First reaction…How can someone just 11-years-old hold her own with seasoned musicians through 15 songs in a mix of bluegrass, old time fiddle and Celtic? Robyn Jesson in her first CD does just that and does it with great style. “Bluegrass and Beyond” is a collection of songs that reveals the talent of a rising star on one of the most difficult instruments, the fiddle. This CD is proof that music knows no boundaries such as age or gender…rather desire, talent and persistence are the only requirements.
Robyn teams up with some of the best musicians on the west coast; Craig Korth - banjo and guitar (Craig is a mainstay of Jerusalem Ridge from Edmonton), Rod Backman on bass, (Rod is a veteran bassist from Seattle), John Reischman – mandolinist (songwriter, producer and veteran of many West Coast bands), Robyn’s Dad, Jim Jesson – guitar, (Jim also produced the album)
Recording crew included Michael Donegani from Nanoose Bay near Nanaimo B.C., along with excellent mixing and mastering by Bruce Harvie.
From the opening tune Big Bear to the closing of Wheel Hoss, this is an album to cherish. Big Bear sets the stage…a rollicking fun tune where the musicians cook along in an almost jam session style, lots of innovation and drive. Lead breaks by Robyn, John and Craig are tasty and fun. Sally Anne continues the bluegrass flavour with the musicians getting down and gritty. Ashokan Farewell is a soulful and emotional civil war tune where Robyn’s fiddle delivers passion and emotion. Rod’s bow work on the bass adds a beautiful touch and John’s mandolin is sensitive and supportive. And so it goes…excellent work on each of the 15 well selected tunes, which demonstrates the talent of this rising star.
Being a Canadian fiddler, Robyn is working hard on the old time fiddle which is different style of fiddling than that of American bluegrass fiddling. The first demonstration of her award winning style is heard in the Medley tune and it is easy to understand why Robyn is winning awards in the fiddle contests where ever she competes.
Robyn’s treatment on the Celtic flavored tunes is beautiful. Memories of Shetland and Flowers of Edinborough will stir the hearts of the Scots for sure. Two waltzes get great treatment by Robyn and the band…Tennessee Waltz and Golden Memories.
A strong opening deserves an equally strong finish and this happens with the powerful presentation of the Bill Monroe classic, Wheel Hoss …talk about getting down! Robyn kicks it off with authority and the rest of the band gets up and goes. This tune is hot with gutsy picking from John and Craig. It would make old Bill proud.
Bluegrass and Beyond is a wonderful statement that Canadians are producing good music. This CD is first class, from the music presentation, recording, mixing, album layout and pictures. Robyn Jesson is just 11-years-old and has delivered up a mighty fine project. She is a credit to herself, her family and to the music she plays so well. Thank you Robyn!
by George McKnight - Bluegrass Canada Magazine