Robbin Thompson update

Robbin Thompson update
Robbin Thompson update
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As previously announced, a musical tribute concert to Robbin Thompson will be held 2/28 at the National. Here’s the latest update.


“No, Bruce (Springsteen) will not be here. That’s the one myth we want to dispel!” says Bob “Rico” Antonelli, drummer for the Robbin Thompson Band and one of the producers of the upcoming show. “He’s on tour and that just isn’t going to work out. He does send his regards.” It’s a natural assumption that he might have shown, since Robbin was lead singer toward the end for Springsteen’s Steel Mill and appeared onstage with The Boss the last time he played Richmond’s Coliseum.


Bob Antonelli 2

Bob “Rico” Antonelli (Photo by Skip Rowland)

Even without Bruce, the show promises an outstanding lineup of guest musicians from throughout Robbin’s career – all helping the band honor their mutual friend. “Honestly, trying to choose who to include has been one of the hardest parts of putting this all together. If we’d accepted everyone’s offer the show would have lasted 8 days!”


The show will be divided into 2 sets with a brief intermission and will be structured similarly to the benefit concert for Billy Ray Hatley, which Rico also had a hand in putting together. Rico (the nickname Robbin “pegged” him with) says they have about 22 songs on the set list. As with the successful Hatley show, Rico says they’ve tried to match the singer’s voice and range with songs they feel “they can carry off.” “Robbin had a set of pipes that’s hard to match.”


That list concentrates on the Robbin Thompson Band years including songs from later albums during his solo career. “It’ll be songs that people know, the popular songs and some that relate more directly to the guest artist performing it.”


The producers are purposely not naming names of the guests because they want to keep the focus on Robbin and his music. “To a person, all the guests have said, ‘It’s not about us, it is Robbin’s night.” There are some obvious possibilities, like Richmond’s Steve Bassett and others that collaborated with Robbin in various groups. “Musicians are coming from Chicago, Nashville, Canada and the western US…all over the country.”


Putting the logistics together, coordinating performers’ schedules, along with the theater’s availability, has also been a huge task…one that’s still evolving. “There are a couple of artists that really want to come – and we want them to come – who have conflicts that will entail last minute flights from across the country. Honestly, with some of those we may not know if they’ll make it until we see them walk through the door.”


Rico emphasized the show wouldn’t be possible without “total support” from the National’s owner, Bill Reid, and his willingness to put this show on at no cost. As a footnote, the National was also one stop for the Robbin Thompson Band’s “comeback” tour in 2010 after a nearly 25-year hiatus.


Band 2

The band at The National. (Photo by Skip Rowland)

Rico and the producers greatly appreciate the volunteering technical crews and their willingness to put in a long, hard day (or more). “Those are the folks I really, really take my hat off to.”


The biggest task of all will be filling the vacuum of the most important person in the room. “Robbin was our lead singer, who wrote all the songs and was our front man. He was the face of the band. How do you replace that?” Rico and the band hope this show gives some closure for his fans and for themselves as well. “What better way can we pay tribute to somebody than to do the thing we and they were most passionate about?”


Proceeds will be donated equally to SPARC and JAMinc per Robbin and his family’s request. With minimal costs for the venue and the crews, plus the artists donating their talents, Robbin will once again be making it a “Real Fine Day” for RVA’s future.


Tickets are available via the National’s box office and to date sales have been pretty brisk. More than a third of the available seats sold in the first 4 days.


Here’s a video of “Bright Eyes” from the band’s 2013 show at the National (shot by Diane Travis).




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