St Augustine Local Talent
Uncle Eddie and Robin
In Their Own Words:
"One reason we chose St. Augustine was the incredible art and culture, and most of all, the vibrant music scene we heard here on our very first visit. I stopped Eddie in the middle of St. George Street, and said, "LISTEN!" You could hear three live musicians in one spot on the open street. We love this town we have chosen as our new home.
Uncle Eddie & Robin are a husband wife musical duet performing eclectic and diverse music on guitar and banjo, and we pride ourselves on our harmony vocals. Since we arrived in Florida, we also use the name, "BeachGrass". We moved to St. Augustine just over a year ago from West Virginia, where we played for years on the midwestern Appalachian music scene. We hope to continue playing our music here in Florida, and in our new adopted home in the Ancient City. We play original songs, classic rock, bluegrass, and contemporary music.
Ed “Uncle Eddie” Mahonen was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts, not your usual breeding ground for bluegrass music. He began his musical career in grade school with piano, later moving on to trumpet. But one night, he found himself at what was then called, a “hootenanny”, and was instantly drawn to the call of the banjo. He is also accomplished on guitar and bass, and dabbles with the tuba. His rich velvety baritone voice completes his presentation in bluegrass, folk, classic rock and other musical genres. After graduation, he spent some time in San Francisco in the 60’s, where he was influenced by the singer-songwriters and poets of the era, and he also spent a summer hitchhiking across Canada and the US, with his banjo slung across his back. Passing through Wheeling, West Virginia, he got into a jam session with some locals and quickly fell into the young progressive bluegrass scene. Before long, he became a fixture on the local scene, with the band “West Virginia Grass”, and also made his first appearances on the legendary Wheeling Jamboree. This period culminated with his participation in the band, “Castlemen’s Run”, and with traditional bluegrass with Pittsburgh’s “Beaver Creek”, and with “The Short Crick Flatpickers”, one of West Virginia’s premier bluegrass bands. His easy going demeanor and booming laugh made him a favorite with Jamboree audiences in the 90’s when he did solo spots of bluegrass, novelty songs, jokes and funny stories, and also gave him the nickname "Uncle Eddie."
Robin was raised in the Big Apple, and is the daughter of Grammy nominated and internationally renowned jazz trombonist, Jimmy Knepper, who played with such notables as Charlie Parker, Herbie Mann, Benny Goodman and Charles Mingus. Her mother Maxine was on the road as a touring musician at the age of 16, and was a member of racially integrated all female swing bands in the 1940's who traveled below the Mason Dixon line. To avoid arrest for violating Jim Crow laws, she had to wear dark makeup to "pass" as black, and these fascinating yet terrifying experiences of this era were extensively quoted in the book, "Swing Shift". As a result, Robin grew up with a very strong feminist influence, and was listening to music from birth. She has fond memories of jam sessions lasting late into the night as she drifted off to sleep as a little girl, and her early musical influences were shaped by some of the most notable jazz artists of the day. She played piano at age 8, picked up her first guitar at age 14, and played her first coffeehouses shortly thereafter. After a brief hiatus of twenty years from music while she raised her family as a single mother, and pursued a career as a social worker, she returned to the music scene with a vengeance. She brings her born and bred musical ability and her deep understanding of pathos and the human condition to every note she sings Since her move to St. Augustine, she has started writing a book about her parents and growing up, "In the Shadow of Jazz."
Ed met Robin, appropriately enough, at an open mike jam night which he hosted in Wheeling. Their chemistry was immediate. At this time, Ed was associated with the midwest jam band, “The Recipe”, and his cutting edge explorations and signature sound clearly comes through on their CD, “Jubilee”. Bandleader Joe Prichard commented on Ed’s original song, “One Eye Laugh”, “Ed was able to say in one song what it took me a whole album to say.” During this period, Uncle Eddie and Robin became a fixture at summer jam band festivals, and were much beloved by festival goers who sought them out for a pat on the back, a shared joke, and, if desired, a gentle bear hug.
Ed’s solo CD work, “My Own Words”, is a compilation of ten original songs, including the often requested “West Virginia Farm”, and the amusing, yet socially poignant “Plain White Rapper”, which leaves audiences scratching their heads. As a duet, Uncle Eddie and Robin have one CD of original material, titled,
"When We're Together”. They are currently working on their next CD: "With a Lotta Help From Our Friends." The tracks range from straight bluegrass, to country, to a New Age-y sound, and even to what they call, "plunk rock" and "chant rapgrass". Ed uses a variety of different types of banjos and displays several different banjo styles, and the music is interwoven and coupled with frequent instrumental guest artists and even tribal drumming on several tracks. In addition to their original music, they enjoy presenting different arrangements to classic tunes that did not originally have banjo, which results in slightly warped songs such as "Simon and Garplunkle", "Lady GaPlunk" and "Plunk Foyd" genres. Stylistically, they are all over the map, and yet they expertly craft their shows to the particular taste of their venue and their audience.
Uncle Eddie & Robin were hosts of the longest continuously running open mike jam night in the upper Ohio Valley. They also operate a recording studio, ELM Cottage Studio, out of their home, and enjoy helping aspiring young musicians produce their own original music.
Uncle Eddie and Robin have appeared in the midwest at the Wheeling Jamboree, Nelson Ledges, the Highland Jam, Heston Farms, and numerous other local and regional venues. Since their arrival in Florida, they have appeared at numerous open mike nights around town, as well as the Romanza Festivale, Mi Casa, City Coffee, and the Mill Top in St. Augustine, and at the Pioneer Settlement Folk Festival, and in venues in Crescent Beach, Bradenton, and Jacksonville. They were finalists in a recent singer songwriter night in Flagler Beach, and are appearing regularly at City Coffee.
Here are some things people have said about Uncle Eddie and Robin:
"Love souls like Uncle Eddie & Robin. I never saw up close a banjo player pick so natural." ~ FaceBook post following a performance in Columbine, Colorado
Ed has been “…a force in West Virginia music for over thirty years”
“He has respected and preserved the rich musical traditions of the region while keeping it alive and evolving by taking it to new and unexpected places.” ~ West Virginia’s “Graffiti” Magazine
"...the songs truly connect with the audience. Lyrics really hit home in many instances, and are often full of wit on one hand, and reflection on another."
~ CD Connection, Review of "When We're Together".
"The title track, a joint Uncle Eddie and Robin songwriting effort, is packed with humor, yet seldom has a more touching song striking the true union of two individuals been written......Listening to the duo is not simply hearing the music, it is a window into a joining of souls, of wonderful, salt-of-the-earth souls."
~ R. Scott Stewart, Wheeling Rock Depot, 11/14/2008, Review of "When We're Together"
"Their sound is rooted in the Appalachian music tradition, but because of their respective backgrounds, they have a quite broadened perspective of what that means..... Don't write the sound off as straight bluegrass or country, because the Mahonens' veer into the great beyond, to New Age and what they call 'chant rapgrass.' "
~ Monica Orasz, The Charleston Daily Mail, 2/25/2010~
"One of the Ohio Valley's most dynamic musical duos brings a unique mix of ingredients and years of musical experiences to their act.... The chemistry between Robin and Ed Mahonen is apparent on many levels. For one, they are a husband wife team that harnesses decades of their two distinctive musical backgrounds which cross paths with their collaboration. They proudly stay grounded in their roots, and that pride resonates throughout their new CD, 'When We're Together'...... So what happens when you bring a quirky seasoned bluegrass man together with a girl with jazz royalty in her DNA? 'When We're Together' captures that unique mix..... Regardless of the songs they play, Uncle Eddie and Robin put their own flavor to it."
~ Eric Ayres, Ohio Times Leader, Ticket 10/30/08~
An evening with Uncle Eddie and Robin is like sitting down for an evening with old friends. Kick off your shoes, put up your feet, and open yourself to a musical experience which will make you laugh and cry, think, and then laugh again."
Uncle Eddie & Robin
Web Site: http://www.uncleeddieandrobin.com
304 559 4264