WUMB March Program Guide

Perry’s Choice for Album of the Year

I’d like to thank Mrs. Wolf, my 8th grade History teacher.  It would be weeks after the term before I realized she had been giving lectures.  I had thought she was telling stories of the events in our textbooks.  Who knew they could be both?Because of Mrs. Wolf’s ability to give lectures like stories, I grew up liking History. If you are both a fan of history and a music fan, you might find the new release by Nell Robinson pretty fascinating.  As soon as I heard the story behind the album, I was hooked…without having heard a note.  Nell has been able to trace her family’s history of service in wars for 250 years. 

Let’s do a little quick math.  2014-250 = 1764.  That means going back to at least the Revolutionary War.  How to humanize this history?

Through family letters and photographs Nell has been able to tell some of their stories.  They combine proponents and protesters.  On the album The Rose of No-Man’s Land, she uses spoken word from letters, along with various songs.  There are a couple of original songs she and her songwriting partner Jim Nunally wrote.  And then there are covers of other songs, including a recent one Rodney Crowell gave to the project and a song from Guy Clark’s 2013 album My Favorite Picture of You.  Guest singers include Kris Kristofferson, John Doe (who sings Mel Tillis’ “Stateside”), and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot (who sings Johnny Cash’s “Drive On”).  Actress Kathy Baker and author Maxine Hong Kingston lend their voices to readings of letters.

But this is very much Nell Robinson’s baby.  It stems from her family.  And as she said in her in-studio interview at WUMB, the project has been developing in performance for six years.  It’s been a stage show as “Soldier Stories”—having premiered in 2008 at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California.  And now as an album release, it has grown to a new phase.

Nell Robinson & the Rose of No-Man’s Land.  The album is available through Amazon. com.  You may then feel inspired to give some good listens to the stories of your family.


Happy Holidays-
Perry Persoff 

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