"SHANYTOWN" - Robbie Morris Interview

Stagelife Magazine is back with another local fan favorite - a band called "SHANYTOWN" !

Based out of Jacksonville Florida, this band has a following all over the U.S.A. !

Here's the current 2016 band members -

*Robbie Morris - drums - Former "Johnny Van Zant Band" drummer and great visionary of this band.

*Ronnie Morris - vocals, guitar - Folk round here call him "Lil Ronnie" in regards to his dedication to the late Ronnie Van Zant.

*Jerry Carr - Bass Guitar - Plays like he is ready for the big time - great guy and knows many songs that fans want to hear.

*Kevin Williams - guitar - Blistering Rhythm and Lead is what makes the band stand out - and a great songwriter for the band.

*Mike Owings - guitar - local fan favorite - wonderful guitar licks and great melodies make him a must see artist in the band.

We caught up with Robbie Morris while the band is in the studio in May - and here's the interview for the fans !


Thanks for taking the time between gigs to answer some questions for the fans !

How does it feel to play live music together with this killer band that has the fans wanting more at every show ?

Robbie Morris - "Shanytown", is blessed to have exceptional musicians. It's very exciting to think what lies ahead

Robbie, you founded the famous "Johnny Van Zant Band" with Johnny - and played with him 15 years.It must feel good to be on 5 of the famous albums and be included into the history of Southern Rock with the Van Zant family.Tell us what this experience has done for you and your new band SHANYTOWN ?  

Actually, "Shanytown" has not been influenced by the JVZ Band or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Many people say that my brother sounds like our Uncle Ronnie, but we don't agree; we think my brother has his own distinct voice, although he has the same stage "charisma" as Uncle Ronnie. And our music doesn't reflect Lynyrd Skynyrd or the JVZ Band, at least not intentionally; we don't try to emulate them.  We are just doing our own thing.  We have terrific lineup that includes two extremely talented new members: Mike Owings who played with David Allan Coe, Molly Hatchet, Allen Collins band back in the day, and numerous others. Jerry Carr (bass) who is well known in Florida for his prowess on Bass. And, of course, we have Kevin Williams (original member) who is known for his leads.

You and your brother are related to them as well ?

Robbie Morris - Being a part of the "JVZ Band" was a terrific experience, and a lot of fun. Johnny was 16, and I was 14 in our first band "Austin Nichols", which segued into the "Johnny Van Zant Band". So, essentially, we have been in the industry for well over half our lives. Both bands well prepared us for the ins and outs of the industry.My brother Ronnie and I, are the nephews of Johnny, Donnie,  and our late uncle Ronnie. Our mother was their sister, and she named my brother after uncle Ronnie --hence his moniker "Lil Ronnie". I was given Ronnie's middle name as my middle name.  We are blessed to have been raised in such a tight-knit,  strong musical family.

Robbie Morris - Your brother Ronnie was given a guitar by the late Ronnie Van Zant ? This moment must have been a dream come true ?  What did Ronnie Van Zant say to you two ?

Robbie Morris -  Uncle Ronnie gave my brother - "Ed King's 1959 Stratocaster", because my brother was a good guitarist even at that young age and our uncle expected him to continue with it, which of course he did. "Lil Ronnie" has an incredible ear and can play virtually anything after listening to it once or twice.  And, of course, he composes as well.

OK, tell us about this very cool New Song - called "Brother" -

What's the story line ?  Do you personally have a favorite track from the new set list ?

Robbie Morris - "Brother" is about best friends who follow different paths and drift apart. It is regret that makes one of the friends beg for the other to come home. The song has over 105,800 hits on Youtube and still climbing.

What is your current gig equipment ?  Brands you use onstage ?

Robbie Morris - : 5 piece  Premier drums, Marshall Stacks, Ampeg, Les Pauls, Strats, Gibson.

What is your input on the New Songs ? Any personal writing ? Producing ?

Robbie Morris -  We all have input on the songs and write them together, or if one member writes a song the entire band will develop it until we are satisfied with the outcome. I "produced" the first CD, but we have an exceptional well known producer on our forthcoming CD that we are now working on, who happens to be our uncle "Donnie Van Zant". We are very excited about this CD and can't wait for its completion. All the songs are written by band members, and Donnie collaborated on the song "With Me" written by "Lil Ronnie". We are thrilled to have Donnie on this adventure,  and thrilled he wanted to do this with us.

What message is this band trying to get across to the fans ? The fans have been fans from day one !  

Robbie Morris - We don't set out with a message per-se. We just try to keep our songs real and offer lyrics everyone can relate to.

What music are you listening to this month ?  Be truthful !

Robbie Morris - Honestly, I've been too busy to listen to music, but I like Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, oldies, you name it. I also like classical music, which is great for unwinding.

What song on the set list is your favorite to play live in concert ?  And the fans favorite ?

Robbie Morris - : It's hard to say a favorite song to play at concerts as we like all of them.  Fans have their own favorites. I'd say the top favorites are "Redneck", "Mexico" and "Fishing", and of course "Brother".

What is "SHANYTOWN" doing in 2016 ?  More tour dates ? Studio time ? Festivals ?

Robbie Morris - We'll be playing out, but at the moment we are working on our next CD.

Is there a DVD in the works of the show ? Fans would buy it for sure !

I can see myself personally watching it a hundreds times a month !

Robbie Morris - We'd love to make a DVD. We are scheduled to play a venue in the near future that will be filming/recording the event.  And we were recorded at the Arcada Theater in Chicago last year.

Do you play other instruments besides what we see onstage ?

Robbie Morris - Drums is it for me. I love guitar but don't "play" it. I play at it! The guys dabble in other instruments like keyboard and harmonica, flute, but their main instruments are guitar and bass.

What is next for you personally in music ?

Robbie Morris - - Keeping on doing what I am now. And continuing to hone my craft. It has been my life.

What songs on the "New Song Set List" were the hardest to record ?   And why ?

Robbie Morris - On our current album I would say the song "Brother." It was far more complex than the other songs, but we got it right and are very proud of it.

Thanks for the killer interview , any last words or requests for the fans ?

Robbie Morris - Just keep being fans and spread the word! It may sound trite, but we really do love and appreciate our fans.  And get ready for our next CD !

Here's a few links to the band - Go check out all the cool photo's !

Facebook -  https://www.facebook.com/SHANYTOWN-123471091008066/

Band's Email - shanytown1@earthlink.net

Band's Website - http://shanytown-band.com

Band's webstore for MP3 downloads - http://shanytown-band.com/mp3-store

Make sure you "Like" the band's Facebook Page - and ours !

Catch the band on tour in the U.S.A.,  and grab the New MP3 Downloads - They Rock baby !

We'll be back with more music news from "SHANYTOWN" this Summer - stay tuned for details !
Leon Jonjock