SUCH A TREAT to have discovered the sweet, sassy, SUPER-TALENTED Southern singer/songwriter from NC (Emily Scott Robinson) who now lives on the road with her husband in their RV, writing and performing across the country and touring with bluegrass/grassroots powerhouses like Ben Sollee and the Kentucky Natives (Swedish American Hall). Equipped with an angelic voice and natural knack for storytelling, Emily gives us a glimpse into her wanderlust window, exposing us to the “traveling mercies” of life on the road and missing community and a home base. One of my favorite tracks from her set was ‘Better with Time,’ inspired by “the first place you live with someone you love” (which for her was a tiny one bedroom house in Colorado with a beautiful view). Another track that had my was a brand new one (finished only a few days ago) called ‘Ghost in Every Town.’ It was inspired by the monotony, desperation, and loneliness that she witnessed living for a short while in a small RV park in Oregon. The lyrics SLAY, and I could not help but get chills when she sang “The kinda desperate that forces you to kneel… The kinda howling you can only do alone.” WOW. But overall, it had to be ‘Overalls’ (her inaugural Patreon song) that stole the show. Written about her dear friend’s father who served in WWII and passed away this year, ‘Overalls‘ will touch your ❤️ and leave you in a puddle of tears/joy. It’s just so refreshing to hear stories veterans who were so grateful to be alive when they returned from war and who measured their wealth by their experiences and family/community (“I know I don’t have much to show, but I’m the richest man that I know”). I can’t help but smile to imagine this grateful fella who grasped every day as a gift and now looks back on his good long life with pride and appreciation: “So raise a glass to my good long life, don’t dress in black, don’t let me see you cry, I’m not afraid, I’m just headed home. It’s time to let me go.” Having released her debut album, “Magnolia Queen” just last year, Emily has started a Patreon page and will be releasing songs periodically while on the road. I sure hope her RV makes a very long pit stop in NorCal so I can see her again soon!
A bit numb standing next to one of the most INCREDIBLE CELLISTS and singer/songwriters (his vocals have the warmth of James Taylor and Paul Simoncombined) that I’ve EVER SEEN. Even though Ben Sollee is classically trained, he plays the cello in a very eccentric, electrifying way that carves a niche of his own. He ambitiously strings together elements of Celtic, folk, Americana, gypsy jazz, and African percussion to create a grassroots medley that is nothing but generic. This most recent reflection of this has been in his badass “bluegrass without borders” (what I like to call it) project with 4 friends on banjo, violin, bass, and drums that he calls “Ben Sollee and the Kentucky Natives.” Last night at the Swedish American Hall Ben and his buddies broke all boundaries of what is possible and had everyone’s jaws on the floor for most of the set. The coy call-and-response banter back and forth between the different strings had me laughing and howling all at once. You could get a sense of everyone’s personality just by watching them play, and it was obvious that this quintet is bound by more than just strings. I am just so amazed to watch friends doing watch they love and making the world a happier, more patient, more conscientious place because of it. The epic encore of Ben and the Kentucky Natives singing ‘Traveling Mercies‘ with Emily Scott Robinsonsure did leave me wanting more. Ben will cease to amaze me with his continued efforts to use music as a weapon against hate and injustice. It’s therefore not a surprise that he’s written songs called “It’s not impossible” and “A change is gonna come.” To Ben, anything can be done, even a tour across the states with a cello strapped to the back of a bicycle (yes, he did that back in 2012). You do not want to miss the chance to see him next time he rolls through town!