Dobros donated to Brent Burke

Robert Cline, Jr. presents Brent Burke with his father's old guitarsIf only it was always this easy…

Brent Burke, reso-guitar man with Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, had spent part of this summer researching vintage Dobros. He’s thinking about doing a solo album later this year, and wanted to record a couple of older reso classics to pay tribute to Josh Graves, whose music he has studied intently since he was just 7 years old. And in order to capture the vibe of Josh’s older recordings, Brent knew that he would need to use a vintage guitar.

While looking into acquiring one, his boss lady (and mother-in-law) received a phone call from Robert Cline, Jr., a name that resonated from her childhood. Rhonda had recalled Robert’s father, Robert Cline, Sr., as the reso-guitarist with Umy & The Goodtimers, a popular bluegrass band from Oklahoma in the 1970s and beyond.

Robert had contacted Rhonda to say that he would like to donate his father’s old guitars to Brent, and this past weekend he met up with the band at a Bob Evans event in Ohio. On the bus between sets Cline presented the two guitars to Burke, who says he was mighty proud to receive them.

“I was more than grateful to accept them; they were exactly what I was looking for. One is a Regal which looks to be from between 1933 and 1941. The other is a Dobro brand, but not quite so old – perhaps a ’60s model. They are in really good shape and sound great.

These older ones carry a whole other life about them than the newer instruments, a different tone. They haven’t been played much the past ten years, so I’ll have to break them in again.”

Brent said that he hadn’t been aware of Cline’s Sr.’s music until recently.

“I had heard of him through Rhonda, who spoke of him often. But now I’m newly familiar with Robert and his band.”

Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time someone has showed up bearing dobros for Brent.

“When I was 9 years old I had someone give me an instrument, a newer Regal guitar. This guy saw me jamming with my family and he came up and said, ‘Brent… I want to give this to you.’ He had started trying to learn and decided to give it up. I still have that one which I saved as a keepsake. I had been playing one that my uncle had made for me in ’97. It was my first ‘real dobro.’ “

Burke’s current plans are to spend much of December, when Rhonda and the boys take the month off from touring, to get songs and tunes together for this first solo project. The only tune he knows for sure he wants to include is Bashful Brother Oswald’s Dobro Chimes, which Burke performs occasionally on stage with Rhonda.

Here he is playing it at Dumplin Valley in 2012 in a video captured by Ted Lehmann.


So the lesson to everyone is to start looking for your dream vintage instruments, and someone will show up and give you one. If you are a top pro player with one of the biggest touring acts in bluegrass, that is!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • Robert Cline

    Hello. I thought I would give a bit more to the story as I am Robert Cline Jr. Dad had quite a few Dobros, and the two I picked have some fun history. My dad first got started on the Dobro after a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed. While recovering he began to play and actually started with a Hawaiian steel guitar….He gained some style and moved to the Dobro. His first Idle was Bashful Brother Oswald. My dad introduced Os to me when I was 4 years old. I was quite shy and it took him allowing me to hold his big pocket watch to get me close enough for dad to snap a picture. Dads style was fashioned by his two fellow players Josh Graves and Oswald. I sat many hours on a stump, a chair, the back of a pickup truck listening to the three of them jam….way into the night. Both Josh and Os played the Dobro Brent received. Dad heard about a minister in Mt. Vernon who had sung with the Osborn Bros…I think…His name was Ray Anderson and he was a guitar player and singer….they were having a music revival….second night my dad was on stage playing dobro for every group that week. We met Molly O’Day and Dottie Rambo that week and of course dad got to play for both of them. Dad would take us to the bluegrass festivals and all day and after the shows there were pickers and singers in their groups… I bet I’ve met everyone who ever sang or picked an instrument in bluegrass and gospel music. Dad picked one night with Willie Nelson, it was really cool cause Willie was kind of a hippie and I wanted to be a hippie too…Unclouded Day I’ll never forget it. So the Dobro Brent received holds a lot of memories. I had finally realized neither of my kids were going to play and I felt they needed to to be placed with someone who would want them and play them and well love them…I reached out to a group and never heard back from them. I knew Rhonda Vincent …who doesnt…and I knew she had a Resononic guitar….(Dobro player)…ha ha…and I spent a few days in front of my computer searching and listening to all that I could find of Brents picking….and he can sing….I prayed about it, felt right in it and reached out to Rhonda through facebook…..Now, I have known her work and her personality on stage for years as one of the kindest people…but when I reached out, she replied…within an hour…knew who dad was and was so very excited for Brent. It was right…I didnt ,nor have I had a second thought or a regret about it. We made an arrangement to meet ( I got to go on the bus **very exciting**) I met “The Rage” and Brent and of course Rhonda….I blithered like a star struck idiot…ha They were all extremely kind.