Born in Shula, Arkansas, in 1931, Robert Lowery grew up in nearby El Dorado, close to the Arkansas-Louisiana border. He and his eight brothers and sisters worked on a farm raising cotton, corn, peas, potatoes, and other crops. He first heard music as a young boy lying in bed at night listening to his parents’ weekend parties. By age 17 he was playing guitar, learning a bit from his uncle and neighbors. He’d also go into town to pick up whatever he could: “Every time I see someone with a guitar walking down the street I’d chase him down,” recalls Bob. As a young man Robert moved to Oakland to find work, and he settled in Santa Cruz in 1957. He was a sideman for Big Mama Thornton when she played the Beachcomber club on Beach Street in the early 60s.Share
Robert has played frequently at UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Blues Festival, KPIG Fat Fry, Monterey Blues Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, and at clubs throughout the Bay area. He opened for B.B. King when he played the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.
Robert has also gone beyond the bay area and has played the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Philadelphia Blues Festival, Eureka Springs Festival back in Arkansas, the San Remo Blues Festival in Italy and the Northsea Jazz festival in the Netherlands, among other prestigious gigs. He recorded a television commercial for MCI, “singing about how my telephone bill was too high.” He even played for the inauguration celebration of fellow Arkansas native President Clinton!
Recorded on Robert Lowery’s front porch in 1989, Earthquake Blues features the bluesman telling stories and playing songs on his acoustic guitar.
Recorded on Robert Lowery’s front porch in 1989, Earthquake Blues features the bluesman telling stories and playing songs on his acoustic guitar. His blues is in the tradition of Lightinin’ Hopkins and Robert Johnson — he weaves stories and plays deceptively complex rhythms. Earthquake Blues offers proof that traditional blues is alive and well — and vital — in the latter half of the 20th century.
Thom Owens, All Music
If anyone doubts the existence of credible modern purveyors of Johnson influenced music, they haven’t heard longtime West Coast bluesman Robert Lowery. His “Earthquake Blues” combines Johnson classics, originals and a bit of Lightnin’ Hopkins in a personalized and satisfying excursion into real blues. Recorded on a front porch in Santa Cruz, CA, Lowery’s ragged but righteous delivery makes the music upclose and involving. Most tracks are preceded by monologues that show the tradition of talking blues storytelling is still in good hands.
Michael Point, Pulse