Blues Guitarist and Singer
Born in Shula, Arkansas, in 1931, Robert Lowery grew up in nearby El Dorado, close
to the Arkansas-Louisiana border. He and his eight brothers and sisters worked on a
farm raising cotton, corn, peas, potatoes, and other crops. He first heard music as
a young boy lying in bed at night listening to his parents' weekend parties. By
age 17 he was playing guitar, learning a bit from his uncle and neighbors. He'd also go
into town to pick up whatever
he could: "Every time I see someone with a guitar walking down the street I'd chase
him down," recalls Bob.
As a young man Robert moved to Oakland to find work, and he settled in Santa Cruz
in 1957. He was a sideman for Big Mama Thornton when she played the Beachcomber
club on Beach Street in the early 60s. The list of local clubs and coffeehouses
he's played since then is long: the Catalyst, Poet and Patriot, Moe's Alley, Zelda's,
Miramar, Ideal Bar and Grill, Emi, Gabriela's, Rosie McCann's, Red Room, and Cafe
Pergolesi, just to name a few. His most colorful memories are of playing for hippies
at the old Club Zayante: "It was like some old
shack...when they started dancing in there, you could hardly walk, the whole building
would be shaking!"
Robert Lowery, 1970s
Robert has played frequently at UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz
Blues Festival, KPIG Fat Fry, Monterey Blues Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, and at
clubs throughout the Bay area. He opened for B.B. King when he played the Santa Cruz
West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz
In the last several years, Robert's reputation as an authentic country
bluesman has taken him far beyond California. He's played the New Orleans
Jazz and Heritage Festival, Philadelphia Blues Festival, Eureka Springs
Festival back in Arkansas, the San Remo Blues Festival in Italy and the
Northsea Jazz festival in the Netherlands, among other prestigious gigs.
He recorded a television commercial for MCI, "singing about how my telephone
bill was too high." He even played for the inauguration celebration of
fellow Arkansas native President Clinton!
In Santa Cruz we're lucky to be able to hear Robert playing with his
longtime musical partner, Virgil Thrasher, at Lulu Carpenter's
every Saturday night.
Bob Lowery and Virgil Thrasher at Lulu Carpenter's