Comprised of several San Francisco Bay all-stars, the Nell Robinson & Jim Nunally Band have a collective history that dates back well over half a century with far too many credits to count between them. Singer and sometimes solo artist Nell Robinson earned comparisons to Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin in between collaborations with legends Kris Kristofferson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and John Doe, while the group’s guitarist and jack of practically all musical trades has two Grammy Awards to his credit and a place right towards the top of the bluegrass crop.
Though personally penned tales such as “Complicated” and “Home’s Where I Long To Be” highlighted everyone’s seasoned abilities, their ability to change between the styles of Buck Owens, The Beatles, Johnny Cash and Doc Watson on a dime was even more impressive.
Joining them for the journey are lap steel player Pete Grant (The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Jefferson Airplane members), string bassist Jim Kerwin (Larry Blackshere, Red Allen, Del McCoury, YoYo Ma) and drummer Jon Arkin (Lee Konitz, Gene Perla, Ira Sullivan). Thus far, the results have been an unpredictable sampling inspired by all of the above, anchored in a classic country sensibility that’s a fresh of breath air in today’s assembly line industry.
The folks at PBS seem to agree, because not only is the Nell Robinson & Jim Nunally Band featured on director Peter Berkow’s current “Music Gone Public” series that seeks to expose the world at large to enormous talents, but the troupe also set up shop at the Sheraton Grand Chicago to perform for the 2016 PBS Annual Meeting. And even though it was more of a dinner and drinks type of crowd than a full-fledged concert affair, the musically passionate portion of the audience had no trouble settling comfortably into the southern grooves generated by material from the group’s ambitious four part “North, South, East, West” recording cycle, alongside some classic covers.
Though personally penned tales such as “Complicated” and “Home’s Where I Long To Be” highlighted everyone’s seasoned abilities, their ability to change between the styles of Buck Owens, The Beatles, Johnny Cash and Doc Watson on a dime was even more impressive. And somewhere in between the land of originals and remakes came “Turn Your Smart Phone On,” a post-millennial take on the similarly named bluegrass standard that injected some humor into this hearty display of somewhat under the radar artists more than worthy of the airtime.
For additional information on the Nell Robinson & Jim Nunally Band, visit NellAndJim.com.
For additional information on “Music Gone Public,” visit MusicGonePublic.com.
For additional information on PBS, including local airdates and times, visit PBS.org.