Here are a few of the hundreds of current and former students I have worked with over the years. This page will be continuously updated as new pictures and videos become available. If you would like to be included here, contact Rob.
Sit in on a real lesson with one of my 12-year-old hotshot pickers, Jake McCarter from Cookeville, Tennessee. Listen to Jake do some bluegrass flatpicking, and some electric tunes by Hendrix, R.E.M., Stevie Ray, and Guns and Roses.
(Available in HD on YouTube)
Cary Brothers is a successful indie recording artist, currently residing in Los Angeles. His song "Blue Eyes" was featured on the Grammy-award-winning soundtrack to the movie "Garden State". He has toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe, and has a growing fan base. Check out these links:
Caroline Kole came to me in 2011, referred by Sony/ATV Publishing. She is already a seasoned singer/songwriter/ performer, having been doing concerts and various gigs around her home state of Florida for several years already. She has recently moved to Nashville to pursue this career full force, and she is already signed to the biggest publisher in the Nashville music industry (Sony) and is represented by Starstruck Entertainment, one of the top-flight management companies in the biz.
Normally I am pretty skeptical of young starlets approaching me about guitar lessons, because often singers, and specifically, girl singers, DO NOT LIKE TO PRACTICE !! (I speak the truth--sue me !!) When Caroline came to her first consultation, I asked her to play and sing something for me, just to see "where she was at". She pretty much floored me with a cool, big voice, a cool original song, and a strong rhythm guitar style that pretty much made me think John Lennon or Tom Petty was standing in my studio rockin'. Caroline is without a doubt a big natural talent, and she has the work ethic to go along with it. I can barely stay ahead of her at her lessons, she melts my face week after week !!!
I am very honored to be working with a young person of such obvious, true talent, and with a great personality to go along with it. I have met very few people "in the industry" who have it together like she does. Caroline Kole is the real deal.
Her website is: www.carolinekole.com
Here is a collage video of some of the highlights of her appearances in 2011, featuring one of her songs, "I Just Wanna". She does shows with her own band. She has opened shows for Reba, Martina McBride, Blake Shelton, and Kellie Pickler, and has performed onstage with Sheryl Crow and Charlie Daniels.
Garrett Hedund is a successful young actor who was referred to me by a movie production company in November 2009 so that he could realistically play the part of a guitar-picking country songwriter in a Nashville-based moved called "Country Strong" (originally titled "Love Don't Let Me Down"),which was scheduled to start filming two months after his first lesson, in January 2010. He was a total beginner, but by the end of his first lesson, Garrett was strumming and singing a couple of Waylon Jennings songs, just like a real picker. Check out this great link to an interview Garrett did around the movie's premiere where he mentions the time he spent working with me (the mention is about half way down the page). He is a great guy and I bet he will have a long and illustrious acting career, because he is serious about his work.
UPDATE (May 2010): Garrett has just been chosen for the lead role in Jack Kerouac's modern classic, "On The Road". This is the definitive novel of the Beat Generation, which was the immediate predecessor of the 60's youth counter-culture. This could be an important movie, and a cool movie. Congratulations to Garrett.
Court Clement is a great guitar player, lending guitar work to recordings by Marc Broussard, Mindy Smith and Griffin House. He started out with me in the 7th grade as a beginner. Check out this video of Court layin it down with Singer/Songwriter Marc Broussard.
Keith has played bass in every hip band in Nashville for the last 12 years or so, sometimes several at a time. He and his band Lifeboy, which also featured talented guitarist William Tyler, another Rob Jackson Studio alumnus, signed a major recording contract in the late 90's when they were still in high school. The legend has it that Seymour Stein of Sire Records (who discovered Madonna, the Pretenders, the Ramones, Talking heads, etc.) flew into Nashville and signed Lifeboy in study hall at University School. Now that's what I call rockin'!!!! Here are some other of Keith's bands to check out:
My So-Called-Band (with former student David Paulson)
De Novo Dahl, live at Bonnaroo !!!
Check out Keith in this excellent article from the Nashville Scene talking about his experience with De Novo Dahl and the recording industry - Nashville Scene
David was the leader of The Privates, and he and Keith Lowen played together in that band, as well as their current, popular 90's cover band, My So-Called Band. David is one of the best rock guitarists I've ever taught. He can really play!! Here's David playing with The Privates at the world famous Exit/In and doing a Counting Crows song with My So-Called-Band at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville.
Tom Douglas is one of Nashville's most respected #1 songwriters, with big hits by Tim McGraw (My Little Girl, Grown Men Don't Cry, Southern Voice), Martina McBride (Love's The Only House), Lady Antebellum (I Run To You), Collin Raye (The Gift), Miranda Lambert (The House That Built Me), and many others to his credit.
Tom has worked hard for many years establishing himself as a top Nashville writer, although piano is his primary instrument. He started working with me in 2008 and has since penned several major hits on guitar.
In August 2010, Tom Douglas was featured in an article about songwriters in The Wall Street Journal. The cool thing about this online article is that it features audio clips of "The House That Built Me", a huge #1 hit for Miranda, including a clip of Tom's original demo track with him singing and playing piano, a sadly beautiful version that I think is stronger in many ways than the hit version.
In November 2010, Tom Douglas and his co-writer Allen Shamblin received the CMA award for Song Of The Year, "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert. This song was also produced by one of my former students, Frank Liddell. Congratulations, Tom !!!
Early 2011, Tom and co-writer Allen Shamblin nominated for Grammy Song Of The Year and Country Song Of The Year.
Here is Tom performing the original version of the song at the Key West Songwriters Festival in April 2010. This is before the song won CMA and ACM awards, and two Grammy nominations.
Here is a video of Miranda Lambert at the 2010 ACM Awards performing the song.
Matt Urmy is a rising Americana star. He was a student of mine during his high school years, then spent several years "paying dues" in the music scene around Knoxville. His first album has received strong critical acclaim from the Americana community. In the fall of 2010, Matt hosted a sold-out show at 3rd & Lindsley which featured many of Nashville's finest indie artists. I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more from him in the future.
Minton Sparks is a nationally-acclaimed performance poet and writer with an impressive resume of published books, recordings, and performances. I got to know her several years ago when she studied guitar with me and I was honored to be asked to participate in the development of her now legendary live show. She is considered to be one of the most talented wordsmiths in the South.
Richard Speight, Jr.
Richard is a successful West Coast actor who was born and raised in Nashville. He took guitar lessons from me when he was in high school and is one of the nicest, coolest, and funniest guys you could ever meet. Check out the link to this interview, because it has some of the best advice I have ever read about succeeding in acting (or for anything else, for that matter). Here's a picture of Richard from "Band of Brothers".
Richard is currently being featured as the Pepsi MAX truck driver in the popular Pepsi commercials along side baseball greats like Ozzie Smith, CC Sabathia, and celebrities like Snoop Dogg.
The White Animals
The White Animals were a Nashville-based, college-oriented band that was, during 1980-1987, arguably the most popular rock and roll band in the southern U.S. They toured all over the Southeast and other areas of the country, played at legendary clubs in New York city, had a video in regular rotation on the fledging MTV network, and could draw bigger crowds on southern campuses than even bands like REM. If you were in college anywhere in the South between '80 and '87, you probably heard the White Animals at least once, and possibly a number of times (if you can still remember it!!)
The White Animals began in late 1977, my first year of teaching professionally, when Kevin Gray, M.D. walked down the street from Vanderbilt Medical Center where he was doing his residency, and signed up for guitar lessons with me at Cotten Music Center. We soon discovered that we had a strong mutual passion for rock and roll and rhythm and blues, especially the Beatles and all the great 60's bands. We decided to start working on a band together, and we made our debut at a little basement club called Phranks'n'Steins on West End in August 1978. Our little gig became a big hit with the Vanderbilt kids, and early in 1979 we added Phil Doss on bass and Joe Loftis on drums, and "went electric". We soon needed a larger venue to accommodate the crowds, so we approached the owner of an old drive-in barbeque place on 21st called the Smokehouse. This place had a REAL stage and a dancefloor, and became an instant hotspot, later changing owners and becoming "Cantrell's". I decided to leave the band at the end of 1979 (New Years Eve gig) due to the type of constant ego clashes and drama that accompany anything that starts out small and gets big fast, which was the case with the White Animals. But the fact is, we were a good band, and that's why we were popular. Kevin Gray kept the band together for 7 more years, and guided them through hundreds of shows all over the U.S. They put out several albums of mostly original material, and have had a number of successful reunion gigs in the last few years. They are still a well-loved, legendary southern party band. Rock on, boys.
Here are two video clips of my favorite White Animals song, "This Girl of Mine" by bassist Steve Boyd. One clip is a professionally-done video from the 80's which was probably meant for MTV. The other clip is just an amateur shot of them at their October 2009 reunion gig at the Crow's Nest bar in Nashville.
William Tyler started guitar lessons with me when he was in the 7th grade. By the 10th grade, he had become a cool young rocker and he and one of my young bass students (Keith Lowen) started an original band named Lifeboy. A demo of Lifeboy's songs made it to the New York Office of the president of Sire Records, the label that put Madonna, The Ramones, and the Talking Heads on the map, among others. The president flew into Nashville and signed the 17-year-old members of Lifeboy to a recording contract in study hall at University School (as legend has it). Sire Records subsequently was taken over by another label, and the Lifeboy album was never released, but all 3 members of the band have since had busy careers as indie rockers.
William Tyler has toured with a number of respected indie bands, including a number of years with the critically-acclaimed band Lambchop, but his crowning achievement so far has been the release of his first solo guitar album, "Behold the Spirit" (AmazonMP3 | iTunes), which has garnered critical acclaim by NPR and the New York Times, among others. William is a major-league composer of instrumental guitar music.
Here are a couple of videos that showcase his awesome guitar skills.
Keep up with him on his website.
Tom Kimmel is one of Nashville's greatest singing and songwriting artists. He was one of my students at Cotten Music in the 1980s, right before his first major label album came out on Polygram Records. The last time I heard him play, in 2009, he had developed an acoustic guitar style that put James Taylor to shame.
Here's a link to an MTV video of a song from his first album, which I consider to be one of the greatest rock anthems ever written - "That's Freedom". Thats Kenny Greenberg on guitar (one of Nashville's most in-demand session players), and Nashville native Kelly Looney on bass.
Also, check out Tom's really cool website.
Dave Cloud took some guitar lessons from me at Cotten Music in the early 1980's. Several years ago, I started reading in local papers about some of Dave's wild, stream-of-conciousness, anything-goes performances at Springwater (one of Nashville's legendary hole-in-the-wall clubs).
Turns out Dave and his band The Gospel of Power are some kind of underground, alternative rock heroes in the UK. As I was surfing YouTube for clips of my students, I stumbled upon this crazy video of Dave Cloud and another group of musicians in a 2008 Budweiser commercial for UK TV (of all things..). This video also features Rob Jackson Studio alumnus William Tyler playing bottleneck slide guitar. You might also notice the subtle way each band member has a Bud can or bottle in his possession. The BBC is getting kind of CraZy!!! (finally)
Here's a link to Dave Cloud's website.
The GrasStains are a really good "weekend warrior" traditional bluegrass band from Nashville. Kirk Bowles, on guitar; Daniel Hart, on bass; and Tate McDaniel, on banjo, have all worked with me. These guys are true to the "high lonesome" sound and play the real stuff.
Here's a video of them performing at the ROMP Bluegrass festival in Owensboro, KY in 2009.
Here are some pictures of my student and friend Lauren Hagan performing at a big benefit concert that takes place at the Belcourt Theatre every year. In 2008, she did a great Loretta Lynn tribute performance which resulted in a standing ovation. In 2009, she paid tribute to Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. See if you can tell which picture is which!
Lauren also owns a really killer Gibson acoustic guitar that I plan on stealing soon. :)
If you see this person, please notify the authorities immediately! Raleigh Lane is wanted in several states for picking the banjo faster than what is currently allowed by law. He is a proud graduate of the 82nd Airborne Division, a serious outdoorsman, a retired moonshiner, and one of the nicest guys I know.
Owen & Powell Lowe
Owen Lowe is one of my young guitar students. He is working on his basic skills with an emphasis on bluegrass. Here he is with his brother Powell (the fiddler) performing at the Smithville, TN Fiddlers' Jamboree in July, 2009. You can expect to hear more from these guys in the coming years. Owen is an outstanding student - I am sure that in a couple of years, I will be taking lessons from him.
Andrew and Matt Cooper
Andrew and Matt are from Smithville, TN. They are two of my young students who actually PRACTICE!! Here's a link to a cool lo-tech video that Matt's dad made of the two of them jamming to the guitar solo at the end of "Stairway to Heaven". These are some serious headbangers!!! The scary thing is, Matt's dad is a doctor!!
Not to be outdone by his big brother, Andrew Cooper (12 years old) lays down the solo to Hotel California. Thats a pretty good shot for a guy that age, I didnt even touch a guitar until I was about 13.
Garry Tallent (E Street Band)
Garry Tallent worked on some rockabilly guitar songs with me for a while when he still lived in Nashville. He is a great guy and a real music lover. He collects guitars and vinyl records. He has played with Bruce Springsteen since they were in high school. Here's a link to his website.
Jason Perry is a bass player and a cool music fan who made the pilgrimage down to Macon, Georgia a few years ago to visit the hallowed ground of the Allman Brothers Band. Here are some pictures from Rose Hill Cemetery, where the Brothers used to hang out and party late at night near their band house. You will see the graves of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, who both died in motorcycle accidents early on, and were buried side by side in their favorite party cemetery. Also, nearby is the grave of one Elizabeth Jones Reed, who was immortalized in song by Dickey Betts in the classic instrumental "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed". Jason Perry is seen standing in front of the monument that was the scene of the Brothers second album cover (the famous "Jesus" shot).
Michael Rogers is a cool Nashville native who was in the Peace Corps and taught photography in Metro high schools for many years. He is the only guy I have ever known who actually encountered Duane and Gregg Allman when they lived in Nashville during their early years. Michael told me they had a little bunch of junior-high aged guys who used to cruise around on little Honda motorcycles back in the early 60s in the Whispering Hills neighborhood of Crieve Hall that was under construction at that time. He actually remembers Gregg being excited about the new guitar he got for Christmas one year, which is mentioned in the Allmans Brothers history "Midnight Riders" because of the irony of Gregg getting a guitar before his brother Duane, who became a legendary guitarist before his death at the age of 24. Michael is a serious photographer and gave me these photos of the two most important crossroads in America: The Highway 61 crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi where legend has it that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in return for being a great guitar player, and also the "crossroad" of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco (if you have to ask, you'll never know). Really cool pictures, Michael!!