BOBBY ATKINS Just Some Old Songs We Like To Play And Sing
Little Georgia Rose – She Has Forgotten – Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes – Pain In My Heart – Tears & Roses – Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms – Sweethearts In Heaven – Gold Watch & Chain – Corey Is Gone – Forever & A Day – I’m Coming Back But I Don’t Know When – Reunion In Heaven
Bobby Atkins, from the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, is one of the most solid and sincere banjo players Bill Monroe ever had work for him. What’s neat about Bobby Atkins is his incredibly strong desire to keep bluegrass music ‘inside’ the genre that it was established in. He took his training under Monroe, but he is also a ‘teacher’ of the genre. He remains true to the genre, even though he applies originality and ‘new’ to just about everything he does. He is so unlike the strange polarization that took place in country music, hardly a recognizable musical art form today. Rather, Atkins keeps his music in the family, so to speak. Joining him on this number-one project is Tony Mabe, who Bobby so kindly let play a solid lead banjo. It’s a studio produced album with Tony also playing bass, guitar, fiddle, and backup vocals. Heather Berry is on lead and backup vocals including rhythm guitar and bass. So what does the ‘teacher’ do on this CD? Bobby Atkins lends his legendary voice to the lead vocals.
Bluegrass music is quite different from country music today. In bluegrass there is a constant ‘sharing’ experience in the music itself. It’s reminiscent of early mountain music, even called ‘hillbilly’ music in some circles. What that means is, it’s a ‘pass along’ music art form. The basic instruments rarely change: Banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass, fiddle, dobro. This ‘sharing’ experience is paramount to the music itself. The music is constantly growing, though in some areas like the upper Midwest, it’s a slow process.
This particular CD is an even balance between sorrowful sad heartbreak songs of lost love, and hard driving true experience songs. It’s also full of rollicking good times like “Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms.” That’s why the ‘parts’ played are so easily interchanged between the players. Tony Mabe is a great banjo player, not to be denied. However banjo playing is a technique that has many different means of expression and timbre. I have consistently liked Bobby Atkins banjo playing because of his ‘expression.’ This doesn’t show up as well in Tony Mabe’s playing, mostly because his emphasis is in a different area. No matter what, it’s delightful bluegrass music, played at its best.
Bobby Atkins is in America’s Old Time Country & Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. He continues in his role as ‘teacher’ and pro recording artist in this musical art form. He’s also one of the best pro performers of bluegrass music. This one is a great representation of what he stands for in the ‘sharing’ of the music and the music makers he promotes.