As bands often do, Butch Robins’ Imagicnation began as a mere jam session. The way they came about recording their recent project was even accidental. During regular band rehearsals at Tom Ohmsen’s studio in Salem, VA, they began tracking solely with the intent of having a demo to send to local venues in hopes of booking some shows. However, the music that this new group has released is no coincidence, and happens to be very well thought-out and calculated.
Their first album, Sketches, is out now from Flat Five Press & Recording. Powered by the innovative Butch Robins, the band includes Kris Hodges (drums & vocals), Tom Ohmsen (mandolin & vocals), and John McBroom (bass and lead vocals). Imagicnation exists as somewhat of an acoustic jam band that plays interesting covers and fun originals. Transcending a wide array of genres, Imagicnation pulls from the repertoire of artists like Robert Johnson and John Lennon and Paul McCartney to fill in the gaps between their original numbers.
This album provides a truly unique listening experience while being largely instrumental. It includes nine new original pieces written by members Robins and Ohmsen. Not only have their tunes been influenced by funk and blues, but jazz seems to have impacted their music profoundly. On one of Ohmsen’s instrumental pieces entitled Little Swing House, Robins even quotes a bit of the Gershwin song I Got Rhythm within his solo.
The band’s choice of material is unique to say the least. There are currently very few musicians of any style who continue to perform tunes like Lady Madonna which was made famous on a 1968 release by the Beatles. Also, their fresh arrangement of the time honored tune Sittin’ On Top of The World is particularly interesting to traditional music fans due to its boogie-woogie flair. Not only have they recorded tunes outside the normal realm of bluegrass, they also play obscure pieces like Duke Ellington’s Caravan and BB King’s Thrill is Gone at their live performances.
Having worked with artists like Kenny Baker, Jim & Jesse, and Leon Russell, this former Blue Grass Boy has yet again proven himself a formidable foe on the banjo with his latest endeavor, Butch Robins’ Imagicnation. If you’re tired of 1-4-5 drive, you might just want to give the album Sketches a listen. For more information about the band, visit: www.flat5.com.