Dinner and a song
Doug Robertson & Co. offers something more than Muzak to the sandwich industry
What would you think if you moseyed into a sandwich shop because you had a deep and unquenchable hankering for a Ruben, and a live acoustic serenade of “Sweet Judy Blue-Eyes” accompanied your meal? It seems like a rather odd version of the combo meal, but discovering potential in odd places is what makes Doug Robertson & Co. successful, teaming up with the owners of Schlotzsky’s Deli locations in Reno to deliver dinner and a song.
When asked about the motives behind what might seem like a odd idea, Robertson is quick to put it into perspective.
“If you can find a niche and an unusual way to get yourself heard—be creative about that [and] don’t just go the normal pathway—you could make a name for yourself where there was none before,” he says.
Robertson says his choice of venue is a response to the difficulties facing local musicians trying to get a foothold in the Reno market.
“It’s very difficult for new musicians to get in, and the route that most people go is they try to get into the casinos, or they try to get into the bars,” Robertson says. “Both of them can be very lucrative or very dead-end, but one of the things that we’ve done—one of the reasons we play at Schlotzsky’s—is that we try to be creative about finding places to play. … We have a product that we think Schlotzsky’s can use. No other Schlotzsky’s in the country is doing it.”
Doug Robertson & Co. is a guitar and vocal trio featuring Robertson, Mike Healy and Kathy Burke. For over two years, the group has been making music together in addition to their other professions. Robertson is a professional songwriter, while Burke is a bookkeeper and Healy is an engineering draftsman.
What would you be in for at a Doug Robertson & Co. show? Their acoustic blend of music offers a mélange of original work and cover tunes from what Robertson calls “the Woodstock generation.” Robertson cites the predominately vocal- and guitar-driven groups of the ‘60s as the influence in their shows.
“Santana is a great influence, and The Beatles, obviously,” Robertson says. “[Crosby, Stills and Nash] are real big.”
Robertson says his philosophy on successful music and songwriting stems from the following recipe:
“The most basic element of songwriting is you have to communicate your idea … You may know exactly what you mean, but if your audience doesn’t, it’s worthless.”
Robertson sees the goals for both himself and the band as twofold.
“One is professionally, I’d love to have some of my songs published and recorded by major artists,” he says. “Locally, I really want to see the local music scene come together as an artistic force in this area, and I’m working with a local promoter to create an annual music festival that features local music, as well as some national acts.”
Find out more about Doug Robertson & Co. at www.nostrebor.net. The site includes show dates complete with a map of the location, photos and information about the Nashville Songwriters Association International, which hosts songwriting workshops for all music genres, from rap-core to country, at Maytan Music Center.