Banjo maestro Butch Robins has recreated as a single, a song he wrote a couple of years back, and re-released it this year as a Christmas treat. It’s one called Holiday Toast, which combines an old fashioned wish for the season, along with some jaunty pickin’, some harmony banjo chimes, and even a special recitation!
Butch has been active in the bluegrass world since he was a young man, taking the five string spot with Bill Monroe after having won prestigious banjo contests near his home in southwestern Virginia. He also worked with Jim & Jesse, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, and Charlie Moore, before getting involved in the burgeoning new grass world of the 1970s. Robins was the first bass player with New Grass Revival, but left the group before their first recording.
A number of solo projects over the years have featured Butch as both a banjo player and a composer of music for the banjo, including Grounded, Centered, Focus, and 40 Years Late.
Now largely retired, Butch still teaches at banjo camps, and is looking to bring his new music to fans around the US, a sound that uses the banjo in different ways with a softer, almost lounge act sort of style. You can hear it in the sample from his updated version of Holiday Toast, using a rhythm section of organ, bass, and drums – and multiple banjos playing chimes in harmony – as a bed for his vocal.
Holiday Toast, and Butch’s banjo take on Sleigh Ride, are available wherever you find music online.
He also invites everyone to check out his series of videos prepared in cooperation with Radford University, in which he discusses his life and career in bluegrass music. A total of five presentations can be viewed online, offering both a history of bluegrass in the second half of the 20th century, along with Butch’s unique view of of the music, the industry, and the world. It’s something every banjo player should see.
You can find the videos online.