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Songs of home from the heart : Americana folk singer Larry Robinson sings the praises of Southern California


Last updated 7/17/2008 at Noon

He has been all around the world but he plans to die in the old California town he calls home.

Larry Robinson’s latest album, “Old California Town,” is a tribute to everything he sees as great about the Golden State.

Last month, he sat at a table on Front Street Bar and Grill’s patio after a performance. He pointed to the night sky as a perfect example of why he loves the Californian Southland.

Even at 10 p.m. the air was warm, the breeze was cool and the sky was cloudless. Lightly dressed diners chatted, laughing occasionally.

“You know the name the Golden State? I love it. I think it’s the light. It’s also the ocean, the mountains, the desert, the farmlands. We have everything. Small towns, big cities – there’s always something else to see in Southern California,” he said.

That “old California town” his album is named after could be any town in his home state, he said.

Robinson aims to paint a picture with a song, just as any good writer would with words, he said. That Robinson would name a song after one of the greatest Californian authors is no coincidence, then.

“Steinbeck’s Ghost” is a tribute to a kindred spirit, he said.

When he wrote the album’s title song he visualized specific places but refrained from naming them so the listener would be free to visualize their own hometown, he said.

“To be honest, I had in mind Fallbrook and Santa Barbara,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s roots run deep in the region. He was born in Long Beach in 1948 and has lived in state ever since. He has three children, all California natives.

He has visited numerous countries on several continents, he said, when he was working as a roadie for the rock band Canned Heat during the ’60s.

He also spent a lot of time in other states when he was working as a truck driver in his early adulthood.

“Every time I got back to California I remembered how much I love it,” he said.

At least one of Robinson’s children proves the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree. Robinson’s son Evan is the lead singer and songwriter for the Inland Empire indie-rock group War Stories.

So many of his son’s experiences – such as recording, touring and dealing with the broken record industry – remind him of his own, he said.

He recalled a War Stories recording session. He sat on a couch with a friend and they reminisced of their days in a band together.

“We were in the studio listening to playbacks and it was like when we were kids listening to playbacks but this time it was my kid,” he said. “For me it was great. The music changes but being in a band, being a struggling artist, never changes.”

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