Butch Robins

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Joseph Calvin "Butch" Robins (born May 12, 1949) is an American five-string banjo player with his own distinct style of picking. He's an individualist and, according to himself "a seeker of information, knowledge and wisdom".


Robins was born in Lebanon, Virginia and began to play the banjo in the 1960s. Eventually, he became proficient in both Scruggs style and Keith style of playing. In his teens he attended local fiddlers' conventions and soon found work at the Bean Blossom, Indiana Festival. When Robins got drafted and was stationed at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, he began playing guitar with Snuffy Jenkins and Pappy Sherrill in Columbia. After the army, his first job as a professional banjo player was with fiddler Kenny Baker on his album "A Baker's Dozen" in 1970. In the early seventies, Robins worked with artists such as Charlie Moore and the Dixie Partners, banjoist Vic Jordan, dobro player Tut Taylor, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Jim & Jesse, mandolinist Buck White, Leon Russell and the New Grass Revival.[1] He recorded a solo album for Rounder Records.[2]

In 1977, Robins was offered a job with Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys, and he played banjo with the group for four years. He formed The Bluegrass Band in the early 1980s but after a year the group broke up. Robins temporarily retired from music to pursue a business school degree, but returned in 1986 to play with The Bluegrass Band. Through the 1990s, Robins continued to play with artists like Kazuhiro Inaba, Wayne Henderson, and Kathy Chiavola.

Robins married Kim Brummett on November 2, 2002. He lived in Bloomington, IN until they divorced in 2006. Robins ex-wife Kim Robins has gone on to produce and release a debut CD named after one of Robins former albums Forty Years Late. Butch Robins played on all but 2 tracks. Kim Robins leads a bluegrass band currently under the name 40 Years Late.


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas; Vinopal, David. "Biography: New Grass Revival". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Trischka, Tony, "Butch Robins", Banjo Song Book, Oak Publications, 1977

Further reading[edit]

  • Tony Trischka, Pete Wernick: Masters of the 5-String Banjo, Oak Publications, (1988).
  • Butch Robins: What I Know 'Bout What I Know: The Musical Life of an Itinerant Banjo Player, 1st Books Library, (2003).

External links[edit]