Mike Robertson

My personal influences as a bassist were players like Phil Lesh, Stanley Clarke, and Jaco Pastorius. I loved the energy and sheer drive on Stanley's "School Days" (sp?) album, the relaxed intelligence and sometimes almost invisible strength of Phil's underlying lines, and was dazzled by Jaco's technique, most especially on the early-mid Joni Mitchell albums, where I more than once mistook Jaco's tone for a horn section.

On a more personal note, while first learning to play bass, I was influence by the bass work on Taj Mahal's album "Mo Roots" (sp?). Though I don't know who the bassist was, I found the style of that album speaking to me. I thought, "I can learn to do that!" I then came to appreciate that was Taj's style and possibly even his mission as an artist: to express beauty so simply that it is accessible to everyone. A few years later I met Taj when he walked into a local club in Columbia. I approached him - I was shy - and thanked him for his beautiful work and the effect it had on me. He set down his guitar and without even taking off his coat, sat down and talked with me for close to twenty minutes about the importance of authentically expressing the emotions behind folk music and the meaning it gives people. His eyes gleamed, his smile was beautiful, his soul absolutely shined for me. Then he thanked me for letting him know his work inspired me, and left to set up for the gig.

2008 Belltown Records, Inc.

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I haven't been privileged to connect with a major artist like that since, but that experience stayed with me and I feel it has informed my work. I have stayed connected to folk music as much as possible, but not exclusively, and have always tried to stay mindful of the emotion behind the music and what it means to me and if possible, to others.