Music in the Digital Age

As we all know, these days a lot of music gets ‘consumed’ by downloading music from online stores or streaming music from your favorite music service. Judging by the current industry numbers, it certainly looks like the CD/record/album will be a thing of the past pretty soon (at least for the main stream music consumer). And if you listen to some industry insiders, downloads might follow suit pretty soon – being completely replaced by music streaming services.

There are a couple of issues with this trend we should all be concerned about:

1) Seems like the ‘consumer’ has finally completely given up on trying to listen to music in the quality it was supposed to be listened to. On one end, recording studios try to get better and better quality (by constantly ramping up the resolution music is recorded with) only to be ‘dumbed’ down when it gets converted into downloadable and/or streamable file sizes.

2) Sustainability for the creators of music (writers, singers, musicians, producers, engineers, etc) is taking a huge hit as their songs are not creating enough revenue anymore to justify future investments. Most local artists record and release their work backed by their own funds and are having a hard time breaking even as it currently is. With streaming becoming the primary way of music distribution, a lot of local and national artist will not be able to break even anymore. This will most likely lead to less music being recorded, less songs being needed, less work for studios, producers, engineers, musicians and so forth. Expect the streets to musical success to be lined with a whole lot more broken dreams and destroyed souls. If this trend continues, the creation of music (and art as a whole) will be limited to the fortunate few that were either able to create their fortune in the past or have limitless funding from outside sources (which has nothing to do with their talent and/or creativity).

3) Nobody gets to read liner notes anymore – lyrics to the songs, stories, credits and thank you’s are apparently close to extinction. Some albums we download today will still have PDF booklets that most people probably don’t even notice but once you get into the streaming world all that is gone.

Personally, I think it is only fair to give the songwriters, session musicians, producers, engineers, studios, photographers, etc credit for their creative work on songs they have been a part of. For me it has always been exciting to read the liner notes on any album I purchased to find out who was playing/singing/working on it.

A lot of people in the music industry used to get new client work from artists reading somebody else’s liner notes (who wrote the tune, produced, played, sang on it). I guess this ‘referral by proxy’ will be a thing of the past pretty soon.

I honestly also enjoyed the artwork of a lot of albums in the past – there were some awesome photographers and graphic artists creating album covers that left lasting impressions. I guess we’ll send all these creative professionals into retirement, because we won’t need awesome cover art anymore for a little icon on your streaming devices screen.

This is not about one artist or one career, this is about the health of the whole industry (as if it has been very healthy lately). Make no mistake about it – even the ‘big boys/girls’ are feeling the effects:
– if you can hire your favorite A-Team musician online to play on your next album you know he/she is feeling it, because they wouldn’t even had time to think about that during the 80’s and 90’s.
– if one of the biggest recording artists in the world shuts down his own company to sign up with one of the major music distributors, you know they’re feeling it (even though this happened for the right reasons).
– if one of the most popular Rock bands decides NOT to record a new album, because they don’t want to loose money, you know they’re definitely feeling it.

For years, Garth Brooks has been very vocal about trying to protect songwriters and the concept of ‘albums’ as a whole instead of selling song-by-song. Every wonder why? Because not every song is/can be a hit song but carries the same amount of effort and the same production price tag as the next one on the album. How many times have you listened to one of your favorite artist’s records and discovered a ‘hidden gem’ after many many years? Circumstances change and all of a sudden well crafted songs/lyrics take on completely different meanings. If we had only gotten the hit single off that album; we would have never even heard that gem …. think about it.

And as for the writers, not every song can be a hit song – even some of the most successful songwriters will tell you that they are still working on perfecting their craft and are still looking for THAT perfect song. If we only buy the hit singles, we take away the funding for the writers of all the remaining songs – and does anyone really believe that the hits are always the best songs on an album?

I don’t live in a dream world where everybody buys all the music they listen to and I am not against streaming services at all (as a matter of fact, I use streaming a lot of times to have background music and/or listen to songs I have to learn for my job) BUT I do make it a point to buy CDs of my favorite music even though I might already have the MP3s on all my devices. And it doesn’t matter if we’re talking Aaron Watson’s “Underdog”, Mark Chesnutt’s “Tradition Lives”, Mo Pitney’s “Behind This Guitar”, Reba McEntire’s “Sing It Now”, Don Henley’s “Cass County” or Toto’s “Toto XIV” – I bought them all.

The moral of the story: Support your favorite artist(s) by buying a hardcopy (!!) of their music at their shows or on their website(s) – spend the money to get their latest CD and a t-shirt and know that you’ve contributed to keeping them in business and enable them to create more music in the future.

And at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what their name is …. they’re all in the same boat, from your local favorite to international superstar.

How much is your favorite singer/song worth to you? Hopefully more than the cup of coffee you had this morning ….

To all of you that support your favorite artists – THANKS for keeping music and artists alive and creating.


“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of Music is the greatest treasure in the World.” – Martin Luther

Pro-Tip: In-Ear Monitors – Protect them from your sweat

For all you musicians that are using In-Ear Monitors (also known as Ear Molds), here is a great tip from my friend the “Queen of Earz”, Ms.Joy Bastow. If you have any questions related to in-ear monitors, you should visit her website and contact her; great products and superior customer service !

In order to protect your ear monitors from sweat getting onto the contact area between the molds and the cable you can seal the area at the end of your cable with Nail Hardener.

You want to put this stuff all round the spot where your cable sits on your earmold to protect sweat from getting in there. In order to get a real good seal it is recommended to apply 3-4 layers of hardener. It takes about 15 minutes for each layer to dry (before you can apply another layer).

The recommended brand is Sally Hansen ‘Hard As Nails’ (because of its viscosity – meaning it is thicker than others) and it can be purchased conveniently from Amazon:

I’ve done it to my in-ear monitors (as I sweat quite a bit) and have not had any issues after applying it (I did experience occasional dropouts in the past).

Hope this tips helps everybody maintain good monitors.

Stay tuned for more Pro-Tips,

A Walk Down Memory Lane

2015 started out looking like many years before and all seemed well. Throughout the year everything was rolling with the flow and life seemed fine until August 27th …

The day started with a recording session with some of Houston’s finest country pickers and ended with the devastating news that my musical brother Joe DeLeon had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer … BOOM …

The shockwave rumbled through the Texas music scene like a freight train, his many friends in Texas and Nashville, TN were shocked by the news and the outpouring of love and help was tremendous.

Joe DeLeon on his famous "burnt cheese" DW drumkit

Joe DeLeon on his famous “burnt cheese” DW drumkit

A Walk Down Memory Lane

The year is 2002 and a bass player who had just moved to Houston, TX from his native Germany a few years earlier visited Blanco’s, a Houston honky-tonk known for quality live music, because people in the local music scene repeatedly told him to go watch a band called “The Tearjerkers” when he asked them for the name of the hottest band in town. They were backing up a local singer by the name of Carl Manchaca that night and sounded absolutely amazing. The band lineup that night consisted of Kenny Jackson (guitar), Allen Huff (keys), Kenny King (bass) and Joe DeLeon (drums).

I was particularly impressed with the way Joe, Kenny & Allen played as a strong rhythm section – unaware that night that these were the same guys that had been the backbone for Country Star Doug Supernaw throughout his heyday. Little did I know that some of these exceptional musicians would become my friends and collaborators on many occasions and one in particular would become my friend, partner and right arm for the next decade.

Clay Farmer and his long-time band: Brian Thomas, Joe DeLeon and Robert DiBlanco.

Clay Farmer and his long-time band: Brian Thomas, Joe DeLeon and Robert DiBlanco.

A couple of months after seeing The Tearjerkers I had joined the band of singer/songwriter Clay Farmer and we needed a drummer to play with us. Our friend Paul Chris recommended a drummer and we were all set. I got to the gig and started playing without having a chance to get introduced to the fill-in drummer and two songs into the set he said to me “… we need to talk” before I could say the same thing to him. We did have a talk after the show and decided that we needed to work together permanently – the conversation ended with Joe’s famous words “… I think I may have found me a new Kenny King …”. Since I knew about his long-time friendship and musical history with Kenny I took that as a huge compliment. Throughout our musical journey Joe would keep reminding me how “… much you and Kenny play/are alike …”. Kenny had made some changes in his professional life that kept him from playing music as much as he wanted to which left the door open for me to team up with “Uncle Joe” full-time at the end of the year.

Throughout our journey Joe and I would always remember “that gig” and the fact that we “clicked” right away. It is one thing to become friends with a musician but sometimes there is a connection that is so deep yet so hard to describe to non-musicians. Every musician interprets ‘time’ a certain and unique way which (hopefully) culminates in what is generally called a ‘groove’. I am not exactly sure what controls our sense of time but I can tell you that there are differences (mostly of minute nature) between different players and if you find somebody who is on the same wave length as you are, you better hold on to her/him. That is exactly what happened between Joe and I – the ‘groove’ was there from the first song we played in 2002 until the last song we played together in 2015. I tried to explain many different ways when attempting to tell people what made Joe so special as a drummer but the closest I could ever get is this: we may not have had perfect time but our hearts were so in sync that we interpreted time the same way all the time. What I mean by that is that although we may not have been in perfect time all the time we would speed up and/or slow down together without talking to each other (and on recording sessions a lot of time without even seeing each other as the drummer is usually located in a separate drum booth). After a couple of sessions of playing with each other it was so obvious to me where he wanted the ‘groove’ to be and what he would play next that I could read his mind and vice versa. We would play diamonds (musician’s terminology for a break) together that were not notated on the number chart and that we had not talked about just because we both felt they had to be there at the exact same time. Throughout our sessions we would never musically step on each other – I could almost always anticipate what he would play and he would always know what I was going to do. It is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever experienced playing music ….. and we both took it for granted until it stopped.

"Bass Face" with brother Joe DeLeon behind me

“Bass Face” with brother Joe DeLeon behind Texas Artist Todd Fritsch @ The Hideout, Houston Rodeo

Occasionally we would look at each other, pat ourselves on the back and commend ourselves to the tune of “… we still got it brother …” when a recoding session or live show went particularly well but overall we always expected good results and never thought that this would ever end. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware of half the things that set him apart until he was not there anymore. For 13 years I could count on one hand (maybe two) the gigs/sessions that I played with other drummers than Joe DeLeon and on August 27th 2015 everything came to a screeching halt. We had finished a recording session that day and Joe told me that he wasn’t feeling well at all (which nobody would have been able to tell judging by his performance) and would finally go to the doctor to see what was going on. Hours later he texted me the dreaded news – and we still did not think that this would have been the last time we ever played together. At the end of September Joe texted me that he was planning on coming back to play with us again at the end of November. On October 30th 2015 those plans were finally crushed.

When I got Joe’s famous ‘burnt cheese’ DW drum kit out of the band trailer to return them to his family, I got this really weird feeling that these drums would be silenced forever and to this day I would give anything to hear him play them just one more time.

A year later it still feels like I am playing ‘handicapped’, like there is just something missing – playing music will never be the same. It is a lot harder to get the same confidence and find the same ‘zone’ to play in that used to be so easy to find and was created almost automatically and instantly. I miss knowing what is going to happen right next to me before it actually happens; I miss Joe’s big smile when either one of us would mess up; I miss the post-gig/post-session briefings; I miss the Starbucks runs as much as I miss his late-night story time at Whataburger but more than anything I miss my friend. I miss the guy that would share all of his knowledge and nudge things in the direction he wanted them to go (many times without anybody else noticing). I miss his blue Chevy pickup truck that most people would consider a clunker but he thought would “….. only need a tuneup…” to get him to where he needed to go. Just ask anybody in the Houston Music scene and you will find that “Old Blue” might just be the most famous vehicle around 😉

Joe DeLeon and Robert DiBlanco at Foundry Church. Cypress TX

Joe DeLeon and Robert DiBlanco as part of the Worship Team at Foundry Church, Cypress TX, Christmas 2015

Joe never missed a gig and was never late; I have played many shows with him where one or both us were not feeling well but we always went on and got it done because “….. that’s what we do !”. I have never met somebody that didn’t like Joe because on top of being a top notch drummer he was also a very caring and open person that would talk to anybody and would try to help his fellow musicians as much as he could. Loyalty was also a big thing with Joe DeLeon; if he told you he would play he would be there to play – no matter what else would come up. If he committed to a project, he would be supporting it come hell or high water – even if more lucrative opportunities came along. A man of his word, no doubt about it.
Joe’s last words to me were “… I love you Rob … and sorry about the band …” – go figure !

I have been blessed to be able to play with some of the best drummers in Texas (including Joe’s best friends Walter Cross and Paul Chris) and I love working with both of them but all three of us know that I will never connect with anybody like I did with Joe DeLeon, and that has absolutely nothing to do with them and/or their exceptional abilities.

Going through this past year made it very clear how painful it must have been for one of my all-time favorite bands, TOTO, to first lose their world-class drummer Jeff Porcaro and then their bass player Mike Porcaro. I read the Facebook posts by Milton Sledge (drummer of the famous “G-Men” team that recorded all of Garth Brooks’ music) about his friend and bass player Mike Chapman (also of the “G-Men” team) who passed away a few weeks ago and I know what he’s going through and how much he misses him. When I recently watched one of my favorite all-time movies, “Top Gun”, again I couldn’t help but feel like Maverick trying to throw Goose’s dog tags over the side of the ship into the sea but I just couldn’t let go of the tags …..

On a positive note, it warmed my heart to see the outpouring of love for Joe at the benefits that were held for him last year and I was tremendously thankful to the Country Music Association of Texas to bestow their “Drummer of the Year” award on Joe DeLeon before he left us. I had the honor of accompanying Joe’s daughter Zoe to the awards ceremony and we were able to bring the award to the hospital that same night; there was not a dry eye in the room when we put the trophy in Joe’s hands. The award will from now on be called the “Joe DeLeon Drummer Award” in his honor and be given out to his fellow drummers all over the state. One of Joe’s best friends, fellow drummer Paul Chris (who is currently working with Jody Booth) just deservedly received the Joe DeLeon Drummer Award for 2017 – I know he treasures this Award more than a lot of people realize.

I have so many great memories of and with my friend and I can listen to him anytime I want (according to my personal records we have played together on a little over 500 songs in the studio); I still have his phone number, emails and text messages in my phone. After Joe’s passing I wrestled with the decision to continue or retire but when all is said and done I realize that Joe would have definitely wanted me to continue, after all “….. that’s what we do !”

Very grateful for the continued support from everybody but especially my family (Amy & Austin Billasch, Kathi Buchwald, Heike Rohner, Stefan & Doris Poesch); my musical brothers and sisters (Darwin Macon, Danny Klotz, Ronnie Dobbs, Walter Cross, Paul Chris, Bobby Terry, Jason Rooks, Shane Barnhill, Allen Huff, Billy Hillman, Todd Fritsch, Kenny Grohman, Todd Parsons, Dixie & Skeeter Trahan, Cooper Wade, Junior Gordon, Marty Wolf, Joe Anslik) and most definitely The Foundry church family Joe and I shared for 7 years (especially Pastor Ray & Jacqueline Hughes, Jessica Stephenson, Robert Ashley, Pam & Gary Nelson, Kerry & Paul Babb, Tquan Moore, Kimberly Hanks, Becky Fredrickson, Randy Wall, Joe Busa, just to name a few … lol).

And as for you “JoJo” ….

Joe DeLeon & Robert DiBlanco in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Joe DeLeon & Robert DiBlanco in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

So long my friend, until we meet again. Thanks for always being you and taking a chance on that german bass player in 2002. You have changed my life forever and touched those of countless others. Lots of awesome memories of you will remain and I will carry them with me for the rest of my life.

The latest edition to my bass arsenal arrived just in time to play today’s church service and will be named “JoJo” in your honor. We will open and close both services with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” just like we did when you left us a year ago.

Like I always told you : “Proud to be your wingman, brother …”

“Our love doesn’t end here, it’s forever on the wings of time”
(from the song “Wings Of Time” by Toto)



Since its interception in 1997 no other effect has been used and overused as much as Auto-Tune (except for maybe compression, but that’s a whole other story). Nowadays you will hardly ever find a recording session or any release that doesn’t take ‘advantage’ of the Auto-Tune technology. A lot of singers these days rely so heavily on this effect that it becomes part of their ‘sound’ and the listeners have become so used to hearing the typical Auto-Tune sound that they don’t even realize it any more.

At a Martina McBride concert a few years ago I got a chance to talk to the FOH engineer after the show and asked him why he used Auto_Tune on her vocals and he told me that audiences nowadays are so used to ‘that sound’ that it was requested of him to use it on multiple songs throughout the show. We both agreed that a singer of Martina’s caliber really doesn’t need it but he had to do it anyways.

Reviewing the last George Strait show on his Farewell Tour I was floored by how much the Auto-Tune was overused and audible throughout the whole show. It become really annoying to me when i.e. Vince Gill’s vocal runs were completely destroyed by Auto-Tune technology.
I couldn’t help but think of the days when artists would actually sing and work on their craft (I remembered shows of Diamond Rio and Restless Heart back in the day – no Auto-Tune, just pristine vocals !).

I realize that we will probably never get rid of Auto-Tune and that in certain circumstances it can be a valid and appropriate tool (when used in a subtle manner) but I am seriously getting tired of people letting a computer do their singing for them. Im my humble opinion: if you can’t sing, you may want to look for a different job. Apart from that, I don’t mind hearing little imperfections during a live show …. it’s a LIVE show, if you want to hear the song in perfection go buy the recording and enjoy it.

My hat’s off to all the artists out there, big league or not, that keep singing their songs to the best of their abilities, stay true to themselves and keep Auto-Tune locked up in the recording studio.

“Just because we have all the technology tools doesn’t mean we have to use them (all the time) !”

Cheers, let’s make some music ….

Remembering Jeff Porcaro

Remembering Jeff Porcaro (04/01/1954-08/05/1992)

jeff-porcaro-thumb(Photo Credit : unknown photographer (from

Today would be Jeff Porcaro’s 60th birthday and I was going through YouTube to find some more info on him. Jeff has and will always be one of my absolute favorite drummers of all time. His groove is undeniable and the world of music is a better place for him leaving us his body of work to study and enjoy. There is a ‘lightness’ in his snare and hi-hat playing that nobody to this day has ever been able to re-produce or copy.

“Arguably the most highly regarded studio drummer in rock from the mid-’70s to the early ’90s”, Jeff was a member of Steely Dan and super group Toto and played on countless recordings of some of the world’s best known artists.

To this day there are still a lot of rumors and discussions about the cause of his death and I for one don’t really care what the real reason was (although I tend to believe Steve Lukather), I am just deeply saddened that it happened and we lost this incredible musician 22 years ago. From everything I have ever heard he was also a great human being which only adds to his legacy. Drummers all around the world have been and will be influenced by Jeff Porcaro’s work.

When I started to get really serious about playing bass, Toto albums were my food for inspiration and there was always something new to learn from the Masters. I’d like to think that my meter training was done in part by Jeff Porcaro because I jammed to his drumming a lot. Unfortunately I never got to meet him but I have always felt a strange connection to the way he played. On my attempt to learn how to play the drums, “Rosanna” was one of the first tunes I wanted to play.

My thoughts today are with the whole Porcaro family (especially Jeff’s brother Mike who is battling ALS a/k/a Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Jeff’s extended Toto family (Steve Lukather, David Paich, David Hungate, Bobby Kimball, the late Fergie Frederiksen, Joseph Williams, Jean-Michael Byron, Greg Phillinganes, Simon Phillips, Keith Carlock, Shannon Forrest, Nathan East and Leland Sklar).

Jeff Porcaro will live on forever …… in countless drummers and admirers around the world !

“Our Love Doesn’t End Here, It Lives Forever On The Wings Of Time”
(inscription on Jeff’s tombstone)

April 1st, 2014 – Robert DiBlanco

Here are some cool links that I found relating to Jeff Porcaro: – Who is Jeff Porcaro
Musician’s Institute in the 80’s
The Jeff Porcaro Half-Time Shuffle (Rosanna)
Mushanga – Jeff Porcaro
Jeff Porcaro Interview (1990)
Jeff Porcaro Interview (1988)
Toto Interview (1988)
Steve Lukather on Jeff Porcaro
Mike Porcaro talks about his brother Jeff
Toto talks bout Jeff Porcaro (Nov 1992)
Jim Keltner’s thoughts on Jeff Porcaro
Michael Thompson on Jeff Porcaro
John Robinson on Jeff Porcaro
Bill Schnee on Jeff Porcaro
In the studio with Toto
WikiPedia: Jeff Porcaro
A fan’s Jeff Porcaro Blog
A Jeff Porcaro Tribute Movie
Jeff Porcaro (1954-1992)

Special Thanks to Leland Sklar for keeping the memory of his groove buddy alive and in all of our minds 😉

Why use a session musician for your demo?

I found this great article on why to use session musicians for your demo recordings and wanted to publish the link for everybody:

The Advantages of Using Session Musicians on Your Songwriting Demo
(by Cliff Goldmacher)

Why do professional recordings sound, well…professional? There are a number of reasons including high quality microphones, pre-amps, an experienced engineer and a well-designed studio space. But one of the single most important elements in a great-sounding, professional recording is the performance of the session musicians. There is a reason that the job of the session musician exists. It’s these musicians whose talent and studio experience contribute in a major way to the polished sound of a recording. Because there are different rules that apply when you’re recording an artist demo, I’m going to limit the scope of this article to songwriting demos specifically.

Shouldn’t I Be Able To Do This Myself?

While I am a big proponent of wearing as many hats as you can in your musical career, there are certain areas where it makes much better sense to rely on experts. First of all, it’s extremely important that you take ego out of the equation. There is no shame in having someone else play on your demo. Remember that a songwriting demo is supposed to put your song in the best possible light in order to “sell” it to prospective artists or place it in films and TV shows. It is not supposed to be proof of your studio musicianship. Recording your instrument in the studio requires an entirely different skill set than playing live. For lack of a better description, studio recording is more like music surgery than a musical performance. While you might be comfortable playing guitar in your living room or even on a stage in front of hundreds of people, it’s an entirely different ballgame to sit in a four by six-foot booth wearing headphones and listening to a clicking sound. Giving a note-perfect, dynamic and in-time performance in this kind of unnatural setting requires a special set of skills.

Isn’t It Cheaper if I Do It Myself?

Given that we all have to keep an eye on the bottom line when it comes to our recording budget, there is the temptation to save money by playing on the demo yourself. The problem with this method is that often it will take an inexperienced musician twice as long to get a viable take as it would a pro. One of the many advantages of using session musicians is that they are not only good at what they do but fast. In other words, the price you pay to hire a session musician translates into savings on studio time compared to playing the part yourself. Being fast in the studio is useful for another reason as well. When a session bogs down with take after take, it starts to feel a lot more like work. When things go quickly and smoothly, they stay musical and fun. Don’t discount the need for a session to stay enjoyable. My experience has been that everyone does his or her best work when the atmosphere in the studio is light and productive.

Great Expectations

When it comes to recording a demo, it’s essential that you keep your listening audience in mind at all times. In the music industry, there is a certain level of “polish” that record labels, publishers, managers and producers have come to expect from the demos they listen to. By bringing in the same musicians that play on hundreds of songwriting demos and major label record projects, you’ll be giving these industry types what they’re used to hearing. We’ve all heard from time to time industry professionals say that they can “hear through” your rough recordings. My recommendation is NOT to take that chance. You’ve only got one opportunity to make a first impression and you should give yourself every advantage. Also, even if there is one industry professional willing and able to hear through a rough recording, you’ll hopefully be pitching this song to a number of industry people many of whom will be expecting a professional sounding demo.

The Care and Feeding of Session Musicians

When it comes to working with session musicians, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, if you’re not comfortable writing out a chord chart, professional session musicians are perfectly capable of listening to your rough recording (also known as a work tape) and writing out their own charts. For them, charting is quick process that should take no longer than 10-15 minutes at the most. Then, when it comes time for the musicians to play, always suggest that they try it their way first. There are two reasons for this. First of all, you’ve hired them to make your demo sound great so you should give them a chance to go with their instincts before you offer any direction. Secondly, by letting them do what you’ve brought them in to do with a minimum of interference, you’ll create goodwill that will go a long way towards the overall vibe in the studio. In almost every case, what the session musicians come up with will be better than you ever expected. HOWEVER, if you’re still not getting what you want after they’ve tried it their way, you’re 100% entitled to politely ask them to try it the way you were hearing it. The ONLY appropriate response from a session musician to your request is “absolutely.”


It can be intimidating to work with such talented musicians, but remember, they’re working for you! One of my favorite expressions is “the best ones have nothing to prove.” In other words, when you hire pros not only will they be great at what they do but they should be a pleasure to work with as well. There is no reason to hire even the best session musician if they have a bad attitude. This is extremely rare but if it happens, I’d recommend never using that musician again. There are way too many wonderful, friendly and talented session musicians out there to ever settle for one with a chip on their shoulder.

Finally, if you’ve never used a professional musician on your songwriting demo, do yourself a favor and try it out. You’re in for a treat and you’ll end up with a great demo.”
Copyright By Cliff Goldmacher (

It is so true …… and guess what, the time you save by having your songs recorded by professional session musicians will make up for the extra money you may have to budget.

Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

PLUS, session musicians make great friends too 🙂


Armadillo Playboys
Robert DiBlanco and Joe DeLeon (drums) team up with fiddler/singer extraordinaire Lee Mounger and guitar slinger Chad Ware for this house band project for the Armadillo Palace in Houston, TX.

The Armadillo Playboys

The Armadillo Playboys

The Armadillo Playboys are :
Chad Ware – Electric Lead- & Rhythm Guitar, Lead- & Backing Vocals
Lee Mounger – Fiddle, Lead- & Backing Vocals
Joe DeLeon – Drums & Percussion
Robert DiBlanco – Bass Guitar, Lead- & Backing Vocals

Cowboy Steel
Cowboy Steel was founded to be the complete backing band for several individual artists and can also be booked as a recording session team. Cowboy Steel currently works or has worked with TODD FRITSCH, SHANE BARNHILL, DARWIN MACON, BRIAN SACCO, JUNIOR GORDON, MICHAEL DEACON, SUSAN HICKMAN and ALLEN DUHON.

Cowboy Steel is:
Ronnie Dobbs – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, lead- & backing vocals
Joe DeLeon – drums, percussion
Robert DiBlanco – bass guitar, lead- & backing vocals

Former Members:
Todd Parsons – fiddle , lead- & backing vocals

White Lion Rhythm Section

The White Lion Rhythm Section

The White Lion Rhythm Section

The White Lion Rhythm Section is:
Joe DeLeon – drums, percussion
Robert DiBlanco – bass guitar, upright bass

Todd Fritsch
DiBlanco joined Todd Fritsch and his band “STAMPEDE” in September of 2005 and enjoys working with the strong lineup consisting of :

Todd Fritsch & Stampede (2007)

Todd Fritsch & Stampede (2007)

Todd Fritsch & Stampede are:
Todd Fritsch – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Ronnie Dobbs – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
Todd Parsons – fiddle, vocals
Kenny Grohman – pedal steel guitar, electric guitar
Joe DeLeon – drums
Robert DiBlanco – bass guitar, backing vocals

Former Members:
Billy Hillman – lead guitar, acoustic guitar
Lee Mounger – fiddle , vocals
Donnie Simmons – lead guitar, backing vocals
Leo Thibodeaux – lead guitar

Shane Barnhill Band

Shane Barnhill Band is:
Shane Barnhill – acoustic guitar, lead vocals
Ronnie Dobbs – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, lead- & backing vocals
Joe DeLeon – drums, percussion
Robert DiBlanco – bass guitar, lead- & backing vocals

Former Members:
Todd Parsons – fiddle , lead- & backing vocals

Darwin Macon Band

Darwin Macon Band is:
Darwin Macon – acoustic guitar, lead vocals
Ronnie Dobbs – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, lead- & backing vocals
Joe DeLeon – drums, percussion
Robert DiBlanco – bass guitar, lead- & backing vocals

Former Members:
Todd Parsons – fiddle , lead- & backing vocals

Cooper Wade & Unclaimed Freight
Cooper Wade has grown up with music since he was born. Both his parents sing and played instruments, so it was fitting Cooper took right to it also. He started playing the piano at age 7, drums/percussion at age 12 and self-taught guitar starting in high school. He received a percussion scholarship to college where he earned a BM in percussion performance with a minor in piano and voice. He has enjoyed being on stage since he was a kid and the stage jitters don’t bother him at all.

Dixie Trahan Band
Dixie Trahan – born in Kansas and transplanted to Texas 12 days later…this gal was raised in music! The road called and she answered early, traveling everywhere from here to Canada and back again many times! Recently making her way into the Texas music scene, Dixie has teamed up with some of Texas’ best musicians to bring you an experience you won’t be able to get enough of…The highlight is her delicate, soulful voice, which has rightfully earned comparisons to Alison Krauss but also boasts shades of Pam Tillis.

Welcome to the land of Dixie!

The Dixie Trahan Band is:
Dixie Trahan – lead vocals
Skeeter Trahan – acoustic guitar, vocals
Billy Hillman – lead guitar, acoustic guitar
Joe DeLeon – drums
Robert DiBlanco – bass guitar, backing vocals

Kim Carson & Buffalo Speedway
Growing up in rural Texas, Oklahoma and New Orleans, LA Kim Carson’s sound is a gumbo of original high energy roots rock and renegade honky-tonk music.

Clay Farmer Band
Formed in Houston, TX USA, DiBlanco has been the resident bassplayer/harmony vocalist of this project from 2000 until 2006 and to this day performs with this project on special events:

The Clay Farmer Band is:
Clay Farmer – Vocals, Rhythm Guitars & Harp
Brian Thomas – Pedal Steel Guitar, Dobro, Banjo
Randy Wall – Keyboards
Joe DeLeon – Drums
Robert DiBlanco – Vocals & Bass Guitar

Former members:
Jeff Morrison – Lead Guitars
Paul Burnett – Lead Guitar & Vocals
Sebastian Ayus – Lead Guitars
Jason Ellsworth – Fiddle & Piano
Rod Robert – Drums & Vocals

Mark Zeus & Thunderboltz
Chicago, IL born singer/songwriter that has established himself in the Houston Music scene as a very talented mandolin/guitar player for sideman gigs as well as solo/duo shows (with his musical partner Kristen Jensen) or full band scenarios with his great band ‘Thunderboltz’.

Mark came to Houston around the same time that I started getting to know the Houston music scene and we shared many open-mike nights together at Blanco’s. Mark’s professional attitude and his good ear make him an absolute pleasure to work with. Mark also teaches Mandolin, Guitar and the art of Mixing very successfully.

The Stringbenders
I met Tracy Park at the Guitar Center in Houston, TX in 1999 and joined the StringBenders shortly after that. Up to this day I pick with them whenever they need me and my busy schedule allows me to do it.

The Stringbenders

The Stringbenders

The Stringbenders are :
Tracy Park – Rhythm Guitar, Harp, Lead- & Backing Vocals
Jim Ferguson – Lead Guitar, Bass Guitar, Lead- & Backing Vocals
Benny Rod – Drums & Backing Vocals
Jeff Hale – Lead Guitars, Bass Guitar, Fiddle, Lead- & Backing Vocals

Based out Stieldorferhohn, Germany and Cologne, Germany the new lineup continued to play all across Germany, winning awards and releasing their album “Restless…” in 1994. The band disbanded in 1997, when Helen Billasch and Robert DiBlanco moved to the United States.

The LONGHORN Band (1995)

The LONGHORN Band (1995)

The LONGHORN Band was:
Helen Billasch – Lead- & Backing Vocals
Bernd Wolf – Rhythm Guitar, Lead- & Backing Vocals
Joe Anslik – Lead Guitars, Lead Vocals
Mike Greller – Drums & Backing Vocals
Robert DiBlanco – Bass Guitar, Lead- & Backing Vocals


Longhorn (Germany)

Longhorn (Germany)

Helen Billasch – Lead- & Backing Vocals
Helmut Temp – Rhythm Guitar, Lead- & Backing Vocals
Joe Anslik – Lead Guitars, Lead Vocals
Mike Greller – Drums & Backing Vocals
Robert DiBlanco – Bass Guitar, Lead- & Backing Vocals

Formed in Bonn, Germany this TOP 40 band was a household name in the local music scene. The band performed on a variety of official festivities in front of presidents and high level politicians at the Godesburg in Bad Godesberg, Germany as well as countless show gigs during the years between 1984 and 1989.

APROPOS Showband (Germany)

APROPOS Showband (Germany)

Jutta Witkowski – Lead Vocals
Helmut Temp – Rhythm Guitar, Accordion, Lead- & Backing Vocals
Berthold Brand – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Harald Brand – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Wolfgang Weber – Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals
Albert Pinsdorf – Drums, Lead- & Backing Vocals
Robert DiBlanco – Bass Guitar, Lead- & Backing Vocals

Formed in Hettenhausen, Germany this band played rock music (covers and originals) between approximately 1981 and 1983.

Harald Heil- Rhythm Guitars
Michael Schleicher – Lead Guitars & Vocals
Armin Niebling – Drums & Vocals
Harald Stoltz – Keyboards, Guitars & Vocals
Robert DiBlanco – Bass Guitar & Vocals

My All-Time Favorites

See my list of all-time favorite instrumentalists categorized by their main instrument:

Michael Rhodes Bass Guitar
Willie Weeks Bass Guitar
Keith Horne Bass Guitar
Glenn Worf Bass Guitar
Dave Pomeroy Bass Guitar
Mike Brignardello Bass Guitar
David Hungate Bass Guitar
Leland Sklar Bass Guitar
Mike Porcaro Bass Guitar
the late Roy Huskey Jr. Upright Bass
Victor Krauss Upright Bass
Edgar Meyer Upright Bass
Eddie Bayers Jr. Drums
the late Jeff Porcaro Drums
the late Larry Londin Drums
Shannon Forrest Drums
Paul Leim Drums
Steve Gadd Drums
Dieter Gerbe Drums
Joe DeLeon Drums
Brent Mason Guitar
Albert Lee Guitar
Joe Anslik Guitar
Bobby Terry Guitar
Brad Paisley Guitar
Ricky Skaggs Guitar
James Burton Guitar
Ray Flacke Guitar
the late Carl Perkins Guitar
Anita Cochran Guitar
Keith Urban Guitar
Jimmy Olander Guitar
Vince Gill Guitar
Mark Knopfler Guitar
Pete Anderson Guitar
Eddie Van Halen Guitar
Steve Lukather Guitar
Paul Franklin Pedal Steel Guitar
the late John Hughey Pedal Steel Guitar
Bobby Terry Pedal Steel Guitar
Ralph Mooney Pedal Steel Guitar
Cindy Cashdollar Pedal Steel Guitar
Herb Remington Pedal Steel Guitar
Mark O’Connor Fiddle
Gene Elders Fiddle
Sam Bush Mandolin
Marty Stuart Mandolin
Jerry Douglas Dobro
Bela Fleck Banjo
the late Terry McMillan Harp
Delbert McClinton Harp
John Hobbs Keyboards
Matt Rollings Keyboards
Rondal Huckaby Keyboards
Benmont Tench Keyboards
Michael McDonald Keyboards
Bekka Bramlett Backing Vocals
Robert Bailey Jr. Backing Vocals
Kim Fleming Backing Vocals
Donna McElroy Backing Vocals
Vickie Hampton Backing Vocals
Curtis “Mr.Harmony” Young Backing Vocals
Wes Hightower Backing Vocals
Liana Manis Backing Vocals
John Cowan Backing Vocals

Credits & Thanks

Thanks to all of the following people for what you have done with or for me. I know I am forgetting somebody but I do the best I can to keep the list up-to-date – there’s just so many people to thank:

Amy Floyd; Austin Dieter Billasch; Helga Billasch, the late Bube, the late Felix, Trixie, Momo, Reba, Aretha, Moritz & Othello; Katja & Klaus Buchwald; the late Dieter Billasch; the late Brigitte Stickeler-Billasch; Heike Kopf-Rohner; the late Katharina Dickler; the late Robert Dickler; Willi Gondolph; the late Elfriede Gondolph; Hans-Juergen Gondolph; Rainer Gondolph; Stefan, Doris, Anna & Patrick Poesch; Erik Werdel; Christian & Gabriele Werdel; Helga Werdel; the late Joseph Werdel; the late Maria Kohns; Annette Floyd; Monte Keene Pishny-Floyd; Jennifer Floyd; Sarah & Gerald Fox; Laura, David, Adam & Reah Levitan; the late Heidemarie Rohner;

Bernd “Marty” Wolf; Jochen “Joe” Anslik, Klaus Greller; Hans Schaefer; Helmut Temp; Berthold Brand; Harald Brand; Jutta Witkowski; Wolfgang Weber; Albert Pinsdorf; Harry Stoltz; Harald Heil; Michael Schleicher; Armin Niebling; Klaus Mohr; Dieter Gerbe; Stefan Gerbe; Tom Astor; Renate Stein; Robert Makowski; Dick Frangenberg; Helt Oncale; Dagmar Tietz; Harald Reichel; Jill Morris; Anders Forstmann; Roger Immig; Werner Vogel; Uli Moehring; Marion Moehring; Hans “Grizzly” Weimer; Hubert Degen; Albert Lee (United Kingdom); Peter Baron (United Kingdom); Fargo; Horst Eickelberg;

Cat Verdell; Todd Fritsch; Robert Ashley; Clay Farmer; Lynn Bell; Briana Bagwell; Stephen Chadwick; Ronnie Dobbs; Cameron Parsons; Jody Cameron; Todd Parsons; Darwin Macon; Rod Robert; Lisa Robert; Paul Burnett; brother Joe DeLeon; Randy Wall; Sebastian Ayus; Jason Ellsworth; Jeff Morrison; Susan Hickman; Doug Deforest; Robby Springfield; Martha Moore; Enrique Alvarado; Tracy Martin; Kevin Fowler; Rick Trevino; Milton Walters; Tim Weaver; Donnie Simmons; Don Vickers; Lee Mounger; Leo Thibodeaux; Billy Hillman; Kenny Grohman; Doug Driesel; Aaron Teal; Richard Ebert; Scott Shipley; Jim ‘Haystack’ Novak; Steve Wilkinson; Cody Kouba; Shane Barnhill; Junior Gordon; Mike Adkins; Randy Cornor; Kenny Cordray; Kevin Hardin; John Matlock; Drew Balog; Andy Bradley; Jason Barrera; Jason Lerma; Jason Rooks; Bobby Terry; Mark Shannon; Lisa Shannon; Lupe Alvarez; Chip Wied; Raegan Brockenbush; Betty Fritsch; Martha Moore; Dr. Hector Aguero; Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra; Dr. John Ricarte; Brazosport Symphony Orchestra; cousin Marty Stuart; Harry Stinson; Kenny Vaughan; Brian Glenn; Keith Horne; Tracy Lawrence; Clay Walker; John Slaughter; Ronnie Milsap; Rick Robertson; Ryan Couvillon; Larry ‘Hollywood’ Parcell; Paul Chris; Jason Burk; Kenny Martin; Pat Green; Jon Wolfe; Chad Ware; Trevor Reifel; Richie Vasquez; Darryl Green; Walter Cross; Jason Pate; Mike Ferrara II; Aleph Yonker; Kenny King; Allen Huff; Roger Creager; Kenny Jackson; Keith McCoy; Terry Westbrook; Don Westmoreland; Jason Allen; Donovan Lindsey; Brian Thomas; Cooper Wade; Kevin Black; Tracy S.Park; James T.Ferguson; Benny Rod; Jeff Hale; Mark Zeus; Jon Wolfe; Tom Ben Lindley; Jennifer Fitts; Bruce Wiggins; Andrea Wiggins; Brian Sacco; Drywater Band; Dixie Trahan; Skeeter Trahan; Amanda Williams; Kim Carson; J.D.DiTullio; Johnny Wolfe Falstaff; Steven Bailey; Cindy Cashdollar; Ron Crick; Wayne Wilkerson; Herb Remington; Johnny Cavazos; Davin James; Sam Moore; Jesse Dayton; Big John Mills; Wesley Cornor; Randy Meadows; Angie Beck; Robin Mims; Melinda Mones; James Stone; Celeste Terrell; Neil Austin Imber; Doug Keyes; Ricky Wells; the late Joe Perry; Rob Lee; Nancy Jean Buchan; Charles Eichelberger; the late Papa Joe Britt; Kevin Stanley; Lucia D’Agata; Lane Moore; Clint Glaze; Sid Brown; Mark Stokes; Danny Tice; Pauline Reese; Joe Parsons; the late Ann Parsons; Leslie T.Travis; Pat Neifert; Kristen Jensen; Lisa Novak; Buddy Allen; Marius Fleck; the Reverend Billy F.Gibbons

Business Germany
GACMF German American Country Music Federation; Offener Kanal Dortmund; TCS-World of Country Music; Rhoencolor deBoer; RoBiCom; Musik Meyer, Marburg; Country Friends Koetz; Cafe Hahn, Koblenz; Touchdown Records; Saturn, Koeln; Minas GmbH; Walther & Sohn GmbH; BB Music School; PIK Buehnentechnik; Liveliner GmbH; Texas Heat Band

Business USA
Todd Fritsch Enterprises; Sweetgrass Talent Group; Macon Bacon Records; Goode’s Company; Roger Sadowsky & Sadowsky Guitars NYC; Dan Lakin Guitars; Lakland Bass Guitars; Tegeler Chevrolet; 3D Belt Company; Peter Montessi & A Designs Audio; Power 3 Productions; The Cuttin’ Crew; Ten 18 Sound Productions; Dino Fiumara and BSX Bass Company; Clay Farmer Band; Maury Tate & MoBetta Western Wear; Manuel Exclusive Clothier; Dave Funk & Thunderfunk; Mark Wright & Accugroove; EA Euphonic Audio; Ecstatic Electrics; retrospec Audio; SWR Sound Engineering; Raven Labs; Line 6; Marty Garcia & Future Sonics Ear Monitors; Lance Keltner & RetroChannel; ELIXIR strings; Jeff Barnett & Sweetwater; Glenn Kawamoto & Austin Bass Traders; Sennheiser USA; Equation Audio; CMA Country Music Association; Blanco’s Bar & Grill; RoBiCom; Band Together Music/Humble Music Center; So Much MOORE media; Ray Carter & RLC Productions; Black Lion Audio; Horizon Artist Management LLC; Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo; Sugar Hill Recording Studios, Houston TX; Limelight Studios, Dickinson TX; ASTRA Studios, Channelview TX; Bungalow Studios, Houston TX; Sound Arts, Houston TX; Guitar Emporium, Louisville KY; Richard Tyler International, Inc.; American Internet Technologies; SABAWI Tax Services; Rockin’ Robin; Guitar Center, Houston TX; Guitar Center, Dallas TX; Steinberg Software GmbH; HillTrax Studios, Huntsville TX; R/R Studios, Lake Jackson TX; Karl Kuenning &; The Foundry United Methodist Church; Tiffany @ Massage Envy, Cypress TX

Who is Robert DiBlanco ?

Who is Robert DiBlanco?
Bass player, drummer, singer, producer, engineer – at one time or another these are all hats that Robert DiBlanco has worn in the past or is still wearing today. Born in Germany, Robert DiBlanco established himself as one of the premier bass players in the European country music scene. After working with several successful projects in Germany DiBlanco moved to the United States. A short time after the move DiBlanco was already “back in the saddle”, working with some of the most promising acts in the Texas Country Music scene.

Based out of Cypress, TX DiBlanco keeps a busy schedule, performing live all over the United States and the World as well as recording with various artists on a regular basis. Owner of his own recording studio, ‘TheBassLab’, DiBlanco is no stranger to the task of engineering and/or producing records himself.

On Sundays DiBlanco plays bass for The Foundry Church in Houston and really enjoys working with their excellent worship team. He also acts as the Technical Director for their Fry Road campus.

Here is a quick personal message from Robert DiBlanco:

Drop me a message if you feel like
, I am always interested in feedback. I also wanted to plug my friends at ‘Sounds Of Texas’ – if you are looking for a website, give them a call – they’ve done a great job for me through the years.
If you need a band for your next event (party, festival, wedding, etc.) please contact the good folks at Sweetgrass Talent Group and book one of their outstanding acts.

If you are looking to get your own music arranged, produced, recorded or need any help in that area – please contact me so we can talk about your needs. My team can certainly help you with any project, big or small.

Thanks again for stopping by – have yourself a “groovin’ day” and come and see me at one of the upcoming shows.

– Robert DiBlanco