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You can’t swing a cat in Music City without hitting a ruggedly handsome, would-be cowpoke of a singer, but--like a parking lot full of SUV’s--there’s only a precious few of them that ever actually get down’n’dirty. Columbia/Lucky Dog recording artist Charlie Robison is one of those rare birds who talk the talk AND walk the walk.

Born and raised in Bandera, Texas in a ranching family that’s worked the same stretch of Hill Country since the 1840s, Robison spent his time growing up on a full plate of time-honored Lone Star endeavors--working the ranch, playing football, singing country songs and raising his fair share of hell.

A stint playing college football made short work of his knees, but Charlie still keeps his cowboy chops sharp on the ol’ homestead--that is, when he isn’t on the road delivering his raucous, cross-cut brand of rockin’, stompin’ country with an in-your-face orneriness that has both set him apart from the crowd and made him something of a lightning rod.

The hard-won success of STEP RIGHT UP (Robison’s second disc for Columbia/Lucky Dog) has kept his ranching time to a minimum of late, though. Charlie’s inspired, lust-in-the-dust remake of NRBQ’s “I Want You Bad” scored a sizable run in country’s Top 30 while simultaneously making inroads on the college radio market, and his spirited, stage-quaking live performances have earned him a fast-growing reputation as an act that must be seen to be fully appreciated.

Embracing elements of such mavericks as Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, Doug Sahm, John Prine, Guy Clark, and even Bruce Springsteen, Robison keeps it all real with a heartland/populist approach that blends his natural gifts as a storyteller with a genuine affection for high-steppin’ honky tonk and a rocker’s instinct to rattle the cage. And if he surrenders now and then to an impulse to poke a little fun with the stuffed shirts on Music Row, well, ya wouldn’t want the boy to hold that sort of poison inside him, would you?

Charlie’s shoot-from-the-hip tendencies may have occasionally dipped him in some hot water, but the upshot is that audiences recognize and respond to his refreshing candor. This honest, “what you see is what you get” stance has helped him to become a true “crossover” entertainer who’s been welcomed on The Grand Ole Opry, “Austin City Limits,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborne” and at a Miller Beer Tailgate Party prior to a Dallas Cowboys game.

Likewise, he’s shared stages with such wide-ranging acts as Brooks & Dunn, Travis Tritt, Dwight Yoakam, Darryl Worley, Sons Of The Desert, brother (and sometimes collaborator) Bruce Robison and Willie Nelson.

Charlie Robison will take a break from the road this fall as he and STEP RIGHT UP co-producer Blake Chancey begin work on his third Columbia/Lucky Dog disc, due for a Spring 2003 release. Also, on September 24, Charlie’s version of “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town” will be included on Sony’s all-star Johnny Cash tribute album, alongside salutes by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Keb’ Mo’, Little Richard, Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart.

In the hard reality of the music biz, the dictate “my way or the highway” (or some variation thereof) is all too often heard from career-shaping ‘suits.’ Charlie Robison held out for HIS way, and his tour bus is gobbling up concrete right now. Catch him when he comes to your town.

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