Over the next couple of years, he was touring regularly and sharing stages with artists such as Tommy and Phil Emmanuel, both of whom served as mentors. In 2005, he released his first album of original material, Birdseed, at age 15.
At 16, he won the 2008 Australia’s Got Talent television series competition and took home $250,000 after performing Tommy Emmanuel’s arrangement of “Classical Gas” in the final round.
Over the next several years, he was awarded the title of “Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World” at the World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood, voted “Best New Talent” in the Guitar Player Readers’ Poll, and earned a spot in Australian Guitar Magazine’s Top 50 Best Guitarists. NPR says, “Australian guitarist Joe Robinson has accomplished what most musicians can only dream of.”
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, allow me to introduce you to a self-taught guitarist born in the backwoods of Temagog, Australia — Smokin’ Joe Robinson. While Joe may not necessarily be new to the scene, the trajectory of his career has only just left the launch pad.
Joe has spent the last few years continuing to blow minds in North America and abroad (China, Japan, Europe, and Australia) playing festivals and headlining clubs. After touring as a soloist for quite some time, Robinson toured predominately with his own trio over the course of the past few years. Wherever he goes, the accolades follow: “Robinson’s technique is dazzling — his bluesy licks go by in a blur, and his harmonic savvy is apparent in every chord he plays,” says the Nashville Scene.
Joe is as gifted with a flat pick on electric guitar, as he is playing fingerstyle on acoustic guitar. He’s also a very impressive singer-songwriter prompting the Washington Post to say, “It’s not hard to imagine him rivaling the popularity of, say, John Mayer in coming years.”
Joe is also a very passionate and enthusiastic educator, which is how our paths crossed here at TrueFire. We feel fortunate to be collaborating with Joe so early in his career and our hope is to grow his library of educational material in parallel with the growth and direction of his career.
On top of all of his musical talents, Joe possesses a maturity way beyond his years and desire to surround himself with people who he can learn from. He’s smart, personable, generous and all around good people. He’s got everything needed to take his game to the top of mountain. There’s just no stopping Smokin’ Joe Robinson!
We asked Joe to answer a few of our Proust-like RIFF questions so you can get to know him a little bit better in his own words…
What is it about the guitar that attracted you to it originally, and still fascinates you today?
Originally the selling point for me was portability! It’s difficult to carry a drum set or piano around, but the guitar is capable of playing melody, chords, percussion etc. and you can carry it on your shoulder. The feeling of strings under my fingers feels so natural to me, I think different people are naturally suited to different instruments, I feel I was born to play the guitar.
Your idea of happiness?
Curiosity. A sense of purpose. Self awareness. A sense of community. Good health. Creating order from chaos.
Whether living or dead, who would you like to have dinner with?
Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Aristotle, Mozart, Alexander The Great.
Name three things a player can do to improve their musicianship.
Establish regular playing & practicing habits.
Surround yourself with better musicians than you.
Continually push yourself out of your comfort zone.
If not yourself, who would you be?
I’m grateful to be me! I see no merit in wishing to be another.
Given the changing business landscape of the music business and how tough it is to sell records etc, what are the positives about the current evolution of the music business?
I think it is easier than ever to record music; it is easier than ever to share it with your audience; it is easier than ever to monetize your craft. I think complaining is toxic and we live in one of the most remarkable times to be making music in the history of humanity.
Your favorite motto?
Never trust a philosopher who isn’t an athlete.
What do you dream about? Literally.
I keep a folder in the app Evernote called “Dreams”, here is a recent excerpt:
In prison in the middle east. Bilal is playing a club show. I’m allowed to go. Door charge is $15. I rent a TKO bag to sit on, guy tries to charge me twice. There is a suspicious girl seeming to stare at me. I sneak past the barricade, down to the front with TKO bag and a huge follow spot comes down on me. Bilal stops performing.
What are your aspirations?
To give back to more people than have helped me.
To live with integrity, leading by example, to inspire, energize and motivate.
To cultivate a lifelong curiosity, to make optimal use of my talents and to develop and use my artistry to communicate behavioral truth.
To make the courageous choice to live in congruence with truth (reality) and virtue.
To become the one of the great musical artists in the history of human civilization.
What one event in music history would you have loved to have experienced in person?
The musical dual of Beethoven and Steibelt in 1800.
Your favorite heroes in fiction?
Dagny Taggart & Yoda.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Your favorite food and drink?
Produce from the small family farm I grew up on and fresh rainwater.
In your next life, what or who would you like to come back as and why?
I would want to come back as myself. I see the desire to be another as self-betrayal.
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with (other than music)?
In life or in music, what is the one central key learning that you’d like to pass on to others?
You become the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with.
Smokin’ Joe Videos