American blues and soul singer, Robert Finley, is making his first visit to the UK next week. Known for his incredible back story, piercing voice and guitar playing skills, Finley received critical acclaim for the album he released last year, ‘Goin Platinum,’ a collaborative effort with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
Finley originates from rural Louisiana and his fascinating back story includes a stint in the army during the 1970s when family tragedy struck – the death of his father meaning that he needed to start earning a wage. Stationed out in Germany in the forces where he was trained as a helicopter technician, he came to the attention of a band leader who was short of a guitar player. For the next couple of years, Finley got to play at US bases throughout Europe, performing self-penned numbers as well as covers by James Brown, the Temptations, BB King and the Staple Singers.
Eventually returning to his hometown of Winnsboro, Finley became somewhat disillusioned with the unreliability of musicians who didn’t have the same discipline as former army colleagues, so he took up carpentry. However, his failing eyesight was fortuitous in one way as it proved to be a catalyst for his return to a musical career. Spotted while busking in Arkansas by a member of the non-profit organisation, the Music Maker Relief Foundation, he first got to release a low key debut album, before a friend of Dan Auerbach sent him a clip of Finley playing. This led Auerbach to sign him to his Nashville label, Easy Eye Sound, pairing him with some of the best southern soul and R&B session musicians for the recording of the highly lauded ‘Goin’ Platinum’ record.
“I realised very quickly Robert’s capable of doing so much more than old blues songs,” Auerbach says. “He could do a wide range of things very easily. He’s a blues guitar player but when he puts his guitar down, you could set him in front of an orchestra and he would sing just as good as Ray Charles on the first take.”
The ‘Goin’ Platinum’ album features songs co-written by Auerbach with luminaries such as John Prince and Nick Lowe, with Robert Finley as the vocal anchor.
Robert Finley Tour Dates:
MON Nov 26 – Bush Hall, London
TUE Nov 27 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
WED Nov 28 – Band on the Wall, Manchester