EXOTIC AMERICA"One of the best debut albums of the year...(Andy Robinson's) debut solo album finds him performing on everything from dulcimer and synthesizers to kalimba and organ, as he crafts a seamless blend of Western and Eastern folk stylings that are rich in warmth and charm, but happily bereft of affectation."
George Varga, Pop Music Critic, The San Diego Union Tribune, December 23, 2004. Read the full review.
"The music is fresh, not formulaic ... The folk-rock songs are versatile, solidifying a soundtrack to accompany moments of listener introspection. The care and attention given to every cut allows each song to stand strong, making the whole an extraordinary collection."
Mary Montgomery, San Diego Reader, January 6, 2005. Read the full review.
"Andy Robinson couldn't have chosen a more apt name for his new album, Exotic America. It is particularly difficult to blend Eastern and Western musical idioms so naturally, so seamlessly, let alone with a simultaneous, synergistic mixing of traditional acoustic instruments and modern electronic synthesizers ... but Mr. Robinson has succeeded here... It's very easy to forget that this is an instrumental album; the melodies and solos are engaging, performed on instruments that one would hardly think belonged together, but somehow they do....Exotic America as a whole is a melting pot of cultural diversity stirred in the cauldron of joy."
Simeon Flick, San Diego Troubadour, Nov. '04 issue.
"Few albums are as appropriately titled as this Exotic America. 'Americana' seems to be a hot genre these days and Andy’s new album is both 'Americana' and more . . . Andy has struck a remarkable balance – fans of pop will love the hooks and compelling melodies and the more adventurous of us will appreciate the multiplicity of colors, timbres, and oddities in the mix... Andy plays acoustic and electric dulcimers, synthesizer, hand drums, Egyptian tambourine, harmonica, cowbell, ceramic toy flute, acoustic guitar, finger cymbals and other percussion instruments such as bongos, shaker, and bamboo and wood chimes. Additionally he throws in stylophone, chord organ, kalimba, and does vocals. Did I miss anything? Wow!
Exotic America is an eclectic mixture of new music, but there’s something familiar and reassuring about it at the same time. For example, the title track conjures up momentary impressions of Phil Keaggy’s work on Sunday’s Child and there’s a multitude of tiny moments throughout the disk that seem so familiar – strands of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Marvin Gaye, and Yes among others; I suspect that each listener will project into the material their own history of listening. However, Exotic America really sounds and feels original and easily avoids derivativeness... There are some especially hot tracks such as the title track and “Children’s Games” featuring the excellent slide work of Scott Colby who makes a return after providing all the guitar work on Andy’s 1998 release, The Andy Robinson Band. (Slide guitar junkies owe it to themselves to pick up a copy of that disk immediately!) ...
The production quality is stunning and you can tell that a lot of hard work went into this album. If you like Americana but wish something more, well, exotic, then here’s your ticket. A solid 'A' effort."
Kronosonic.com, the site of the International Society for Creative Guitar and String Music. Visit the site to see the full review."This album is a real smorgasboard of beautiful melodies and surprising sounds - you never quite know what you're going to hear next, but you know you're going to like it. Tantalizing, original and truly enjoyable!”
Mike Keneally, avant-guitar virtuoso, Exowax recording artist
"This is an incredibly fun, upbeat, infectiously optimistic-feeling CD... To me, each piece is a tone poem, evoking images. My personal favorite, Children’s Games, evoked images of elephants proceeding majestically along. Sometimes the images metamorphosed when I learned the name of the piece; while at other times they didn’t. For example, those evoked by After the Fires changed from general pastoral images to the entire ecological succession following forest fires, helped along by the evolving rhythms and complexity of the music. When specifically cued up, a piece called Penguin called up visions of penguins tending their eggs and young on the Antarctic ice and swimming/flying underwater; did they change when I discovered that it was written in honor of the Penguin Café Orchestra? They did not! Way-cool!
The sequencing of the pieces adds another enjoyable dimension, as the series progresses like the movements of a symphony. Here, the number of levels at which each piece and the totality can be appreciated is limited only by the listener’s imagination. Highly recommended for anyone willing to explore both music and their own imagination."
Kathryn LaMar, The Folknik, San Francisco Folk Music Club newsletter.
"....Moving Mountains is a terrific piece of work! ... it's an instrumental with influences from a lot of different kinds of music. I especially appreciate the hints of world music in there, and find it exciting to hear dulcimer music taken to places it hasn't been before. If that song is any indication, his new album should be a real delight."
Rini Twait, CO
"I have purchased Andy Robinson's new CD - 'Exotic America' and have enjoyed playing it all week at work. It is a delightful mix of instrumentals... When I cranked the volume up the whole office came out to listen! I think it brings the dulcimer into the 21st century with original songs and a blending of instruments that are actually very hard to describe with words. Andy's instrumental experience shines throughout and his creativity is a joy."
Gail West, IN
"I listened to 'After the Fires' four times in a row, and got a lump in my throat each time. It's beautiful. I may have to work up an arrangement of it."
Christopher Dean, fingerstyle guitarist, San Diego, CA
"I love this CD! I don’t know of anyone who plays mountain dulcimer who isn’t submerged in Patchouli oil, so what a great surprise to hear Andy take the dulcimer and make it so hip. Should you ever have a long drive ahead of you, pop this CD in to ease boring miles. It’s very 'Calgon, take me away'. "
Suzanne Reed, performing artist/song-writer, San Diego, CA
On 'After the Fires': ..."Wow, amazing, very beautiful." On 'Different World Song' and 'Nameless Parade': ..."Really fun, very different. Each tune seems to have its own planet ... the joy of it comes right through ... some very fun stuff."
Don Lopez, DJ, Manao Radio 91.5FM, Wailuku, Maui. Excerpts from live radio interview with Andy Robinson, 8-29-04.
"Acoustic music bores me, but this is really cool, and very different … good playing on it and the production is excellent… Even us guys who hack things to death like this CD, so ya gotta love that!"
Terry Myers, electric guitarist
"For those of you haven't heard this yet I highly recommend it. I would call it World Music with a heavy folk influence. Very peaceful listen. Acousic Guitar, Dulcimers, Kalimbas, Fiddle, Harmonica...a variety of non-traditional percussive intruments...even conversation used as an instrument....The production is top-notch."
Mike Musgrove, blues guitarist, as posted on VSPlanet.com
"When I was a music critic for the Reader and the LA Times, people occasionally would ask what criteria I use in determining whether someone's music is "good". . . I first listen for originality. When I listen to Andy Robinson's music, the first thing I'm aware of is that I'm visiting a unique musical space occupied only by Andy… Exotic America is the best work Andy's ever done."
THE ANDY ROBINSON BAND“Fans have been waiting a long time for this, and won’t be disappointed. Babs Parent’s voice shows it’s presence and versatility in Nameless Beach, Scarecrow, Asleep and Awake, Fool in Love, and Rock Too Hard. Andy’s vocals suck you in with an expert story teller’s approach. The album has captured the warmth of Andy’s live performances with a superb job of arranging and mixing. A very listenable album.”
Robert Peterson, Dulcimer Notes, Winter ’98 issue
"Californian Andy Robinson combines a whimsical gift for writing great songs with some remarkable instrumental skills on The Andy Robinson Band. This is mainstream nineties folk music with a bullet and it actually features the mountain dulcimer! All of the tunes are Andy Robinson originals and I challenge you not to smile at "I'm in Love with Your Sister" or examine what you think about [the lyrics] in "God Loves a Joke". The arrangements are very well thought out and provide a great example of how best to use the mountain dulcimer in a non-traditional group context. Andy makes his dulcimer sound much like a sitar, a mandolin or a guitar depending on the mood he's creating, but it never loses its "dulcimer-ness". The band members make excellent use of dynamics and play off each other in interesting ways..."
Neal Walters, Dulcimer Players News
“Andy is really wonderful. The CD reminds me of all those great folk groups in all those folk places in Northern California I had the pleasure to frequent. His sound is made for a rainy day with the fireplace going. He plays the dulcimer with all the feeling in his person. My favorites are ‘I’m in Love with Your Sister,’ and the line about the nuns in ‘God Loves a Joke.’"
Bill Countreman, Carlsbad, CA
"This was my best surprise purchase this year! In Andy's hands the mountain dulcimer takes on many different characters: electric, dobro-like, dreamy, rock and blues. He's joined by Babs Parent (Vocals), Scott Colby (dobro, slide guitar & vocals), Thom Britt (fretless bass, vocals), Doug Robinson (keyboards, drums, bass & percussion) & Mitchell Delevie (Percussion). He wrote or co-wrote all these tunes & his songwriting makes you laugh and lets the daily burdens fall away. "I'm in Love with your Sister', God Loves a Joke", 'I Play the Dulcimer', & 'Nameless Beach' are my favorites. Get this one as soon as you can--you won't be sorry!"
Steve Eulberg, award winning dulcimer player, singer-songwriter, Owl Mountain Music http://www.owlmntnmusic.com/fav1999.htm
“Andy, I played your ‘God’ song today on WMUH. What a hoot! Send me fun stuff like that, and I’ll play it!”
Carolyn Adams, DJ/Music Programmer, WMUH FM, Allentown, PA
“I just got your CD in the mail today. It’s FANTASTIC! My students are gonna love it. I also really like the cover. When it came today I was having a rather tough day, and just seeing the cover brought a smile to my face. Thanks for the smile…It’s folks like you who ‘do us proud’ and make us all look good! This is a fine piece of work!”
Karen Detjen, dulcimer instructor
“Andy is a great songwriter. ‘God Loves a Joke’ is brilliant. I like this CD more every day.”
Mike Fishell, musician, Santa Barbara
“Your playing is incredible, and the production is outstanding. What tuning do you use on ‘I Play the Dulcimer?’” I love the sound!”
Lance Frodsham, dulcimer player/recording artist, Washington state
“I can’t help but get a big chuckle-boner at ‘I’m in Love with Your Sister’. If there were a radio syndicate for really cool music, we’re talkin’ hit single, babe!”
John D’Agostino, editor, Wood&Steel music critic
“We really like your CD for a couple of reasons - you’re a great performer, you wrote all the songs, and it isn’t your every day mountain dulcimer stuff. We love the traditional stuff, but your songs add spice and fun!”
Rita Maddix, music shop owner
“…well produced and original and a joy to listen to…”
Davor Pavuna, Switzerland
“I think this album is profoundly enjoyable, in the way a subtle glance from the right person can make you feel good all over.
Doug Robinson, producer/composer/musician, San Diego
“I LOVE your CD! It is fantastic! Great quality sound, and the whole family enjoys the songs, especially the humorous ones. I can’t wait to play it for my dulcimer playing friends!”
Jackie Marshall, dulcimer player
“I love your record!”
Richard Matthew, Skull Valley, AZ
“Great sounding CD! ‘Flyin’ in Her Dreams is my favorite. Really good imagery, neat key change.”
Jamie Rounds, songwriter/musician, Nashville, TN
“Good stuff on this CD! I particularly like the dobro/dulcimer combination, and the witty lyrics! You should all check out this CD. I really get a hoot out of ‘I’m in Love with Your Sister!’ Great addition to my collection.”
Lynne Smith, dulcimer player
“I’d like to know how best to go about emulating the sound quality of Andy’s album, since it was recorded completely on the Roland VS-880. I would be ecstatic if I could reproduce that clarity and dynamic range.”
Brian Baker, recording enthusiast
“I can’t stop singing ‘Flyin’ in Her Dreams’, and I’m driving my mom crazy!”
Laura Tym, responding to the audio clip on our website
“100% commercial quality in every way, and the content stands out from the commercial background in a way that virtually defines what I look for in independent productions. I was expecting a sort of traditional/folk blend, but that description falls way short of the mark. This music touches so many categories it makes categorizing it pointless. It reaches in and grabs various internal organs - the brain, the heart, and the funny-bone - and give’s ‘em a good squeeze. Inspired writing - the lyrics stand on their own, something you almost never see these days. Masterful musicianship, and flawless production. I am blown away.”
Clay Weston, recording engineer
"You sure make me proud to be a dulcimer player!"
David Schnaufer, National Dulcimer Champion, Adjunct Associate Professor of Dulcimer at Vanderbilt University, Nashville
"This is a trio that plays dulcimers, fiddles, mandolins, and guitars that easily rise above the threat of playing a horrid imitation of a '50s/'60s folksy music thang. There's lots of humor, depair and dark inrony in these sharp lyrics. Somehow I got the funny impression that a few of these songs sound like what Pete Seeger would be doing if he had been born 20 years later and had a lot less sunshine in his smile. Musically, the group sounds really superb. I especially like the edge of the lead vocalist. The harmonies are exceleent, and there is really nothing like the textures of a well-executed string section"
Bart Mann, BAM Magazine, September 10, 1993
"I liked some of these songs. The rest of them, I loved!"
Mike Jerauld, dulcimer player/multi-instrumentalist, San Diego
"A fine offerring. Great texture achieved from all your off-the-wall instruments. 'Flame', 'Asleep & Awake' and 'My First Car' are the ones I naturally go to play over and over. Truly refreshing."
Jamie Rounds, singer/songwriter, Nashville
"I just wanted to tell you how much I've been enjoying the Questionaires cassette. I've benn playing nothing but Questionaires. Not only do I love the toons, but the thing sounds so good. How was it recorded? I thought it would be tough for you to top the Different World CD, but there's something really cool happening in there, and the songs keep taking turns being my favorite. Beautiiful blend of tonalities, strong lyrics, good playing. Great, great job, Andrew!"
John D'Agostino, Taylor Guitars
"'Backbone Mountain' is my favorite. It's a great song. Your songwriting keeps getting better. Thanks for the fun!"
Mike McFadden, Studio City