Robert Finley

Robert Finley

When you’ve been making music for as long as Robert Finley has, you know that the key to success is in your instincts. You learn to trust your gut, you learn to trust your ear, and most of all, you learn to trust your company. Fortunately for us, here in 2017 Mr. Finley has all three in spades.

The singer lives in the tiny, forgotten town of Bernice, Louisiana, right near the Arkansas line, but in his younger days his music took him all over the world. Joining the Army as a teenager, Finley was sent to Europe as a helicopter technician but found more appealing work as the leader of the Army band, and toured the continent many times over on guitar and vocals. Following his rambling military service, he learned the trade of carpentry and settled back home in the States. He leaned on his gospel and blues songs for a hobby rather than career, and mostly confined his artistry to the streets of the South. But now, in the true spirit of the American Dream, Finley’s music is once again primed to reach doors and shores at home and abroad, as his new LP Goin’ Platinum! is set to be released through Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound this fall.

Finley, who has lost most of his eyesight and was recently forced to retire from carpentering, is a self-taught musician who started writing his own songs at age 10. Learning to play by ear, he developed a unique personal style that continues to serve him well today. “When you train yourself by ear you don’t always get the chords as perfect as they should be—and sometimes you stumble upon a better chord,” he says. “It really is a never-ending process; I’m constantly learning, and there’s always room for improvement. I’ve been playing for about 52 years; if you’re satisfied with everything you do, that don’t leave no room to grow. But the main thing, I got a great team putting this stuff together. God blessed me with the voice, but the connections are getting me in the right place at the right time in front of the right people, so I can display what I got.”

It’s that kind of team-player attitude that has helped rejuvenate his career. A few years back, Finley was playing some R & B songs to a street crowd in Arkansas when he met a member of the Music Maker Foundation, an organization that provides direct support to older and underprivileged musicians. One thing led to another, and before you know it, Finley had written, recorded, and released an LP, Age Don’t Mean a Thing, on Big Legal Mess Records in the fall of 2016.

Brooklyn-based musician.

The Due Diligence

Are You Down is a double edged sword. It's a challenge: Are you down to get down? Are you down to live your life in this moment? The challenge derives from Due Diligence frontman Isaac Gillespie's confrontationally inclusive live show. Shaking, screaming, coming down off the stage and challenging people to dance (individually, at times).

That trademark style was developed doing acoustic tours of unamplified punk houses across the country. Says Gillespie, "You could scream your way through a show if you wanted, but then people just get louder to talk over you. Those tours really taught me get loud, get quiet - really work the room."

By 2011, it was time to make an album and use a band. So Gillespie pooled together talented musician friends to record "I Will Wreck Your Life," a sprawling breakup album. "That album was just the encapsulation of the years I spent in the antifolk scene hanging around former Moldy Peaches and really learning how to craft a song. My favorite thing anyone's said about it is that it sounds like the band playing a pavement cover set."

In 2012 the due diligence settled into a rock and roll three piece and started gigging heavily. By years end they'd recorded the Garage-Psych inflected Let It be Aleady EP. Are You Down develops that sound while also piling on further layers of NYC proto-punk energy and the hard groove of classic R&B. "I like to call it James Velvet Under Brown."

Which brings us to the other side of Are You Down. If Are You Down is the wild night on the town, it's also the morning after. A recognition of the difficulty of life. Are you feeling down, friend? At its core Are You Down is a meditation on the ever-churning cycle of putting oneself out there, facing adversity and rejection and then having to dust yourself off to try again. ARE YOU DOWN???



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