Arts and Entertainment

For the love of music

It’s not uncommon for people to wonder what would happen if they aggressively pursued their passions in life.

Singer Nell Robinson won’t have to face not knowing what could have been.

Robinson dared not to wonder any longer.

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, Robinson will bring her style of bluegrass and country music to Bainbridge Island as part of her Northwest tour.

Robinson is certainly a distinct voice in the realm of bluegrass, country and folk music. Distinct not only in her talent as a singer and performer, but her story is also unique as well.

“I am experiencing a lot of ‘firsts’ at the ripe age of 50,” Robinson said. “Up until a few years ago I had not sung in public since I was a kid.”

Music has been part of Robinson’s life ever since she was a child singing in an Alabama church.

“I sang in church as a kid and was one of those kids who organized the neighborhood into doing shows and musicals and inviting all the parents to watch,” Robinson said.

“We’d transform the basement room into a theater and have seats and dress up and dance and sing. It was such fun.”

But life took her on a different route. She opted to explore a career in political fundraising and organizing. For years, as she worked and began a family with her husband, her singing became relegated to the time spent in her car.

One day, however, Robinson decided to take a different path.

Starting in workshops and meeting up with other musicians, she began getting into the swing of music again and taking it to the stage. Her passion for music became even stronger, and success followed.

Now with two albums under her belt, and a few tours as well, her performance at the Treehouse Cafe on Saturday, April 21 will not be her first trip to the Northwest.

“We headlined the bluegrass show at Northwest Folk Life and they featured one of our live songs on their CD,” Robinson said.

“I love those guys, it was really fun,” she added.

She has previously moved audiences at the Juan de Fuca Folk Festival as well as venues in Seattle and Port Townsend.

“The Seattle live music scene is exciting and people loved the shows, we made a lot of new friends,” Robinson said.

Her music reaches back into the timeless traditions of American folk and its progression through country and bluegrass. It tells stories and poetically redelivers classics such as songs by Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn.

“One of the reviewers of my last album, ‘On the Brooklyn Road,’ said my music is ‘at the intersection of Americana, bluegrass, folk and country,’” Robinson said. “That’s perfect, I really like that.”

Robinson will bring guitarist Jim Nunally with her to the Treehouse. The two are currently working on an album together — Robinson’s third release.

“My duo with Jim Nunally features some of our favorites covers by Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, even Nine Inch Nails,” she said. “Local dobro master Orville Johnson will be joining us. That gives us a great chance to add some honky-tonk sound, which we love.

“We love to laugh and make fun, so we’ve got some funny songs too. And if you come to the show, don’t be surprised if we ask you to sing along.”

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