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Feature: ANDYLAND - An Amalgam of Music (Brontosaurus Records)

Like many teenagers influenced by The Beatles, Kinks and Rolling Stones, Andy Robinson started a garage band in the 1960s. They were called The Empty Set.

The Empty Set: Mark Wittenberg, Bill Manning, Robinson, Bill Weisinger.

Fast forward to 1970, Robinson, Wittenberg and Manning partner up with Mick Garris and Bill Birney to form the San Diego band Horsefeathers (sample "The Zoo Song").

Horsefeathers: Manning, Robinson, Wittenberg, Birney and Garris
(Photo Richard Alden Peterson)

"Prog(ressive) rock was never hugely popular and our timing was especially bad," recalls Robinson. "Punk rock was on the rise, so we lasted about 15 minutes in LA."

After they split up, he formed a splinter group called The Earthlings ("Second Serenade") with Birney, and Richard Matthew.

In 1979, Robinson was performing with a new wave, pop band called Elton Duck.

Elton Duck days: Robinson on dulcimer, Micki Steele on bass
(Photo Kelli Thompson)

Frontman Mike McFadden and Mike Condello (lead guitar) recruited Robinson, who in turn recommended Micki Steele (bass guitar). They played the Troubadour and opened for acts like The Plimsouls, Dwight Twilley, and The Tubes.

After Arista shelved a 12-song album by "The Decoys" (producer Clive Davis' preferred name for the band), Steele left for The Bangles and Robinson moved on to the synth-rock band Invisible Zoo.

Following one "particularly ear-splitting rehearsal," Robinson quit the Zoo and began focusing on acoustic music with Betsy Gerson, Russell Battelene and Michael O'Leary in the folk-pop group Different World.

"We signed to Vanguard Records, but like many groups, had more critical acclaim than financial success," admits Robinson.

Diving deeper into the dulcimer scene, he formed The Questionaires ("Mr. Fun Loving") with Laura Kass on violin and former Duck bandmate Condello on mandolin. Google Alert: A recently-found recording may soon surface on YouTube!

Then came THE ANDY ROBINSON BAND fueled by musicians he always wanted to play with -- Babs Parent, Scott Colby, Thom Britt and his brother Doug, who also produced the self-titled album.

In 2004, Robinson released EXOTIC AMERICA on his own Brontosaurus Records label.

His next album, MUSIC BUCKET, followed in 2011 and the track "The Open Door" was nominated for Best New Age Song by the Independent Music Awards.

Tinkersmith: Ira Moskowitz, Robinson, Sally Tinker, Jeff Smith
(Photo Ashley Noble)

Today, Robinson juggles teaching between rehearsals and gigs with Andy Robinson & Friends, improv trios Berserkus! and Music Hall, and the quartet Tinkersmith.

His latest album is an amalgam of beat, bluegrass and rock.

(Photo/Artwork Rita Hoffman)

"I've played all kinds of music," Robinson says, "but when I sit down (to compose), I don't really think much about it. The stuff that you love, it just comes through you."

To hear music the way Andy Robinson does, take a trip to ANDYLAND.

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