Stumbling Upon Greatness

Robinella and the CC Stringband (Columbia)
Robinella and the CC Stringband

By Larry Alexander

I just keep coming across phenomenal entertainers as I scan CDs at my favorite local bookstore. Strolling through the other day, I sampled Robinella and the CC Stringband: country, bluegrass, blues - the ultimate in crossover. Robinella Contreras has a voice with clarity that is unsurpassed. She wrote or contributed to six of the 12 cuts. The tunes range from "Man Over" with a strong country flare to "Tennessee Saturday Night" with the classic swing theme. Honestly, "Tennessee" just makes you wanna dance.

"Dress Me Up and Dress Me Down" is a ballad celebrating Americana and the little girl growing up to womanhood. This song really pulls at my heart and makes me want to see my granddaughter.

I listen to this CD and think of sitting under the stars at Merle Fest; I close my eyes and I am there. "Mornin Dove" reminds us to always tell people special to us that we love them. "Sweet Honey Bee" is a showcase of Robinella's jazz/blues range. I could swear that Grappelli is backing up on this track.

Throughout the CD we have musicians who could compete on any stage. "Always the Same, Always the Best" is just a fine ballad. My favorite cut is "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand," a traditional gospel. I always love old gospel songs sung as if from the heart. "Candy Coated Valentine" sounds like a classic, but it is an original with the Grappelli sound. "Marie Laveaux" is my second favorite: Cajun swing/blues with a great story that just makes you smile - the lyric "too damn ugly for a rich man like me" gives you a hint.

I really, really want to see Robinella and her band in concert -- hopefully at Merle Fest or another open-air forum. If you love Americana Folk, buy this CD. If you are just in love with super talent, buy this CD. It's one of the best I've bought in years.