Joe Robinson is considered uniquely gifted as a virtuoso guitarist and singer/songwriter. He walks a tightrope between the instrumental music that has put him in the spotlight and a unique fusion of vocally based rock, blues, jazz, and R&B that is entirely his own.
Born in the backwoods of Temagog, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, Australia, his six-string ability and compositional insight have already earned him a worldwide following.
Robinson started playing guitar at age nine, abandoning the piano lessons he’d been taking for the past three years. He quickly outpaced his guitar instructor and began educating himself via the Internet. At just 13 years old, he won the Australian National Songwriting Competition.
Within a couple of years he was touring regularly and sharing stages with artists such as Tommy and Phil Emmanuel, both of whom served as mentors. He released his first album of original material, Birdseed, in 2005 at age 15.
When a 16-year-old Robinson burned through a Chet-inflected medley of “Day Tripper” and “Lady Madonna” at the opening round of the 2008 Australia’s Got Talent television series competition, the entire house—including the judges— gave him a standing ovation. He went on to win $250k with his take on Tommy Emmanuel’s arrangement of “Classical Gas.”
Tommy Emmanuel then invited him to Nashville, where among other things he hooked up with Brad Paisley’s producer Frank Rogers, who helmed his 2009 release, Time Jumpin’. That same year, Robinson was awarded the title of “Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World” at the World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood.
He has also performed at Bonnaroo, and was voted “Best New Talent” in the Guitar Player Readers’ Poll.
Robinson has spent the last few years touring North America and abroad (China, Japan, Europe, and Australia) playing festivals and headlining clubs, which has enabled him to define himself as a budding world visionary. Displaying his virtuosity on electric as well as acoustic guitar, Robinson landed a coveted spot as one of Australian Guitar Magazine’s Top 50 Best Guitarists.
photo credit: Alison Hasbach