Tribute to Success: Eddie Robbins the Survivor.
In 2012 The Kansas City Star published a story detailing the differences between cover and tribute bands—yes there are some significant differences. The writer, Brandon Reynolds found that their main separator was large and very green: money creates the divide between cover and tribute bands. At the height of popularity a cover band may be lucky to walk out with $400 on a single evening but an established tribute band the likes of Paradise City (Guns N' Roses) or The Soft Parade (The Doors) can walk away with $5,000 or more a gig. If your mind just turned into cream cheese, you are not alone.
On a cold Friday evening, I enjoyed a couple of drinks with my brother at Whip In off the I-35 and found myself listening to Eddie Robbins (guitar/vocals) Cyan Rase (bass) and Jose Juan Gutierrez Jr. (drums) three musicians jamming out a few tunes for the crowd inside the convenience store/eatery. After the set, Eddie came over to talk to me about the evening that saw him pull double-duty as he had also played guitar for the previous act, and put together his set with Cyan and Jose inside a week.
"It's really nice to see music as a job, make money with it," Eddie told me about the various projects he takes on in the city, the biggest one a String Cheese Incident tribute band called The Cream Cheese Accident which is slated for a March/April tour through central Texas and Colorado. The group provides all the elements of the original band but does seem to have a twenty-first-century bite to the music that differentiates it from its nineties inspiration.
What makes tribute bands so successful is their ability to come as close as possible to the original band while also adding their style and personality as musicians to the mix. Tribute bands like the Red Not Chili Peppers are always on tour and make a pretty penny doing so—what else could a musician want?
"It's hard to meet like-minded musicians, I appreciate it when I do," Eddie said of his bandmates that evening and all the musicians he has had the pleasure of working with throughout the years. Currently, Eddie works from home as a broker and has been living in Central Texas for the last fifteen years, and he has no intention of leaving. "I'm like an Austin cockroach, I'm everywhere" Eddie hilariously proclaimed himself and then finished off the interview with "I love to play music, engage with the audience, and have fun."
Engaging with the audience is precisely what tribute bands do best. The music has already captured the audience's imagination long before they have even walked into the venue which allows the tribute group to have their undivided attention, a precious thing in performance art. As culture continues its rapid progress we see an increase in nostalgia, and thus we already see early twenty-first century bands like The Strokes, for instance, get their tributes, it's a never-ending cycle but one that musicians are smart to cash in on, Eddie understands this indeed.
The Cream Cheese Accident begins its tour on March 17t in Dallas.