Flat Five Records

Sketches is a new album by five-string master Butch Robins that is both raw and upbeat. These sessions were recorded during rehearsals back in 2012 and 2011 and features Robins on the banjo, along with Tom Ohmsen on mandolin and backing vocals, John McBroom on bass and lead vocals, and Kris Hodges on drums and backing vocals.

I use the term raw because these rehearsals were initially recorded as a demo used to “try and get a few gigs.” Since then, the recordings have been cleaned up and released as a full album. Because these were rehearsals/jam sessions, the groove is melodic (as Robins’ playing usually is), loose, and adventurous. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a band spending a lot of time in the studio getting the right takes so as to produce a professionally sounding album. But instead, this inadvertent project is more free-flowing and raucous, though sonically and production-wise, it may be a little rough.

Sketches starts off with a Robins’ original called “Bluegrass Foggy Mountain Breakdown Mountain Express Stomp.” There are five other originals including “Hambone,” “Wake Up,” “Wayside Park,” and “Twelve O’Clock, Eh, Sonny?”  Ohmsen brings three compositions to the table with the instrumentals “Marlinton,” “Little Swing House,” and “Zocaca Bossa.” The covers offered here include a fired-up take on Townes Van Zandt’s “White Freightliner Blues,” The Beatles’ “Lady Madonna,” and Robert Johnson’s “Cross Roads.” They also rip into a bit of traditional fare with “Sailor’s Hornpipe” and “Sittin’ On Top Of The World.” (www.butchrobins.com.)DH

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