Americana Music Profile – After relocating to West Virginia in 2006, Robert Mabe (Banjo) joined the bluegrass band, Drymill Road, in 2010. There, along with band members Sean Loomis (Guitar), Doug Ross (Mandolin), and David Hurt (Bass), they became an international touring band, mixing old and new sounds with surprising twists and turns of musicality and phrasing. They’ve performed at Carnegie Hall, The Canadian Embassy, and private events including one for Secretary Madeline Albright.
Robert grew up in North Carolina, where he says, “there was no shortage of banjo players.” He recalls as a kid, on Wednesday nights, going to an old lawn mower repair shop for weekly jams fill with old timers picking the classic bluegrass and old time favorites. “My grandparents were into bluegrass as well,” he recalled, “and one day my folks bought me a banjo, and as they say, the rest was history. I fell in love with it and have been enjoying playing the banjo ever since. People would bring in food and it was just a big party every week based around bluegrass music. It was a huge influence on me,” he recalled.
As a songwriter, like many, Robert says he has a wide group of influences when it comes to writing songs. “Of course, I like Bluegrass music,” he said. “But I like pop, and jazz too, and every bit of that comes out in my music. I’ll have songs that are half way done for years before I get the right piece to come to me to be able to finish it.” Robert says for him, “it’s more of a practice that I work on all the time rather than a flash and it’s done.”
More recently, Robert has chosen to focus his attention on his new solo project, Somewhere In The Middle, that he showcased at the 2016 IBMA conference in September 2016. His new album is a collection of songs written over the last two years and features an all-star cast of musicians; friends that Robert has both worked with and admired during his career as a banjo player. “It is heavily bluegrass, but you’ll hear other flavors and note coming through as well,” Robert commented. “There are some ballads, and some Irish infused tunes too.”
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