Uncle Eddie & Robin
and Robin, “Not Your Typical Old Folkies”, are a dynamic and
eclectic musical duet with a flair for the old and a taste for
the new. Their energy belies their age, and the breadth of their
life experience makes for a rich and rewarding musical evening.
This husband-wife team combines guitar, banjo, and their voices
in stunning, tight harmonies on songs that pack a punch. Their
musical chemistry, personality and sound is unmistakable. They
are recent transplants to the Florida music scene, hailing from
West Virginia, and have performed for decades in the midwest.
Imagine: a bluegrass banjo player, and the daughter of a
legendary jazz musician- it’s unthinkable? Or is it???
Eddie's wildly imaginative banjo playing, silky vocals, and
intelligent, witty songwriting make him a joy to hear. His style
incorporates elements of bluegrass and folk, which he has shaped
into a unique and original blend which he terms, “plunk rock”.
West Virginia’s “Graffiti” Magazine said Ed has been “…a force
in West Virginia music for over thirty years” and through
numerous appearances on the Wheeling Jamboree, the hard core
traditional bluegrass of the Short Crick Flatpickers, and the
rocked out jams of The Recipe, “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.” Not
just another folk 'n bluegrass musician, he applies his velvety
baritone voice to his original material, and has been known to
"rap" along with his more traditional renditions. His newest
collaboration with his wife Robin has added a new dimension and
texture to an already eclectic musician.
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. Despite the
derision and snickering of his high school friends and
family, Ed practiced and persevered with his instrument, and
has honed it to the surprising sound you hear today. 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 served in the Navy in
San Francisco in the 60’s, where he was influenced by the
singer-songwriters and poets of the era. Following his
discharge, he 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”. “We were
playing jamgrass in the early 70’s, before the term had been
invented. We were just doing what came naturally to us.” He
also made his first appearances on the legendary Wheeling
Jamboree. This period culminated with his participation in
the band, “Castlemen’s Run”. Throughout the 80’s, Ed played
traditional bluegrass with Pittsburgh’s “Beaver Creek” band,
and recorded two albums with them. Ed also toured statewide
and regionally for over 30 years 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."
Ed met Robin,
appropriately enough, at an open mike jam night which he hosted
in Wheeling. Their chemistry was immediate. Robin is the
daughter of the late Jimmy Knepper, Grammy nominated and
internationally renowned jazz trombonist, and Maxine Fields
Knepper, a strong independent woman who was already on the road
with female swing bands with her trumpet at the age of 16, well
before anyone had ever coined the term “feminist”. Robin was
listening to music from birth, and has fond memories of jam
sessions lasting late into the night as she drifted off to sleep
as a little girl. 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 four children as
a single mother, and pursued a career as a social worker in
private practice, she returns 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 her
every note she sings. Ed was also 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, he and Robin became a
fixture at summer jam band festivals, and were much beloved by
festival goers who seek them out for a pat on the back, a shared
joke, and, if desired, a gentle bear hug.
work, “My Own Words”, is a compilation of ten original songs,
including the often requested “West Virginia Farm”, and “Let ‘Em
Eat Cake”, 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:
"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, "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. Stylistically, they are literally 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 are
available to help aspiring young musicians produce their own
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 the Romanza Festivale, Mi Casa and the
Mill Top in St. Augustine, and at the Pioneer Settlement Folk
Festival, and in venues in Crescent Beach, Bradenton, and
with Uncle Eddie and Robin is like sitting down 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 &
Eddie' Mahonen - Lead and Harmony Vocals,
Robin Mahonen - Lead and Harmony Vocals, Guitar
When We're Together - Uncle Eddie & Robin
Own Words - Uncle Eddie
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,
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,
"Duet Delivers Unique Musical Experience"
"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~
respected and preserved the rich musical traditions of the
region while keeping it alive and evolving by taking it to new
and unexpected places.
talents are in music, but he adds just the right amount of
comedy to his songs. Laughter and music make for a great mix."
"Ed was able to
say in one song what it took me a whole album to say."
Prichard of The Recipe