I have known Butch Robins for several years now and never tire of hearing him talk about music, life, or whatever he wants to talk about. At times I would visit him and as soon as he got on a roll with something I would just sit back and listen and soak it all in. Butch doesn’t pull any punches when he talks- he tells a story “warts and all” but it’s honest and real. He’s not out to glorify himself or run anyone else down, he tells it like he sees it and that is something I have always loved about him. When he tells a story he has an amazing ability to remember names and dates and is able to keep them all organized in his telling, all the while keeping the narrative entertaining, personable and honest. I thought it would be interesting to film him talking about things and approached him in October 2012 to see how he felt about it. Much to my delight, after a few false starts, he told me he would like to give a talk on the history of Blue Grass music and agreed to let me film it.
Over the next several weeks, I talked in great detail to him about what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it, at the same time I talked to my colleagues at Radford University and investigated what exactly I could do in terms of camera equipment, people and editing. I did a lot of personal research on his topics so that I could be an effective part of the process too. When all of that fell into place and all of the details had been seen to at the University, I went back to Butch and finalized everything and made a plan to film his talk early in the new year.
What I did not ever exactly decide on though is what we would call this. Is it a film? That sounded too much like it was acting and it was not that at all. Is it an interview? I didn’t actually ask any questions so that didn’t sound right. Is it a lecture? That seemed about right but not quite. I decided it was a film of a series of talks about the History of Blue Grass music. It’s not a catchy name but I think it’s an accurate description. But let me get back to what I came here to tell you about-
Early in 2013 two of my colleagues from Radford University John Hildreth (from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning), Mike May (from McConnell Library) and I (McConnell Library Archives and Special Collections)traveled to a lovely old log cabin nearby and set up our cameras and lights, struck a set and over the next several Wednesdays, sat down to the most fascinating and entertaining series of talks I can remember. Butch sat on a bench between his beloved banjos and gave us an amazingly detailed history of Bill Monroe, his music, and true stories of life on the road with Monroe. After a good bit of prodding, I convinced him to also give us the Butch Robins story- his life, music and to play banjo for us on the film. He gave us a lot those days and we captured it all on film.
Over the last year or so, Mike and I , and later John and I have been editing this film and gathering photos and music to help illustrate the story. It has been a very big project and although we are not finished with it, we are nearing completion. In celebration of that, John and I would like to show this short preview of the series of talks. We will make an announcement when it is all complete but in the meantime, please enjoy this glimpse.
|Butch Robins History of Blue Grass Trailer
http://vimeo.com/75499136 About this video:
“A teaser for the upcoming multi-part series of banjo master Butch Robin’s narrated history of Blue Grass music.”