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Uncle Eddie & Robin

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Short Bio

This quirky husband wife duo hails from Wheeling, West Virginia and hit the Florida music scene with a splash two years ago with their own genres of plunk rock, chant rapgrass, and beachgrass. They pride themselves on their thought provoking lyrics, and their tight two part harmonies.

 

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Just the two of us, summer 2015


Mockingbird

If I Fell

Get Together

 

 

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Uncle Eddie & Robin

Biography

Uncle Eddie 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???


Uncle 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.

 

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. 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.

 

Ed’s solo 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 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 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 Jacksonville.

 

An evening 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.

 

Instrumentation

"Uncle Eddie & Robin" Duet

Ed 'Uncle Eddie' Mahonen - Lead and Harmony Vocals,

Guitar, Banjo

Robin Mahonen - Lead and Harmony Vocals, Guitar

Discography
When We're Together - Uncle Eddie & Robin
My Own Words - Uncle Eddie

 

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Press Quotes

 "...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~

"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~

"
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. Mahonen's talents are in music, but he adds just the right amount of comedy to his songs. Laughter and music make for a great mix."
~
Graffiti Magazine~

"Ed was able to say in one song what it took me a whole album to say."
~ Joe Prichard of The Recipe

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Quotes