Santa Barbara sound/recording engineer Robinson Eikenberry left behind a legacy of love after passing away in 2017. Be Love Now is the just-released tribute album honoring the area legend that features musical contributions from nearly 40 area artists and was arranged by his mothers, Mary Jane Franus and Mary Beth Norum. I reached out to those who worked with Eikenberry about their memories of the widely loved and loving sound engineer.
Alastair Greene: Being in the studio with him was so much more than getting sounds and recording songs. He really did create an amazing space to grow as a soul and a human. He listened, he advised, he produced, and he taught. I feel blessed to have spent so many hours in the studio with him recording my songs as well as playing on other people’s albums. He connected me with a lot of wonderful people that he worked with and he became one of my dearest friends.
Ben Meisel: Prior to my becoming a pediatrician and working with camps for children with complex medical conditions, I trained as a sound engineer. Unlike the studio as a place where music gets made, work gets done, and money is exchanged, working with Robinson in the studio was more like intense introspection, play, and achieving spiritual nirvana with a best friend. Robinson sought the humanity in every person he encountered. … Robinson was like a universalist monk or Buddha turned musical playmate. At the Be Love Now celebration, one of Robinson’s friends described working and being with Robinson as being like playing in the sandbox … an amazing sandbox.
Jamey Geston: The last day I saw him, we spent about two or three hours just walking and talking. We walked all over the place; he showed me his favorite places, said hi to all his neighbors … I got a chance to see what a day in the life of Robinson felt like. We had so many conversations that day, many of which changed my perspective on how I felt about myself and where I was in life, and where I was headed. We also picked some poppy flowers off the side of the road and felt like rebels because we broke the law!
Jesse Rhodes: Robinson had a special gift of being able to read people and know exactly where they were at and what they needed spiritually and emotionally. He was a deep dude with a superhero-level compassion. Also, he was very funny and centered around pure love, a potent combination. He saw divinity in everyone, so naturally he made everyone feel really comfortable, supported, appreciated, and able to do their best work.
Jim Connolly: In a way, I don’t have any “special” memories of my time with him in that I feel like all of it was special. The specialness would start with how he would greet you at the beginning of the session, and it would end with the feeling that you had done something that was “the most you” that you could muster. And it was because of him. It sounds so simple. But it’s incredibly rare for somebody with that much technical skill to operate on that level also. I feel completely ruined as far as wanting to record with anyone again. … I have a solid feeling that he was called away on some kind of business. If I could ask him a question, I would love to know, what’s so damn important compared to the good work you were doing?
Glen Phillips: I love that he approached everything from a spiritual place. He wanted to help someone make the best recording they could make, but more than that, he cared about why they were writing, what they were trying to say, and how it was helping them evolve. … He changed my life a few times: introduced me to the world of spirit, introduced me to the mother of my children, and was there for me for roughly 30 years as the person I could talk to about anything.
Sierra Reeves: Robinson lived in my house, in my old bedroom! One of my favorite memories is getting a text from him saying “Hey! Your iTunes just popped up on my computer!” Something about the shared WiFi. It happened a lot; he would text me telling me he was discovering a new artist in my iTunes, and then we’d talk about the music. I talk to him all the time, even now. I ask for advice, like, “Okay, if I was in Robinson’s studio right now, what would he say to me right now?” And I hear his response so clear, like reminding me to choose love, to laugh and be silly, and to remember not to take everything so seriously.
4•1•1 | Be Love Now is available for purchase at robinsoneikenberry.com. There is also currently a documentary film in the works, I Ain’t Scared: The Robinson Eikenberry Story, helmed by Casey McGarry. See tinyurl.com/RJEStory.