Robin O'Herin: Always alert to the new


LEE -- Blueswoman Robin O'Herin says she was taken aback recently when one of her music teachers told her that learning a song usually takes three years.

"And I said, ‘Really? Three years? No way!' " O'Herin said. "But then I realized what he meant. To know a song, really know a song, so you can play it well on stage, takes about three years."

O'Herin, a Lee resident, will be one of four musical acts playing in Guitar Jam V at the Colonial Theatre on May 18. She is best known for her formidable blues catalog of covers and originals, but she told The Eagle she is constantly learning new songs, new styles and new instruments.

"I have not arrived yet," she said with a laugh. "I still feel as though I have so much to learn.

"One of the things I do is teach music as well as play it, and my students are always asking me about learning how to play songs they like," she said. "So I'm always listening to new music."

O'Herin said she's also been learning how to play the ukulele, which has become increasingly popular as an instrument in pop and rock music.

O'Herin has been listening to uke virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, a Hawaiian many believe has taken the instrument to a new level because of his complex finger work.

"Really, you have to check him out on YouTube," O'Herin said. "He's unbelievable."

O'Herin has dabbled with the ukulele for years, but its recent popularity has spurred her to take a more serious look at playing the instrument, to the point of hopefully using it at Guitar Jam.

That isn't to say she has put her guitar to the side, however. She still plays the blues as well as anyone in the area, and she has been mourning the death of one of her teachers, slide master Bob Brozman, an Australian native who died late last month at the age of 59.

O'Herin said she greatly respected Brozman's ability in a host of genres, including gypsy jazz, calypso, blues, ragtime, country blues, and Caribbean and Hawaiian music.

"He was incredible," O'Herin said of Brozman, "He toured constantly and played all styles of music. He was a great inspiration."

She also is high on another crossover musician, L'il Rev, a Jewish ukulele folk singer from Milwaukee.

"Talk about a narrow niche," she said, laughing. "But listening to guys like this is what it's all about for me. I hope I never stop learning music."

To reach Derek Gentile:,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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