Kim Robins – 40 Years Late

40 Years Late - Kim Robins“I started writing in 2007 and decided to put my songs on a demo CD. The engineer thought we had something special so we contacted some musician friends of mine and the CD was born. The title of the album and the song 40 Years Late represent my journey as a child musician who gave music up at 19 to raise my daughter to finding my way back today some 40 years later.”

~~ Kim Robins talking about the genesis of her debut CD, 40 Years Late

Born Kim Brummett, in Bloomington, Indiana, her father ran a band around the southern part of the state and she started singing with his band when she was five years old. Her mother’s encouraged her to sing out loud and practice daily. That dedication paid off and by the time she that was eight she was opening for major acts such as Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, the Oakridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, Freddy Hart and Barbara Mandrell.

She was an original, and the youngest, member of the Little Nashville Opry in Nashville, Indiana.

At the age of 19 she took time away from her singing career to look after her baby daughter.

In 2002 she met renowned banjo player Butch Robins and they married in November of that year; and her dream of performing music was reignited. With Butch’s encouragement, she started writing music and finding venues to showcase her powerful vocals – starting with singing backup harmony with bluegrass band Misty Stevens and Reminisce Road. Kim and Butch were divorced in 2006.

Since then, Robins has gained attention with her high-energy, contemporary sound, performing at a SPBGMA convention, at The Folk Alliance conference in Memphis, and opening for Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice at a Historic Jonesborough Bluegrass Series concert.

In June of 2011 when she was ready to record some of her songs, she contacted Butch, who not only offered to play banjo on the album, he gave his blessing to her using the title of one of his albums for this debut project of hers. Later, she engaged the help of Michael Cleveland, International Bluegrass Music Association’s nine-time Fiddle Performer of the Year; Jeff Guernsey, former fiddle player for Vince Gill, on guitar; and Lynn Manzenberger, formerly with The Wildwood Valley Boys, on bass. Cleveland’s mandolin player, Nathan Livers, also played on several tracks.

Local Indiana favorites Mark Stonecipher, Mike Curtis, Seth Mulder, Misty Stevens and Kent Todd, of the Not Too Bad Bluegrass Band, contributed to the recording of the album.

Richard Torstrick acted as engineer and co-producer.

As Robins mentions, song writing is a recent addition to her list of talents …..

Kim Robins“I had been recently divorced from Butch Robins, and I met a man at a festival that I was immediately smitten with. I had been staying in a cabin by myself all week during the festival, and something about this man inspired me to just pick up the pen and start writing.

I would wake up with a line or chorus in my head and the song would just come out. I never officially finished the first song I started (but I intend to someday), and some of the early work is pretty simple, but I have grown as a songwriter over the last six years.

I rarely write or have an idea but when I do, they come two-three at a time.”

At the core of the album are seven songs that Robins wrote. Here she talks about each of them …..

Cry – Written about a true story but as Bill Monroe once said “that story don’t need to be told.” Although the song is pretty self-explanatory, it did really happen, and I try to protect the parties involved by not listing any details. I wrote it in about 30 minutes and trying to record it was very emotional and very difficult. I cried most of the way and had to stop several times to get it out.

If You Lived Here – I am in sales and I always see signs along the road that say “If You Lived Here You’d Be Home Now.”

Before I started writing songs, I had mentioned to Butch that he should write a song with that tag line. After I began writing, I decided to go ahead and write it about a man who is always looking for a home when he had one all along with the woman he was with.

This is one of the early songs I wrote. I couldn’t find anyone who could tenor me since I sing it in a higher key, so I tenored myself and I love the way it came out.

Forty Years Late – This really started out to be a song about my dad and his influence on me, but it took a turn at some point and became more about me. My brother kept telling me the song wasn’t long enough so, I put it away about a year or so until one day while driving home from work the last part came and I finally finished it.

It wasn’t intended to be titled 40 Years Late, but I needed a word to rhyme with wait and the “I’m just 40 Years Late” was born. At that point I knew this was the story of my life and would be the title cut.

My father was diagnosed with heart failure in September 2012 and it looked as if he would not live to hear this song, or to hear the album, but we hurried to finish it and he thinks it is great. He told me he was proud of me, which was the desired outcome.

Another Place in Time – This song is the story of meeting the man who would inspire to me to write songs and the pain I felt when finding out he was unavailable. I had seen a twitter post that I thought was really cool. I had asked my twitter friend if that was a song and he said no. So I asked if I could use part of it to write a song and list him as co-writer. He didn’t want to be a co-writer but he did let me use his line. I changed it enough to not be a copy and the song just kinda wrote itself. It was one of those that came pretty fast. The musicians on the CD loved playing it because it was different and had a catchy melody. I had intended to end it totally different but my engineer convinced me to go up into my higher register and I think it came out pretty cool.

Heartache and Regret – Another song about the man who inspired me to write, and the pain of him being unavailable.

I have a strong country music background, and I wrote this song with that in mind. I had intended to start it cold with, “If I could just start loving you, I think we could be friends,” but Michael Cleveland thought it would sound better with a twin fiddle kicking it off. We ended up put a third fiddle on it, and it became more than I had envisioned. Even though it is one of the first songs I ever wrote, it is one of my favorites on the CD because of what the musicians were able to do.

I Want To Know – This is literally the first song I ever officially finished when I started writing in 2007. I had been at a family reunion and my cousin had just started writing country songs. I asked her to write me a Gospel song but then I woke up later that night with “Will we sing Amazing Grace, will we take turns leading the choir.”

I tried to go back to sleep but I kept getting woke up so I got up, got the guitar out and started writing. I was so excited that I called in sick to work the next day and played it all day long. On the CD we decided to slowly ‘build’ this song up by bringing in each instrument at different intervals. I also wanted a quartet sound because I had been inspired by Southern Gospel music when I was younger.

I was very happy with how this song turned out.

So Long – This song was really not written about anyone or anything in particular. I wrote it with a blues sound but thought I would change the melody for the CD to be more appealing to traditional bluegrass listeners.

My engineer played me some earlier works from The Nashville Bluegrass Band that were bluesy, so I decided to keep the blues feel that I written it with. It is a fun song to sing and really shows my true “diva” in the form of don’t mess with me.

I decided to add the door slam at the last minute and we spent an entire day trying to get the perfect slam that I could live with. This song ends my part on the CD on which my dad and Butch play two songs. I still get emotional every time I hear those two songs given how sick my dad is now.”

continued on page 2…

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.