Ain't But a Minute
SCENE SCRIBE By Michael Swanger scenescribe@McHsi.com 'Ain't But A Minute' is gratifying tale of Michael's life, career It's a long way to Nashville, but after listening to Robby Michael's debut album, "Ain't But A Minute," you get the feeling that anything's possible for this talented country music crooner from Carlisle. Released independently two weeks ago, after three painstaking years of work, "Ain't But A Minute" is a confluence of popular, traditional and outlaw country music styles that is sure to quench the musical thirst of a variety of country music fans. Add to that Michael's easy, baritone singing voice (think Garth Brooks, Jamey Johnson and his hero, Johnny Cash); good musicianship and quality production (Capp Audio Productions in Norwalk); and an ability to write songs steeped in the country music canon - patriotism, family and raising hell - and you have the makings of one of the best locally-produced country music albums in recent memory. "Making the record has been a long, drawn out process. To be honest I could of waited to make it even better, but I wanted to get the ball rolling," said the 28-year-old stay-at-home-dad, husband and full-time musician. The ball started rolling at a young age for Michael. His father was an aspiring singer and weaned his son on singer-songwriters Jim Croce, Bob Seger and Jackson Browne and country music rebels Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. "I'm doing what he always wanted to do," Michael said. But like his father, family obligations took precedence over Michael's music career for a while. He and his wife have three young children and it wasn't until Michael made the decision to pursue music full-time that he was able to find balance in his life. "The kids love that I'm a singer. They know all the words to my songs," he said. Family plays a big role in Michael's life as well as "Ain't Nothing But A Minute." The title track was inspired by a conversation Michael had with his father about how fast his children were growing up. "He said, 'ain't nothing but a minute boy,' and that line stuck with me. I got home and wrote it in about 40 minutes. That was my favorite writing experience and dad's very proud of that one," Michael said. Michael's brother, an Iraq War veteran, was the inspiration for the patriotic ballad, "Brother in Arms," as were his wife and children on "Boy To A Man," the first song Michael wrote. "I'm extremely grateful for the people in my life," he said. Most of the songs on "Ain't But A Minute" were written a few years ago while Michael was rediscovering his country music roots. After playing in an alt-rock band, Michael shifted to country music four years ago - about the same time he started playing guitar - and has never looked back. "The rock lifestyle was a little heavy at times," he said. "I'm a laid-back guy who always liked country music, so it was an easy transition for me." Though Michael has found his musical home, he admits that making a living playing the music he loves is no picnic. For a state whose culture is steeped in country music, he said it is surprisingly difficult to secure gigs. "We have to play a little classic rock from time to time," Michael said. "You say 'country' to a bar owner, and he shivers. But we always have a good crowd. If it's good, it doesn't matter what genre it is." Michael is crossing his fingers that "Ain't But A Minute" will receive some commercial radio airplay. Last week, he mailed copies of his new album to several local country music DJs. "It's hard to get on the radio around here. Maybe they'll see this story and give it a listen," he said. Meanwhile, Michael is dedicated to developing a loyal following one fan at a time and hopes that they take something meaningful away from his music. "I want them to listen to it and maybe think about their family or the people who serve our country and how life flies by," he said. "Or just dance." CV Caption: Robby Michael performs Saturday, April 24 at 9 p.m. at Joker's in Ankeny, 1509 S. Ankeny Blvd. Admission is free.