Robinella Headlines September 28, 2013 During Day of Music Near York, PA

It doesn’t get any better than an early fall picnic in a beautiful location with exciting musical entertainment all day long. in association with the Susquehanna Folk Music Society invites you to a family-friendly event featuring an open mic, post-concert jamming, and performances by Beggar’s Ride, 3 Dollar Suit, Kevin Neidig and Friends, and Robinella. It all happens on Saturday, September 28, at Elicker’s Grove Park at 511 Roth Church Road, near Spring Grove, PA.

Gates open at 11 a.m. with the Open Mic at Noon, Beggar’s Ride at 2 p.m., 3 Dollar Suit at 3 p.m., Kevin Neidig at 4 p.m., headliner Robinella at 5 p.m., and post-concert jamming until 6:30 p.m. It is a rain or shine event. Tickets are $18 General Admission and $16 for SFMS members. Children age 16 and under are free. Advance tickets and information is available through

Headlining the event, from Knoxville, Tennessee, is singer-songwriter and recording artist Robinella.

She will appear with her trio, including Mike Seal on guitar and Clint Mullican on bass. She has previously performed three times at the Wagon Shed (New Freedom) and at the Whitaker Center with guitarist Frank Vignola.

Art Wachter, of says that on stage Robinella is very high energy and very fun loving. “Her strong southern roots really come through,” he says. “She’s very at ease on the stage. You feel that you are in a living room instead of a concert. Her voice is so natural…when she sings it seems effortless.”

I had a chance to speak to Robinella last week about her past influences, her songwriting and her plans for the future.

FOLKMAMA: Tell us a little bit about your musical history. The kinds of things that you’ve done and the things that you want people to know.

ROBINELLA: I’m from East Tennessee and grew up on a farm where we grew tobacco and my dad is one of ten and the whole family is all musical. They all sing. And my grandfather played the Jew’s harp and my dad started at an early age with a bunch of his other brothers playing and singing and farming.

We would sing in church with my dad. I grew up going to a Baptist church. It was a really rural church. So I started like that and then I went to college and got kind of caught up with some other folks playing music and I got really interested in starting to learn to play guitar and I met a guy (Cruz Contreras ) and married this guy and we started our first musical group together called Robinella and the CCstringband.

And so for a few years Cruz and I, we really worked hard on our music, and I started to develop my own style but really initially I was just playing catch up to all the styles and stuff I kind of missed out on growing up like I did—you know jazz and some more pop things from earlier decades and rock and roll and the blues and I really got into bluegrass there for awhile.

There’s a lot of bluegrass here where I was from, but my dad never thought of himself as a bluegrass player. He just thought of himself as country. But there are a lot of places around here like Buttermilk Grove and Rocky Branch–where people would just get together and pick. And that’s really where I picked up a lot of music—having to just be able to jump in and play with whoever is playing and I realized that my background came in handy, especially if they were playing gospel songs. They’ll be playing and I’d say, “Hey, I know this song!”

So we spent a lot of time diversifying and playing as Robinella and the CCstringband, which we started pretty soon after we met. I was a singer and played guitar and Cruz was the mandolin and we did some pretty extensive touring and got a record deal (with Columbia Records). I continued to write more songs, and eventually, I feel I really developed my own style.

FOLKMAMA: So when the band was together, you called yourself a string band. So in those early years, was your music rooted in bluegrass and country? Was that the sound you were after?

ROBINELLA: It probably was. In the rural county where I grew up, that was a lot of what was around us. Cruz is from Nashville and his brother is a very accomplished violinist. He had made his start in bluegrass and Cruz had accompanied Billy on guitar so he had learned all that bluegrass stuff too.

FOLKMAMA: So when the band together was together, did you write songs then, or is it more sing you’ve gone solo that you’ve gotten into songwriting?

ROBINELLA: No, I wrote songs all along. I wrote the song for our first video which is called “Man Over” (  Uploaded in2009, over 85,000 views) and on our first Columbia album there was “Man Over”, “Mornin’ Dove”, “Honey, Honey Bee”and“Dress Me Down”– a song I wrote about being from East Tennessee and having a good family.

FOLKMAMA: Is Ode to Love your latest CD?

ROBINELLA: Yes, it’s my third solo album.

FOLKMAMA: And you composed most of the songs?

ROBINELLA: There are two not written by me; there is “Stardust” and “Over the Rainbow”.

FOLKMAMA: So, this really features your songwriting. Is this the first CD that you’ve made of mostly your own compositions?

ROBINELLA: No, I guess my first featured songwriting album was “Solace for the Lonely” (2006 Duotone Records). It came out after my Columbia record. I wrote all but one on that record. And followed by it was “Fly Away Bird” where  and I wrote most of the songs too.

FOLKMAMA: So when you come to us on September 28th, what musicians are you going to bring with you?

ROBINELLA: I’m going to bring Mike Seal who will impress everyone at the festival and people will say that he’s the best guitarist that they have ever heard in their whole life. And also a very accomplished bass play, Clint Mullican.

FOLKMAMA: And are your musicians acoustic or electric?


FOLKMAMA: So I know that you have your own style, but what can you say to describe the style that you will be playing?

ROBINELLA: It will sound a lot like what you hear on my CD “Ode to Love”. I write love songs, and I’ll play songs off that album. And I’ve got some country songs. But I probably don’t have as many country songs as you would think that a girl with my background would have, I don’t know why. I guess with all the stringy, earthy bands that are coming out of everywhere now– I guess I feel I was doing that 13, 15 years ago.  Now I want to discover some other kinds of songs, things that are new that I might want to explore and find out what they are about and mix that kind of material with my country, Baptist roots.

FOLKMAMA: And some jazz too.

ROBINELLA: I like jazz because I have a little more freedom with the melody and it’s good to do that. Although anymore I seem to be satisfied with singing a simple line. I guess I just had to show everyone that I could fancier stuff!

FOLKMAMA: Where do you think you want to head next?

ROBINELLA: Well playing for a folk festival like this is a really big deal for me. You know I haven’t seen your audience, but I have a feeling that they are going to be my kind of crowd!  Robinella3394-photo Art Wachter


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