Bring your chairs to the Town Center and listen to the music of J. Robert who has been hailed as “Mr. Florida.” With his steel pan and fiddle, you will hear the likes of cool tropical jazz, calypso/tourist songs, ballads of the Everglades and in all likelihood, Jimmy Buffett songs. Another treat will be songs from his CDs, his latest being “Steel Away!”
Robert said, “For me, ‘Steel Away!’ represents Florida and the Ten Thousand Islands. It’s all about an easy lifestyle.”
A fourth generation Floridian, he enjoys performing Jimmy Buffett songs, Cajun/Zydeco influenced swamp music, Florida Blues, and original ballads. In addition to performing, he produces CDs for not only himself, but for other artists such as Frank Carroll as well as producing C.W. Colt’s first CD at Robert’s Mangrove Music Studio in his home.
This past Christmas, he produced his own “Blue Water Christmas” CD which is based on sailing songs and the mellow side of Marco. As a result, he is now signed and composing music for the All American Composers Library under the auspices of DSM Producers in New York City working with Susan Bader.
“She does background music for a lot of movies and television shows such as ‘Sex and the City,’ ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘Law and Order’ to name a few. As a publisher she finds places to put my music,” Robert stated. “I’m going back to my violin and guitar and producing CDs of all original songs called ‘Magic Under the Mangroves’ which is dedicated to the Southwest Florida Conservancy.”
His signature sound is known as “Florida Fusion.”
Violin was his first instrument. He says that as a kid, he got involved with the guitar like other teenagers and listening to Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. He then went onto classical guitar eventually venturing in the fiddle winning a number of fiddle contests. When he was 24 years old, he was warming up for Bonnie Raitt, Charlie Daniels and others.
In addition to having learned his guitar and fiddle, his philosophy is that every ten years, a new instrument should be learned. So far, he’s also learned to play mandolin, bass, harmonica, rock and roll guitar and his latest, the steel drum.
You won’t find Robert in a local restaurant. He does grand openings, weddings and corporate gigs which are very important to him.
“Mitch Peters got me started doing gigs in the corporate world. I get calls from all over the country because they know my name,” he explained. “One of the gigs I’ve performed for is the Florida Hardware Dealers and this is our 20th year together. We take all their products at the end of the week and all the money goes to St. Pete’s Children’s Hospital and it’s a big deal. A minimum of $50,000 is donated every year and I’m proud to be part of that. Every five years I do a birthday party in Manchester, England which I recently returned from for Derek Anderson. It started when he was 60 years old. I won’t tell you how old he is now. That’s only one of the types of performances I’m asked to do.”
He mentioned meeting his music friends from the 70s. They got together in Nashville, Tenn. at an award winning studio and produced and recorded what Robert called “the best in honky tonk gospel.” It was recorded with the TarwaterBand, a country group of musicians.
When discussing his future, Robert said, “Mangrove Music Studios and production and writing is what I see for the future. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities. There is some real great talent out there, and what I’d like to do is capture, record and help people develop their songs and hopefully get them to big ears and publishers. Because I’ve spent all my time performing, I have the experience to lend experience not only as an instrumentalist but as a sound designer and producer. Hopefully that’s what I’ll be doing in the next 10 or 20 years.”
J. Robert will perform at the gazebo in the Town Center from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday. For a listening preview of his many CDs, visit www.jrobert.net. CDs can be purchased on www.CDBaby.com as well as at the Mangrove Gallery in Marco Town Center, Marco Island Florist, the Snook Inn, and both Marco Island Book Stores.