Robert Allena

Music has always been an integral facet of my life.  My grandfather was a craftsman who hand made brass mouthpieces for trumpets.  One uncle was a young violin virtuoso who played on live radio in New York City in the early 1930’s, another played piano and organ professionally, and my father was an accomplished harmonica player who once came to the attention of Roy Acuff in the mid-30’s.

I was thus exposed to all types of music from a very early age and probably knew as much about Big Bands and crooners as I did The Beatles and rock groups of the 60’s.  My earliest impression of the guitar itself was in 1957, when I saw Les Paul play his “Black Beauty” on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City.  (Yes, I am that old!)  To this day music is a constant in my home, with everything from Mahler, Sinatra, and Mancini to Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.

Still another uncle was someone who could play any instrument - guitar, accordion, saxophone, harmonica...if it produced sound, he could play it.  I began to play in March, 1960, when he (my first and only guitar teacher) and my aunt gave me my first guitar,  a plywood Kay Airline D4 from a Montgomery Ward catalog, which I still have.  (See the Gallery page.)

Armed with Mel Bay books volumes 1 and 2, I learned how to play.  However, my lack of patience moved me away from any formal study and I found that playing by ear was a quicker way to play more exciting and enjoyable music.  My new guitar teachers thus became radio, TV and our extensive record collection.  One album, Chet Atkins in Hollywood,” was particularly important to me as I played along with it until it seems the grooves (and my fingers) wore out.  (See more about this album in the Chet tab at left.)

Although I had always longed to be a professional musician the road I took was quite off that path.  Following a family tradition I was on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1971-1978.  After earning a Bachelor's Degree from George Mason University, I spent another 16 years as a U.S. Government officer where I was fortunate to live and work overseas.  My wife, Debra, and I were married in Vienna in 1986 and it is still my favorite city anywhere in the world.  (Needless to say my exposure to classical music benefited greatly by living there for so many years.)  I then worked in the private sector, mostly in management, until finally retiring in 2017.   Now I get to devote full time to the guitar which has culminated in the release of my very first album, “A Guitar on Christmas Day.”  

I had the great fortune of meeting Doyle Dykes last year at his Christmas concert at Randy Wood’s Pickin’ Parlor in Bloomingdale, GA.  He said to me that if you have a talent, you have a responsibility to share it.  These words from someone I (and so many others) consider to be one of the foremost guitar talents in the world have provided me inspiration to forge ahead with this first project, and I intend to work on another album during the coming year.  So, as they say, “Please Stay Tuned.”