be?

About the only thing that I remember about the REVOLVER album in 1966 was my friend showing me the import Revolver album from England he had just got. I had never seen an import album. What was different about it? As it turns out, there was a lot that was different. For one thing the record company was called Parlophone, not Capitol, and there were 14 songs on the album! 14 songs?? We only got 11 songs on a Beatles album! Plus 3 of the songs that were on Yesterday And Today were also on REVOLVER…WTF??

We had no idea that Capitol had been trimming down the UK releases so that they could create an extra release that the band had nothing to do with. I mean on one hand it was great. We here in the US could not get enough of The Beatles. So the more albums, the better!! But it all kind of came to a head between the band and Capitol Records with the release of Yesterday And Today. Again, IMO, the best album the band ever released in the US. It would also be the last US-made album from Capitol.


Yesterday And Today became known as the infamous “Butcher Album”. Capitol really did a number on the band with this album. The Beatles started to get serious, entering their artistic phase with the release of Rubber Soul in 1965. This was the album that Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys had credited with inspiring him to create Pet Sounds. How would you feel if you had created the best album of your career and the Record Company in the US decided to cut off the 1st track of that album? Amazing, right?

So now Capitol Records wanted The Beatles to shoot a new cover for their made up album, Yesterday And Today. Famously, The Beatles did a photo shoot wearing butcher’s coats, holding various cuts of raw meat mixed in with parts taken from toy dolls’ anatomies. It was bizarre, to say the least, especially in 1966. Even more bizarre, a cover shot was chosen and went out on a 1st run of the album before the company stopped the presses on it. That album is worth some $$ if you have a copy.


That “Butchers cover” made its point to the executives at Capitol and Yesterday And Today would be the last US-made Beatles album. Starting with the next album, Capitol would only issue the albums that The Beatles gave them. But Butcher’s album was totally correct. To create Yesterday And Today, Capitol had taken Drive My Car and If I Needed Someone off of the UK Rubber Soul as well as I’m Only Sleeping, And Your Bird Can Sing and Doctor Robert off of Revolver, which was still being recorded when they did it!! You can see why Revolver, as released in the US by Capitol, was a bit underwhelming missing those 3 songs.

It really wasn’t until they released all of The Beatles UK albums on CD in the 80s that REVOLVER started to get the well-deserved acclaim it had been missing. Now you could hear the 14 songs the way The Beatles had recorded them together. Today it is considered to be their best album. Next year will mark 50 years of Sgt Pepper, which got ALL the acclaim, but Sgt. Pepper was not a ROCK album. It was their best POP album.

As a young teen it took a bit to get into REVOLVER. The songs were very different from anything the group had put out before. Even the sound was different. It was clearly The Beatles, but there was something different about them. John Lennon called it their Guitar Record. That was the message that the Paperback Writer/Rain single was meant to send to the fans. You could expect to hear more guitars like never before and rock’n’roll like never before. REVOLVER delivered on its promise.


The #1 song that has always represented REVOLVER for me has been the last track on Side 1—She Said, She Said. It was also the last song to be recorded for the album. This was John’s track about an LSD trip in LA with George and Ringo, along with David Crosby and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, who brought along actor Peter Fonda. It was Fonda who kept telling George that “ he knew what it was like to be dead” because he thought George was having a bad trip, Of course nobody knew that was what the song was about. Clocking in at a tick under 2 minutes with the odd time signatures and the odder lyric “she said I know what it’s like to be dead” was very weird for a Beatles song.

For me, She Said, She Said has always been one of John’s hippest songs. So one day when Ozzie Caccavelli, who was playing lead guitar at the time with The Discontent, said that he had a killer arrangement for the song I had to hear it. #1, because Ozzie didn’t strike me as a Beatles kind of guy and # 2, I couldn’t imagine what he would come up with. What he played me was a straight ahead rocking version that kicked ass! Ozzie’s arrangement was actually more commercial sounding than Lennon’s version and it showed John’s creative genius for writing hit songs, even when he wasn’t trying. I knew we had to record it and so we did!

Earlier this year DownTown Mystic released the recording of Ozzie’s arrangement of She Said, She Said as an exclusive video single on YouTube as a tribute to honor the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles greatest album—REVOLVER.

DownTown Blog – Being #1

Rock'n'Roll Romantic Cover

Rock’n’Roll Romantic Cover

The only problem with being #1 is there’s no place to go but down. I should know. Recently DownTown Mystic was #1 for 3 weeks in Europe and this is the 1st time I’ve had a chance to talk about it. Being #1 is kind of odd because it’s not something you expect to happen. Also, when you say you’re #1, people start to think you’re bragging. I mean you can talk about rising up a chart all you want and nobody seems to have a problem with that. But once you hit #1, all bets are off. 🙂

DownTown Mystic gets a good deal of radio airplay around the world, especially in Europe. But outside of landing on the Euro/Americana Chart in 2010, there weren’t too many charts to talk about there. Last year I decided I would release the Rock’nRoll Romantic album. The big question for me would be how to go about promoting it. I thought I would test the waters at Radio in Europe with a single and released Turn Around and Go.

To my surprise, the single entered the Official European Independent Music Chart at #18 and then #14 a week later. By the 3rd week, the song disappeared altogether. Now this chart is only a Top 20 chart, and musically, it’s primarily Pop/Top 40 kind of tracks (think Euro-Dance, Hip-Hop, etc.). Needless to say, I felt quite good about this since I believe my brand of Roots/RnR can compete, if given a chance. Given that the other songs on the chart were more pop-oriented, I put out 2 more singles that I thought were more Pop (and stronger sounding), but didn’t get bupkis…nada…zilch…zero. This was even more surprising to me. lol

Sometimes things happen…really bad things that seem so senseless. In mid-November 2015 the horrible Paris Attacks occurred. Like everyone else in the world, there’s a feeling of helplessness when anything so inconceivable happens. 9/11 was like that for us here in the US. As an artist you feel the need to create something that can have meaning for people in these circumstances. I didn’t write anything in response to the attacks but I did have a song that was apropos and had a hopeful message. I put it in the back of my mind.

When January 2016 came around I decided to release the song as a single in Europe, knowing that many of the stations that reported to this chart were in France and Belgium. Being that the attacks were still fresh in everyone’s mind, I felt that if I had one song that could indirectly address the situation, this song would be my choice. The song was Way to Know, a straight ahead rocker with a message that doesn’t hit the listener over the head. There’s a subtlety to the lyrics that can be looked at from a number of different perspectives.

Ironically, it had already been at #1 on a US Indie Chart. I had released a digital EP last summer called DownTown Mystic on E Street, which had Way to Know on it. The EP features Max Weinberg & Garry Tallent, the RnR Hall of Fame rhythm section from The E Street Band and had not been released in Europe. So I was bringing my “A” game!

I released Way to Know in January and it was kind of amazing to be truthful. About the 3rd week of January it entered the chart at #19. Here’s the even stranger part for me…there was NO PROMOTION. You can’t hire anybody or email anybody to promote your track. It’s all done by the listening audience who text in their votes. This was really crazy and all happening to DownTown Mystic in Europe. I had to believe that song was connecting with that audience at least on a subliminal level.

The higher I went on the chart the tougher it got. By the 4th week I was at #10 and I was good to go. Now I could drop off the chart and feel real good about making the Top 10. But then it got crazier. The song kept creeping up the chart and now I was starting to get hooked on it. #8, #7, #6, #5 and then to #3. Top 3?? For real?? This is amazing!! Every week people are voting for DownTown Mystic and the numbers keep getting better! 🙂

Meanwhile, I was starting to promote the DownTown Nashville release at US Americana Radio. DownTown Mystic would debut in the Top 5 Most Added on the AMA Chart in the 1st week of release! That had never happened before. Am I on a roll or what? I know it seems nuts to have 2 different releases on 2 different continents going on at the same time but I never expected the success in Europe to continue! I was at #7 when I mailed out DownTown Nashville to Americana Radio and thought it was all over.

But I still wasn’t done in Europe. The following week Way To Know moved up another spot for the 10th straight week to #2 and then stayed there for another week…2 straight weeks at #2 and I was a basket case. I was content with #10 and that was over a month ago! Will I ever get to #1 or will the slow torture continue? The song in front of Way To Know at #1 is some pop song by a French singer, but I can see that I’m gaining on him in the voting.

Week # 12 it happens—DownTown MysticWay To Know #1 UNBELIEVABLE!!! 🙂

DownTown Mystic had been on this radio chart for 3 months and had finally reached #1. Now what happens? I mean, where do you go from #1? I have to say it was far more exciting climbing the chart than arriving at that exalted place…but I’d be lying if I didn’t think being #1 is very cool!! 🙂

Way To Know spent 2 more weeks at #1 and then went back to #2. I knew it was over. I had become an action junkie and now the action was over. OMG! lol There was no place to go but back down the chart. Boo hoo…don’t cry for me Argentina. DownTown Mystic spent the first 4 months of 2016 on the Official European Independent Music Chart, going all the way to #1 against all odds. My hope is that the music had an impact with the listeners and gave them a feeling of something positive against a backdrop of tragic events. 🙂

DownTown Blog – DownTown Nashville


Nashville has always held a fascination for me, long before I ever went there. It’s not called Music City for nothing and I love the city’s vibe. It feels like a small town and music permeates everywhere. There’s no other place like it. Steve Earle called Nashville Guitar Town and I’ve long been a fan of the many great players that ply their trade there. Some of these players’ names are not well known outside the city limits but their presence is felt around the world.

To the world at large, Nashville is a symbol for Country Music, but I like to think it’s a symbol of something more powerful beyond being just an Industry town where Music is the main commodity. The new EP DownTown Nashville is an homage to the city and the music that’s been made there. The spirit of Nashville has infused my songs for many years, as evidenced by the 6 songs that are presented on this release.

Sometimes Wrong

I originally wrote Sometimes Wrong for a female artist, since many of the Divine Feminine would cry on my shoulder and wonder why they “always picked the wrong guy”. I only had to change the words HE to SHE to make it work for a male artist, although it’s not easy for a guy to start a song singing “last night I cried”. But on the plus side, women tend to like a guy who can show his feminine side. 🙂  I recorded a demo of this song with Garry Tallent & Max Weinberg on the DownTown Mystic on E Street release last year. We tried to rock it up but it didn’t quite work for me so I went back to the way I wrote the song. I’ve always been a big fan of Don Everly’s rhythm guitar style and give a tip of my hat to him with the acoustic guitar start. I was also a big fan of Foster & Lloyd and I feel like some of their work rubbed off on Sometimes Wrong.

Rise and Fall

Let’s face it, the Eagles big comeback in the 90s was mostly due to the impact they had on the artists in Nashville. There’s always been a strong Nashville-LA connection, and it’s had a big impact on my music, especially when it comes to guitars and harmonies. A good deal of that comes from listening to those great Eagles songs written by Glenn Frey & Don Henley, as well as their co-conspirators JD Souther and Jackson Browne. Many of their best work elevated things to mythological levels like the Hotel California or the she-devil Witchy Woman. Their myth-making inspired me to write Rise and Fall. I don’t know why, but for some reason, men are drawn to those she-devils like moths to a flame. We’re gluttons for punishment…yeah, hurt me baby! 🙂


Speaking of She-Devils, the guitar player usually gets the girl, but be careful what you wish for. You never know people’s sexual proclivities and our hero learns the joke’s on him in Backdoor. Speaking of guitar players, John Sebastian wrote Nashville Cats about all the great guitar pickers down in Nashville and I’ve always loved the songs that featured hot guitar licks. All those songs left their impression on my consciousness and certainly inspired me on Backdoor. Former Nashville (via Bama) studio ace Lance Doss lent a helping hand on lap steel to bring out the flavor for me. Believe it or not, Backdoor actually started as a bluegrass song. But let’s face it, rock’n’roll is sexier than bluegrass, so I had to rock it out. I tried for years to find the right groove and finally heard a song by The Tractors that helped me to get it right.

Losing My Mind (Too Many Times)

There’s nothing better than writing a song filled with righteous indignation when you can’t take it any longer and need to vent. Losing My Mind is just that type of song and it evokes Steve Earle for me. His Guitar Town record was a big influence and I have to thank him for making Nashville that mythological place for me. I know Garry Tallent played bass on Steve’s Copperhead Road and I remember meeting Steve’s wife Teresa Ensenat (I think she was #5 at the time) in LA, where she had an A&R gig. I could not imagine them being in the same room let alone being married, but I guess that’s Steve for you. 🙂  I like to think some of his magic rubbed off on me for Losing My Mind, which features some killer guitar work from Lance Doss.


Sony Music put out a Country Hits Compilation cd in Germany featuring a Who’s Who of Nashville. We’re talking Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Zac Brown, Dierks Bentley…you get the picture. I had a cd out in Europe via Sony and by a stroke of luck, Believe got the final slot. I later learned that John Mayer had refused permission to use his song, so DownTown Mystic got the nod. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see my name on that cd! It made me want to be in Nashville and was probably the impetus for this release. It also allowed me to hear how my song stacked up and was pleasantly surprised. Of course, compared to my vocal, any one of those other artists would have a smash if they cut Believe. 🙂

Shade of White Bluegrass

I’ve always had a place in my heart for Bluegrass. From Bill Monroe to Ricky Skaggs and everyone in between I can’t help myself when I hear those pickers. As far as I’m concerned, Bluegrass is Happy Music! I love playing it when I get the chance because it is simply so much fun! I originally wrote Shade of White as a country rocker about this painting I have hanging over my bed. After we cut the basic track I realized I had made a mistake with the arrangement and the groove. But the track was so upbeat and sounded so good that I decided to go with the flow. Voilà—Shade of White Bluegrass! 🙂

Steve, Robert & Paul

Steve, Robert & Paul

One of the great things about making DownTown Nashville was getting to record the songs with Steve Holley and Paul Page. Going from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band rhythm section to Ian Hunter’s Rant Band rhythm section is like being in Rock’n’Roll Heaven. It just doesn’t get any better than that for me. Drummer Steve Holley is a NYC legend, having played with just about everyone, including Rock Royalty like Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John. With a resume like that and always being in demand, it would be very easy for him to just give the basics of what’s needed and move on to the next gig.

Steve Holley

Steve Holley

But that’s not Steve Holley’s style. He comes prepared and gives his full attention to the job at hand, including suggestions on how to approach or improve a track. It was Steve’s idea for the intro part on Sometimes Wrong that was so good I had to have it throughout the song. He’s great to watch behind the drums. When the playback comes in the booth I ask him how he feels about his take. If he’s fine with it, then we move on to the next song. If he feels he wants to do another take, then we do another take.  🙂

Paul Page

Paul Page

Now add the Urban Legend Paul Page into the mix and you have the Dynamic Duo. Paul & Steve work so well in tandem that it’s like a fine piece of machinery humming along on all cylinders. Having worked with them a few times now I’m always amazed at the quality of the parts they put down on tape. I mean they’re great players and that’s a given. But what really make them great are the actual parts they create. As a recording artist I’m trying to create magic in the studio that will find its way onto the tape, and somehow, Steve and Paul make it happen in ways that are not planned. That’s real magic! 🙂


DownTown Blog – 2015: It Was a Very Good Year

DMystic E Street Cover

Another year has come and gone. For some, it went far too quickly. For others, it didn’t go quick enough. At any rate, it’s time for a year in review. For DownTown Mystic, 2015 will go down as a very good year to remember. New things were attempted with positive results.

There were 3 DownTown Mystic releases in 2015. Each release came out with a new season, which was a 1st. The Turn Around and Go Digital Single was released in the spring for the Vernal Equinox. The DownTown Mystic on E Street EP was released at the start of summer for the Summer Solstice. And the Soul’d Out Single finished the year as a late fall/early winter release. Why? Who knows, it just felt right. 🙂

Of course, the main reason for these releases was to help promote and get the word out about the upcoming Rock’n’Roll Romantic album. By now it would seem to be common knowledge and accepted practice on the Internet that releasing a full album is a fruitless venture (unless you’re Taylor Swift or Adele). Why release 10-12 songs at one time when you could release the same number of songs over 10-12 months (if you wanted to stretch it out, say 1 new song every 2 months)? The point being that you keep new material coming out regularly to your fan base. An album is one shot and then nothing again for 2-3 years. You could lose fans in that period if you don’t stay in front of them.

Rock'n'Roll Romantic Cover

Rock’n’Roll Romantic Cover

So I opted for the Digital Single option, which is generally 1-4 songs on a release. I did that back in 2013 when I released 3 singles before releasing the self-titled DownTown Mystic album and had great results. The main difference this time was that I was committing myself to help bring Rock’nRoll into the 21st century. So the 1st place I made a conscious effort was at Radio. Sha-La Music makes DownTown Mystic tracks available to Radio on the AirPlay Direct downloading platform. Since DownTown Mystic was listed as Americana, this would mean switching over to Rock.

Turn Around and Go was the 1st release in the Rock genre and the result was very successful, reaching #12 on the APD Global Rock Chart for the month of March. Sha-La released the single overseas and it reached #14 on the Official European Independent Music Chart. So 2015 was off to an auspicious start! The real question for me was what would I release as the next single?

I thought long and hard about it. There are 2 songs on Rock’n’Roll Romantic that have The E Street Band rhythm section—Garry Tallent and Max Weinberg on bass and drums. One of the songs called Hard Enough was on the Standing Still release in Europe. I had deliberately kept it off of the US release because I didn’t want to upstage the other musicians that played on all the other songs. That’s exactly what happened in Europe. All the reviews, which were quite good, focused on that one track with the E Streeters. So I knew what to expect here in the US.

With summer approaching I knew this would be the right time to put together and release the DownTown Mystic on E Street EP. Previously, Way To Know with Garry & Max had been released as a single from the DownTown Mystic album and it crossed over and hit #1 on the Roots Music Report Alt/Rock Chart in 2014! That was a career highlight, so it just seemed like the perfect moment to commemorate the sessions with Garry & Max.

Sha-La announced that the EP would be available to Radio via AirPlay Direct before the release date of June 22. On June 1st the EP went to #1 on the APD Global Rock Chart and stayed there for the entire month of June! This was an unprecedented success with the most downloads ever for a DownTown Mystic release. The single And You Know Why premiered the following week on The Vinyl District, the 1st time a DownTown Mystic single had a premiere. The reviews were terrific, easily making the E Street EP the high point of 2015.

Actually, DownTown Mystic on E Street was so successful it created a problem with what to do next. We thought by September, the EP would have run its course, but it had some legs. We wanted to get out another release before all the Christmas releases took over. So the decision was made to release the Soul’d Out Single in early November, despite having to still compete with the E Street EP. I guess that’s showbiz and not too bad of a problem to have. 🙂

The Soul’d Out Single was made available to Radio on AirPlay Direct in October before the official release date and once again, the strategy paid dividends. Soul’d Out would finish at #8 on the APD Global Rock Chart for the month of October. DownTown Mystic would finish 2015 appearing on the APD charts a total of 10 months. Once again, the single was premiered courtesy of The Vinyl District and the reviews have been very positive.

At this point 2015 had been a busy year, but October would hold a highlight that was not anticipated. In September we were informed that DownTown Mystic’s track No Exceptions had been selected to be in a movie called Cam Zink:Reach For The Sky. But it wasn’t until mid-October, when the film was released, that we got the chance to see and hear just how cool it was to be part of this wild indie film! The best part for us had to be when the ending credits rolled and we saw DownTown Mystic listed along with Pearl Jam and Social D!! We have to give a BIG THANKS to Writer/Director/Producer Ryan Cleek for including DownTown Mystic in his truly remarkable RnR piece of cinema! 🙂

Cam Zink:Reach For The Sky

Cam Zink:Reach For The Sky

The last 2 highlights of 2015 helped me finish the year feeling really good about the future. In October, one of my fave bands came to NYC to play the Mercury Lounge. It had been a couple of years since I’d seen the Band of Heathens and it was a very special night. BOH was as tight as ever, playing with precision and energy. The excellent set featured some new songs from the new album they’ve been recording and the big surprise was the RnR vibe! One of the songs would have made The Stones proud. 🙂

Band of Heathens-Mercury Lounge NYC

Band of Heathens-Mercury Lounge NYC

I caught up with the main Heathens, Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist, who along with keyboardist Trevor Nealon talked about the new recording project. Gordy & Trevor in particular were very enthusiastic about the direction the new material was taking and I could feel their passion for it. After hearing the new songs in their set I can’t wait to hear the new BOH album in 2016 because it will be great to have some new RnR hit the Americana scene.

Robert with Gordy Quist & Ed Jurdi from Band of Heathens

Robert with Gordy Quist & Ed Jurdi from Band of Heathens

The last highlight came the following month a day after the Soul’d Out Single release date, and once again, I was back in NYC at the Mercury Lounge. Another of my fave bands was in town, The Bros. Landreth. Like BOH I’ve written about The Bros. Landreth in the pages of this blog. It had been over a year since I’d met up with them and the 1st person I saw was big brother Dave, who greeted me warmly at the door.

Robert and Dave Landreth from The Bros. Landreth

Robert and Dave Landreth from The Bros. Landreth

Later, younger brother Joey came in and gave me a big hug. He had slimmed down and looked to be in great shape. The band had just had to replace long time drummer Ryan Voth a few days earlier because life on the road had finally taken its toll on him. I asked about the new drummer and both Dave & Joey said to be the judge and let them know after the show. With that I went in the main room to get my place for the show.

The Bros. Landreth - Mercury Lounge NYC

The Bros. Landreth – Mercury Lounge NYC

The band did not disappoint. They were very tight and the guitar play between Joey and Ariel Posen was better than ever. As for new drummer Cody Iwasiuk, I think this was only the 2nd or 3rd show with him and he played like he’d been in the band forever. Afterwards, I got a chance to chat some more with Joey. Like The Band of Heathens, The Bros. Landreth are road warriors and just starting a new leg of a tour. He wasn’t too sure about when they would get the time to record their next album but I hope it won’t be too long. With that we hugged each other, said goodbye and looked forward to seeing each other sometime in the near future.

Robert with Joey Landreth from The Bros. Landreth

Robert with Joey Landreth from The Bros. Landreth

So 2015 is in the books and there was a lot to be grateful for. Looking forward to 2016 with the Rock’n’Roll Romantic album coming into view. Hopefully, there will be a few more surprises that will make the 2016 year in review worth remembering. 🙂

DownTown Blog – Soul’d Out: Brian Jones

Brian Jones Cover DMysticBJCover

In the last blog post I mentioned that the new Rock’n’Roll Romantic album would not be released this fall, as originally planned, but in 2016. This is basically due to the 4 going on 5 months that the DownTown Mystic on E Street EP has taken up. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be another release before the end of the year. To help bridge the gap, Sha-La Music is releasing the Soul’d Out Single, which includes the legendary Brian Jones.

I’ve always been a Rock’n’Roll Romantic at heart. Love the sound of old recordings and the rhythm…it’s the rhythm of my life. There’s a certain sense of style and flair that goes with the music. When you come right down to it, it’s a love of all things HIP—music, clothes, sex, etc. It’s a certain frame of mind that helps to keep one young on the inside, if you follow. There’s a definite sense of “taste” associated with being a Rock’n’Roll Romantic.

Which brings me to “a man of wealth and taste”, the original Rock’n’Roll Romantic—Brian Jones, the man who formed The Rolling Stones. Brian was the trendsetter for Swinging London in the 1960s. It’s been said that Brian lived the life that Mick and Keith only wrote about. For me, it was Brian Jones who caught my attention when I first saw The Stones, just as it had been John Lennon who I immediately gravitated to when first seeing The Beatles. Now there are 2 Bad Boys to idolize! 🙂

Brian Jones

There have been many books written about Brian’s short life and demise. The most recent is Paul Trynka’s excellent book, Brian Jones—The Making of The Rolling Stones. In the UK the book is called Sympathy for the Devil! One of the main points made in the book is that Brian was far more important in not only starting the band, but in the overall British Blues explosion that changed the UK music scene. I found it to be the best account of what it must have felt like being around The Stones in the early days. This was not a bunch of school chums getting together to form a band, but rather a group of individuals who could be very calculating with each other. For Brian, you get the feeling that none of them really had his back. But you also sense that Brian played a big part in setting that in motion.

It feels a bit odd talking about Brian and The Stones as being together because the band has been around for so long as the current entity that it’s hard to picture Brian in this band. When you looked at The Stones, Brian was the odd man out. He was his own brand for sure. Even with Mick Jagger out front singing and bopping around, it was Brian who would catch your eye…by simply standing there! Over the years there’s been a good deal of revisionism in The Stones camp as it pertains to the band’s history, with Brian’s role being minimized to that of a bit player. The truth is something that has gotten, shall we say, muddled.


The real story is an epic tragedy, almost Shakespearean in its unfolding. But as I write in my song Brian Jones, he did not understand his circumstances and certainly never took responsibility for his actions. He was a mojo man who fathered 6 kids with 6 different girls! He had an innate talent for playing musical instruments and he left a distinct imprint on the recordings that he played on. He gave The Stones sound an extra dimension that other bands didn’t have. But he also lived a decadent life, like nobody else around. They had to coin the term sex, drugs & rock’n’roll to describe his lifestyle!! 🙂

There are many who put Brian’s downfall on Mick and Keith. Did Mick and Keith, along with manager Andrew Loog Oldham, deliberately plot against Brian to take the band away from him? Maybe…probably…but the reality was that The Stones wanted to be in the same arena as The Beatles. That meant they needed to write their own songs and become more pop oriented. Oldham’s choice of putting Mick & Keith together as the main writing team has proven to be an inspired one. Given the personalities involved, Brian certainly saw the writing on the wall for himself.

Brian with Gretsch Country Club

My views of Brian are well chronicled so I don’t need to elaborate on them here. But part of the problem is that we always tend to see our idols or heroes in 2 dimensions. We see them live in concert or on TV, and we read what other people write about them. We don’t know them personally and what they’re really like, so we form our opinions based on assumptions based on a 2 dimensional portrait. There’s a whole school of “oh poor Brian” this and “oh poor Brian” that, but in the end we don’t really know him and what he brought on himself.

In his book, Paul Trynka writes that nobody saw much of Brian in the last year of his life. He went on drug binges for longer and longer stretches and was seen nodding out on quite a few occasions, even in the studio when he did show up. Just look at the changes in his physical appearance from 1965 to 1968. He goes from being the trendsetter for the hip and beautiful people of Swinging London to an overweight drugged out mess in just 3 years! Take a look at the photos on Between The Buttons, one of my fave Stones albums. Brian looks totally out of it and disconnected from the rest of the band.

Brian with Les Paul

I think the real reason they shelved the Rock’n’Roll Circus TV show in 1968 (Brian’s last public appearance with the band) was because of Brian’s physical condition. He was a train wreck! Mick, Keith and Brian had already been busted by the police for drugs. They were public enemies to the UK Establishment, so the last thing that was needed, was for any of them to show up on BBC TV (the only TV in the UK) looking completely stoned! If you’ve ever been in a band with one of the members always being fucked up, you’ll know what I’m talking about. They’re unreliable and bring everyone down.  At any rate, whatever went down between them personally is their business.

I once spent an afternoon talking with David Dalton, a Stones biographer, about Brian. He said an interesting and somewhat telling thing—that Mick and Keith would get very uptight at the mention of Brian’s name. I’m sure, deep down, they harbor some guilt. As for all the conspiracies about murder in Brian’s death, I don’t think he was murdered. However, I do think he died of un-natural causes. Actually, I think 1 of 2 things occurred on the night he joined the 27 Club.


Before I continue, there’s 1 thing that can’t be emphasized enough—DRUGS. Since it was the 60s, there’s a kind of playing down of the amount of DRUGS that were being consumed back then. Like tee-hee (yes I used tee-hee), everybody was getting high back then…NO! The amount of drugs involved with this particular individual was almost inhuman. Brian took more and did more of everything in massive quantities. Eventually, this had a serious impact on him. So contrary to the lore about Brian being in shape and getting ready to form a super group with the likes of Hendrix, he had no interest or ability in forming another band.

Brian was done.

Scenario #1…Brian had abused his body to such extent that all he needed was to have a nightcap and then float in his pool, that was heated at 80-90 degrees, nod off and float away. It’s real easy to fall asleep in a pool like that totally straight. Brian may have shown a bit of wear on the outside, but his inside was worse. The autopsy revealed that his liver was shot and that he had the flabby heart of a 60 year old man despite being only 27. I’d say that qualifies as un-natural! This is something that most people seem to overlook, his actual physical condition. He took drugs by the handful and drank on top of it, and everyone thought he was immortal. He wasn’t. There’s a physical toll to be paid.


Scenario #2, which feels right to me, and again, the 3rd dimension that most people don’t know…The Stones had been Brian’s band and he hung on as long as he could until they fired him. He was not going to quit and I think it really bothered him more than he might let on. He had to have known that they were going to play a free show in London’s Hyde Park in a couple of days to introduce his replacement—Mick Taylor. This had to have been eating at him. That event would make his firing official to the world. In his fragile frame of mind, I can see Brian thinking he could give Mick & Keith one final F U and steal their thunder by having his death in the headlines. He played his final card…or chord if you find it more poetic. 🙂

Nobody really knows what happened that fateful night, but murder seems unlikely. It’s somewhat ironic that the conspiracy theories have helped to keep Brian’s name alive and create a legend. One thing is known—in his short life, Brian burned bright and then burned out like a comet falling to earth in true Rock’n’Roll Romantic fashion. 🙂