The DiBlanco Story – Part II, The American

After over 10 years of country music in Germany Robert and his wife decided to move to Houston, TX in March 1997 to pursue their goal of making the best country music they possibly can.

One of the first attempt in their new home in Texas was a band project called TEXMANIA which unfortunately never really took off. After that they both spent about a year with a project called JOLLY ROGER BAND. While working with the JOLLY ROGER BAND Robert also got involved in a band called THE STRINGBENDERS (which up to this day sometimes appears on Robert’s busy schedule). THE STRINGBENDERS lineup was made up of two local songwriters / guitar players and a drummer who were regulars in the local open mike scene, leading to the introduction of Robert to the infamous Wednesday Night Redneck Jam at Blanco’s Bar and Grill hosted by none other than Joe “Old Fud” Parsons (by now an institution in the Texas Music scene).

Robert met MARK ZEUS at Blanco’s Bar and Grill through the River Oaks Redneck Wednesday jam sessions and soon joined his THUNDERBOLTZ project to record and perform live. Soon after that (at another Wednesday night at Blanco’s Bar and Grill) Robert met drummer Rod Robert who jammed with the THUNDERBOLTZ that night. Rod Robert told Robert about one of the other projects he was involved in and soon scheduled a meeting between Robert and the rest of the CLAY FARMER BAND.

After joining the CLAY FARMER BAND Robert had a chance to work with some of the best musicians in the Houston, TX area. Drummer Rod Robert and DiBlanco quickly became known as one of the tightest rhythm sections in the Texas music scene. Adding guitar slinger Paul Burnett and talented keyboard player/fiddler Jason Ellsworth into the mix elevated the status of the CLAY FARMER BAND to red-hot! In 2000 the CLAY FARMER BAND released their sophomore album “Clay Farmer” which was being hailed as one of the best independant albums and earned rave reviews all over Texas. Soon after the release of the album, Jason Ellsworth decided to leave and was replaced with another “monster on the keys” by the name of Randy Wall. Paul Burnett was later replaced with Sebastian Ayus and the CLAY FARMER BAND went on to play high-profile shows like the Hideout at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 2 years in a row as well as sharing the stage with a who-is-who in Texas Music: Charlie Robinson, Bruce Robinson, Kelly Willis, Cory Morrow, Roger Creager, Davin James, Jesse Dayton, John Evans, Max Stalling, Kevin Fowler, Cross Canadian Ragweed and the Great Divide.

In late 2003 the CLAY FARMER BAND went back to the studio and recorded their second album “Another Day” which was released in early 2005. By then drummer Rod Robert decided to dedicate his time to his other project “The FAB 5” and was replaced with Joe DeLeon (former drummer for Doug Supernaw and the Tearjerkers). DiBlanco reportedly feels very fortunate to call Rod Robert and Joe DeLeon his “partners in crime” . “Playing with high caliber drummers like Rod and Joe makes my life so much easier and so much more fun. A good show starts with a tight rhythm section and these two guys provide rock-solid grooves on anything from waltzes to shuffles to train beats. Drummers like that don’t come along too often and I am the lucky guy working with the Best-of-the-Best every night. WOW!”

Robert started 2004 with some studio projects including a few sessions with his buddies drummer Joe DeLeon and keyboardist Randy Wall for several Houston artists. He was also seen working live with established acts like KEVIN BLACK (yes, he is Clint Black’s brother) and KIM CARSON as well as newcomers AMANDA WILLIAMS and SETH JOHNSON. While working these shows Robert found two more partners in crime in drummer Paul Chris and Walter Cross. “Naturally as a bass player I am looking at the drummer first and I feel very fortunate to be able to work with guys like Joe, Rod, Paul and Walter – it makes it easier to get people to move when the rhythm section on stage is groovin” says DiBlanco.

The year 2005 started with a big bang when CLAY FARMER BAND‘s second album “Another Day” was released in early January. Not only was Robert the bass player and harmony vocals singer on all the tracks but he also signed responsible for co-producing the record with his partner Clay. This marks the second time Robert has taken on co-producing duties, following the release of “Restless …” album released by The LONGHORN Band in Germany (for more information visit the ‘The European Days’ section).

In September of 2005, DiBlanco was asked to join the band of Texas artist TODD FRITSCH and gladly accepted the invitation. TODD FRITSCH released his self titled album earlier that year and has had tremendous success all over the world with his single releases “I Got Mexico”, “Small Town Radio”, “Bob Wills Song” and “I Don’t Live Here Anymore”.

At the end of 2005, DiBlanco also worked together with Warner Brothers recording artist RICK TREVINO for a couple of shows.

In February of 2006 DiBlanco was part of the band that recorded the much anticipated CLAY FARMER LIVE double-album.

The year 2007 saw DiBlanco travel the world with TODD FRITSCH, playing to sell-out crowds in the US as well as France on his ongoing tour, opening for country music legends such as Marty Stuart and Ronnie Milsap as well as headlining their own shows. DiBlanco also celebrated 30 years in the music business, starting as a 13 year-old on the drums at a school concert in Messstetten, Germany.
The year ended with a very successful Christmas Armed Forces Tour through Puerto Rico, Curacao and Guantanamo Bay (Cuba).

2008 saw DiBlanco continuing his work with TODD FRITSCH, playing the Houston Astrodome again during the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and starting a new project called the ARMADILLO PLAYBOYS, the house band for Goode Company’s Armadillo Palace in Houston, TX. which are featured regularly at Ladies’ Night every WED night.

In 2009 DiBlanco started to work with country singers DIXIE TRAHAN and COOPER WADE on a regular basis. He also continued to work with TODD FRITSCH on another successful year of touring the United States.

2010 saw DiBlanco sign up as a staff bass player for THE FOUNDRY Church in Houston, TX where he plays every Sunday morning for two church services at either one of their two locations.

DiBlanco started to work on implementing his own recording studio (focused on recording top quality bass tracks) in late 2009 and 2010 saw the opening of THE BASS LAB. DiBlanco was also added to the studio roster of HILLTRAX STUDIOS and has already worked on several projects throughout the year.

DiBlanco also started to work more frequently with Texas artists SAM MOORE and SHANE BARNHILL.

The year 2010 ended with sessions for COOPER WADE’s record which was released in early 2011.

In early 2011 DiBlanco went back into the studio and recorded a record with up-and-coming singer/songwriter BRI BAGWELL after her successful participation on CMT’s “Next Superstar” show. This promises to be a really good one ….

He also was responsible for the bass work on SHANE BARNHILL’s sophomore album and ABBY GOUGH‘s first album release which were hit the scene that same year. Christian artist JON DAMRON also featured DiBlanco on bass and harmony vocals on his latest album.

2012 saw recording sessions for albums by JUNIOR GORDON, DON VICKERS and SUSAN HICKMAN on DiBlanco’s busy schedule. Christian Artist LARRY VIRNAU also relied on DiBlanco’s bass work for his studio recordings.

The addition of DiBlanco to the staff at R/R STUDIO in Lake Jackson promises more work and exciting projects for the future.

In 2012 Robert DiBlanco, guitarist Ronnie Dobbs, fiddle player Todd Parsons and drummer Joe DeLeon started their own project called COWBOY STEEL. This new lineup immediately signed up to be the backing band for SHANE BARNHILL and added DARWIN MACON in May of 2012.

In 2013 DiBlanco did recording sessions for new albums by SHANE BARNHILL, DARWIN MACON and a special Glen Campbell Tribute by ANITA CAMPBELL, NEIL AUSTIN IMBER, ABBY GOUGH and BRYAN SHAYNE also returned to the studio with DiBlanco’s bass support.

2014 continued a strong relationship and recording sessions for local artists SHANE BARNHILL and DARWIN MACON. DiBlanco also took part in several recording sessions for multiple artists and projects slated to be released in 2014/2015 as well as recording sessions for JUNIOR GORDON’s album (“Watered Down”) which is slated to be released in 2016.

2015 saw the release of new albums by DARWIN MACON (“Long Time Coming”) and  SHANE BARNHILL (“Country Lovin’ “). The year ended with 7 songs DiBLanco contributed to on bass in the Top 200 of the Texas Regional Radio Report (TRRR) charts for the year 2015.

On a sad note, 2015 also marked the end of DiBlanco’s 13-year partnership with drummer extraordinaire Joe DeLeon, as he succumbed to cancer at the end of October.

“It still seems unreal, but I had to accept the fact that my brother Joe will not be able to perform with me anymore. He will always be with me though and I am grateful for the many years of great music, friendship and support. I know we’ll see each other again ….. just not yet.”


Much more to come …. for sure ….. stay tuned ……..