Charlie Robison is about as ornery as they come. Full of spit and vinegar, the Texas-born singer-songwriter is cleverly blunt and sometimes sarcastic, both in his music and in person. But just mention his next project, a baby boy with his wife, Dixie Chick Emily Robison, and even the Bandera bad-boy turns all giddy.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Robison told CMT News backstage at a recent stop of Robert Earl Keen’s Texas Uprising. “I just got off the phone with her a little while ago, and he’s kicking up a storm. You know, we’re first time parents, and it’s definitely a complete miracle. You can’t believe there’s something in there kicking that much.”
Emily Robison announced she was expecting at the VH1 Divas Las Vegas concert in May. She showed off her growing figure a month later at the CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards in Nashville, where she was all smiles and compared bellies with a pregnant Sara Evans.
The Robisons made no secret of their attempts to have a child during the Dixie Chicks’ hiatus last year. Their happy news comes at a time when Emily is poised to kick her career back into high gear with the release of her band’s long-awaited album, Home, on Aug. 27.
Charlie, too, is on the road a lot, playing dates with Keen and making the honky-tonk rounds on his own. The new arrival will be an adjustment, but they’ve had other examples to follow. Dixie Chick frontwoman Natalie Maines was pregnant with her son, Jackson Slade, during the band’s last tour, and Charlie’s brother, Bruce Robison, and his wife, singer Kelly Willis, welcomed their first son last year.
“It’s just going to take a lot more extensive planning,” Robison explains. “I was on the road with Faith Hill, and I remember backstage I was picking her brain. She had everybody [her family] out there with her, and I was just like, ‘Okay, you’ve gotta show me where on the bus you put the strollers and everything.’”
As Emily’s schedule heats up, Charlie is keeping busy working on a new live album, set for fall release. The collection, a follow-up to his 2001 album Step Right Up, will include previously recorded tunes and a few new ones. He has recorded 10 shows over a seven-month period but wants to capture one more concert to get some of the songs right.
“We didn’t quite get it exactly like I wanted it, so we’re going to go back and try to catch those last ones, then we’ll be ready,” he said. “Our live show has just been our bread-and-butter over the years, so it was just about time we capture it on tape for the people who haven’t seen it yet.”
While the Robisons both have new projects on deck and they’re anxiously awaiting their son’s debut, Charlie says there’s one thing he doesn’t want to share anymore with his pregnant better half.
“She does wake me up in the middle of the night at 4 a.m. going for the sandwich, and I’ve gotten to where it’s like, ‘Make me one!’ he says. “I’ve gained about 15 pounds, but luckily at 6′ 4″ it doesn’t show that much. I hit 15 and said, ‘That’s it. That’s enough of this sympathetic pregnancy.’”