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Robert Mabe of Drymill Road records first solo venture

Robert Mabe plays an ethereal banjo instrumental at Lost Rhino Brewing Co. in Ashburn. Times-Mirror/Hannah Dellinger
By Hannah Dellinger
Times-Mirror Staff Writer


After years of writing and planning, Robert Mabe, banjo player and vocalist for local favorite bluegrass band Drymill Road, is coming out with his first solo album.

Mabe has spent the past nine years touring the country with Drymill Road and playing alternative bluegrass with a classic rock twist. He decided now was the right time to put together “Somewhere in the Middle,” set to release in March. The songs tackle feelings of love, relationships and loss.

“It’s been a dream of mine to do this. I just wanted to take a different direction and try something else,” Mabe told the Times-Mirror. “I have been writing for this for probably two years.”

The title “Somewhere in the Middle” is a nod to the bluegrass style of Drymill Road.

“It goes back to what Drymill does,” said Mabe. “It’s not pure traditional. It’s not way out there wacky stuff. It’s somewhere in the middle.”

Lost love was the main inspiration for Mabe’s songwriting.

“Most of it’s about love. Being in or out of love,” Mabe laughed. “Even the instrumentals, even though there’s not words, I think relationships and love inspire almost everything on there.”

Mabe said although it is technically a solo album, the process was a major group effort.

“Even though I’m a banjo player, it’s not really a banjo album,” he said. “Its just good music. I had musicians and friends that I’ve wanted to record with for so long, so the other players got involved and shared the music.”

Mabe’s friends who contributed to the album include Clay Jones, a veteran guitar player who’s toured with big names like Mountain Heart. Fiddler player Patrick McAvinue, mandolin player Jack Dunlap and guitar player Dave Shepard are also featured on the album.

Creating his first solo venture has fostered a new inspiration for Mabe.

“I got so inspired doing this that I’m ready to do the next one,” said the banjo player. And I’m already working on it.”

Mabe admits he didn’t used to be the biggest fan of recording music in a studio.

“But this changed everything for me,” he said. “I love the studio now.”

The musician says he plans on performing solo to support his album after it is released.

In his years playing for all of kinds of audiences across America, Mabe says he can turn any music lover on to bluegrass.

“I’ve played places where the people have not heard banjo before,” he said. “They’ve come up and said, ‘I don’t normally think of myself as a bluegrass fan, but you guys have changed my mind.’”

For more information, visit www.robertsbanjo.com
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