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Interview: Charlie Robison working on new album, playing Wormy Dog's 20th anniversary party

by Brandy McDonnell Published: August 1, 2012

From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.

Charlie Robison playing Wormy Dog 20th anniversary party
The Texas singer-songwriter, who will be performing music from his forthcoming album, joins Cody Canada & The Departed, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Pat Green and more on the lineup for the saloon’s birthday bash.

When his time comes, Charlie Robison is going to need a big tombstone, and the memories he’s made at the Wormy Dog Saloon are a big part of the reason why.

“Most of the really good ones, you know, you can’t put on the radio or you can’t put in print or anything like that,” he admitted with a laugh during a recent phone interview from his home in San Antonio, Texas.

“I’m just gonna get somebody to put on the backside of my tombstone, ‘OK, y’all, here they are’ and just write ’em all out in small font.”

An Oklahoma music institution, the Wormy Dog is celebrating its 20th anniversary Thursday-Saturday with a stellar lineup of red dirt and Texas country artists: Robison, Cody Canada & The Departed, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Pat Green, Mike McClure, The Damn Quails and Kyle Park.

Robison’s untold Wormy Dog stories stem from performing at the original Stillwater location, which was open from 1992-2004, as well as the Bricktown bar, established in 2003.

“We’ve been playing it forever and it’s just always a blast. … I love playing places like the Dog where it’s real kind of narrow and closed in and there’s the balcony and everything, so it just seems like everybody’s right on top of you all the time. I mean, the energy’s just crazy,” he said.

“There’s a real big backstage so when you’re there with a bunch of friends of yours and they’re offstage, whether it’s Cody (Canada) or Reckless (Kelly) or all of the above and everybody’s hanging on the side of the stage having cocktails and everything — usually there’s three or four or five tour buses in the back — the party gets to be pretty good.”

The Texas country singer-songwriter, 47, will be bringing new music Friday night to the saloon’s birthday bash.

“We’re finishing up the new record right now, so there’ll be some new stuff and there’ll be some of the real old stuff,” he said.

“The Wormy Dog’s one of those places where the fans are so into everything that you never write a set list when you’re there. … You know, you might play songs that you haven’t played in six years or something like that. So it really does truly have that vibe of anything goes.”

The as-yet-untitled album, which he hopes to release in late fall or winter, will have a markedly different tone than his last one, 2009’s “Beautiful Day,” which was written during his divorce from Dixie Chick Emily Erwin.

“This one’s gonna be very much back to kind of the old way. It’s just that with the last record … everything was so happening exactly at the same time, there was no way you couldn’t write about it,” he said, pausing to say goodbye to his three children with Erwin as they ventured off with their mother.

“Hopefully, I never have to write a record like that again. I mean, everything’s great now, but at that time things were pretty raw.”

The Bandera, Texas-bred musician said his goal with the forthcoming album is to make every song a live-show crowd pleaser.

“It’s like every single song on the record, I want it to be able to go straight into the set list even before the record comes out,” he said. “Usually you gotta wait ‘til the record comes out or at least there’s a single on the radio to start playing those songs. But this one is just kind of the opposite of the last one. I’m in a real great place in my life right now and having a good time, and that’s kind of what I want this record to reflect.”

Music runs in the Robison family: Both his brother Bruce Robison and sister Robyn Ludwick are singer-songwriters, too. While he has cut songs his brother wrote in the past, his upcoming album will mark the first time Charlie Robison has recorded songs his sister penned.

“When I called her and told her that I was gonna do that, she got really like emotional about it. She was like ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it,’ even though she’s done so well,” Her record last year (“Out of these Blues”) was like on all these really big top 10 lists and everything like that,” he said.

“There’s these little marks in your life … like the first time you play Gruene Hall, the first time you play Wormy Dog, or the first time someone else cuts one of your songs. And this is the first song that anybody else besides her has ever cut, so that’s a big thing for her … but it’s even better for me because it’s a great song.”


Wormy Dog 20th Anniversary Party

When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Doors open at 4 p.m.

Where: Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E Sheridan.

Thursday lineup: Jason Boland & The Stragglers and The Damn Quails.

Friday lineup: Cody Canada & The Departed and Charlie Robison.

Saturday lineup: Pat Green, Mike McClure and Kyle Park.



by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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