Hunter Robertson & Casey Joe Abair
Gig Seeker Pro

Hunter Robertson & Casey Joe Abair

Band Folk Blues


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Rambles.Net - CD Sings Songs for the Masses"

"Listening to Songs for the Masses (that title comprising the album's one and only flash of humor), I reflected on how rarely these days one hears traditional songs -- field recordings aside -- performed traditionally. Even less commonly encountered are records by raised-outside-the-tradition artists who choose to recreate a sound that seems to capture the feeling of homespun front-porch, dance-hall, street-corner music from the age before the advent of the recording industry. (Since we have no recordings from back then to guide us, imagination and inference are as omnipresent in the attempt as "authenticity," of course.)

Hunter Robertson, who now resides in Vermont but who has lived in the United Kingdom, Greece and France, has produced that kind of record. The sole performer, he employs the banjo (along with the occasional fretless, gut-string or gourd variation) as his principal instrument, though 12-string guitar, electric guitar, kazoo and percussion also show up, if less often. There are 14 songs and instrumentals, approximately half of them traditional, the rest originals indistinguishable from traditionals.

Robertson sings in a rolling rumble that will likely put you in a couple of minds: Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart in one, in the other the sort of field recording in which an ethnomusicologist is seeking to document an instrumental style and the singing, rough as a cob, is simply -- at least from the immediate academic perspective -- extraneous. Contributing to the latter psychic impression is Robertson's sometime habit of burying his vocal into the mix, if "mix" is not too fancy a word to denote the almost skinless sound; sometimes, if one were a superstitious soul, one might imagine a 200-year-old ghost was accidentally captured on the tape as, otherwise inaudible, it sang to Robertson's playing of an old tune. All of this, by the way, is perfectly fine by me.

The banjo playing -- as exquisite as it is eccentric -- has the creaky ambience of a haunted house. "Banjo Medley" is 5:37's worth of four venerable tunes played clawhammer style, the last of them a Greek folk piece that feels in no way out of place. The African-American spiritual "Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dyin' Bed" has Robertson's growled lyrics set on top of a fierce, doom-laden 12-string groove. It is damned scary.

'Til now, I have not heard a version of "Red Wing" -- though long since absorbed by tradition, it began its life as a pop song in the early 20th century -- so stark and gloomy as to make one forget just how dopey the lyrics are. Even so, what a melody, all the more attractive for the way Robertson manages to turn it inside out without killing it. In another sit-up-and-take-notice moment, he gives "You Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" -- always emotionally and rhythmically dead-on -- the one-man-band treatment.

Songs for the Masses is for neither the masses nor the timid. But if you're up for a walk through the lonesome valley that stretches across the moonless landscape of the old, weird America, Robertson will show you the way."
- Jerome Clark writing for Rambles.Net (2008)
- Rambles.Net (2008)

"FolkWorld - CD Sings Songs for the Masses"

"...Hunter's delivery is raw and archaic. I don't know what the masses say, I guess they take it rather indifferently, but so mustn't we."
– FolkWorld (Germany) - FolkWorld (2008)

"Sing Out! - CD Sings Songs for the Masses"

Hunter Robertson is a modern day banjo songster. Sings Songs for the Masses is his first CD, and it’s a solo effort through and through with Hunter playing all the instruments and establishing a wide range of sounds all the while remaining solidly rooted in traditional old-time and blues.

Although his biographical information is sketchy, the cover photo shows a young man and the promotional material states that he has been playing the banjo and 12-string guitar for nearly 20 years. If I had to guess from listening to the CD, I’d say he’s a much older man. His voice is deep and resonant, and his playing is very reminiscent of Doc Boggs and various Piedmont blues players.

The CD opens with “Threw Down,” one of the half dozen original selections on the recording. It is a short drop-thumb clawhammer banjo piece demonstrating that he is a fine player. “She Had Eyes” follows, a tune that could easily have been heard on a plantation well before the Civil War when African American workers could only play music on whatever happened to be around them. Hunter performs on a self-made instrument called an Opus. It is a piece of music remarkably unaffected by modern styles.

We are introduced to Hunter’s singing through his rendition of “Pretty Polly.” His voice would indicate a life surrounded by the horrors described in the old-time classic. “You Gonna Need Someone On Your Bond” features Hunter as a one man band as he supplies slide banjo, bass drum, high hat, kazoo and vocals. He realistically captures the sound that was quite prevalent in many southern towns on court day. Later, Hunter includes “Milo mou Kokkino,” a Northern Greek tune, as part of a banjo medley containing “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” “Ducks on the Millpond” and “Salmon Tails up the River.”

Hunter Robertson is a highly talented traditional musician. Sings Songs for the Masses is as strong a solo CD as I’ve heard in quite some time.

- TD for Sing Out! (v. 52/2 - 2008)
- Sing Out! v. 52/2 (2008)

"The Old-Time Herald - CD Sings Songs for the Masses"

When you live far away from most other musicians, say on Crete, you will probably develop your own styles and write your own songs after wearing out all the recordings you brought with you. On this album, the artist composed about half the songs and tunes; the rest are traditional. His voice is distinctive, sounding like an old blues singer, filtered through a rock musician such as Eddie Vedder. The banjo playing is solid clawhammer with a light, sure touch. Not traditional old-time music as I know it, but eclectic and distinctive.

- Pete Peterson writing for The Old-Time Herald (June/July 2008) - The Old-Time Herald June/July 2008

"Musical Traditions - CD Sings Songs for the Masses"

"So - this is the second CD I've received this month for which the words 'strange and worthwhile' seem appropriate..." "All of the playing is pretty quirky - and extremely interesting..."
- Rod Stradling - Musical Traditions (Feb. 2008)

"Variety - Score for documentary"

"Hunter Robertson's banjo-driven score is apt accompaniment for doc's emotional highs and lows."
- Variety (in reference to the score for The Ostrich Testimonies, directed by Jonathan VanBallenberghe) - Variety (2008)

"Trad Magazine Review of CD Sings Songs for the Masses"

"If I hadn't seen the picture of Hunter Robertson on the CD cover I would have thought I was dealing with an older person. But no, in fact he's a fairly young man. And that's what is amazing! At times you would think you were listening to an old 78, but recorded with modern technology. Impressive! Hunter's main instrument is the 5-string banjo, which he plays to perfection in all the old-time styles: clawhammer, two and three finger picking. Also the 12-string guitar, which is less common nowadays. I consider this to be one of the best CDs I've heard recently. To listen to, first of all, his compositions on the banjo: "Threw Down" and "Souris Mécanique", and then his very beautiful version of "Red Wing" on the fretless gut-strung banjo as well as "Crawdad Hole" on the 12-string, a little treasure."

"Si je n’avais pas vu la photo de Hunter Robertson sur la jaquette du CD, j’aurais cru avoir affaire à une personne d’un certain âge. Mais non, en fait, il s’agit d’un tout jeune homme. Et c’est cela qui est étonnant ! On croirait écouter un vieux 78 tours par moment, mais enregistré avec la technologie moderne. Bluffant ! L’instrument de prédilection de Hunter est le banjo 5 cordes qu’il joue à la perfection dans tous les styles de l’old time : clawhammer, two et three finger picking. Et puis aussi la guitare douze cordes, ce qui est moins courant à l’heure actuelle. Je considère que ce CD est l’un des meilleurs que j’ai entendus récemment. A écouter en priorité ses compositions au banjo : “Threw down” et “Souris mécanique”, et puis sa très belle version de “Red wing” au banjo fretless à cordes en boyau ainsi que “Crawdad hole” à la douze cordes, une petite merveille."

- Claude Vue writing for Trad Magazine (France) - Trad Magazine

"Bluegrass Unlimited Review of CD Sings Songs for the Masses"

Hunter Robertson is an old-time music musician from New England who has compiled an unusual 14-song collection blending both traditional and original material. Hunter performs all vocal and instrumental parts that include banjo, fretless banjo, 12-string guitar, kazoo, and electric guitar. Robertson's raspy vocals may not be universally acceptable, but they do fit into the fabric of the arrangements. Featured performances include "Pretty Polly," Robertson's own "She Had Eyes," "Ol' Virginee," and a bizarre rendering of "Crawdad Hole." In spite of its title, Hunter Robertson "Sings Songs For The Masses" may be of limited interest except to those daring souls prepared to venture into unexplored territory.

- Bluegrass Unlimited (Sept. 2008) - Bluegrass Unlimited


Hunter Robertson and Casey Abair - 2008 Demo.

Hunter Robertson (solo) - Sings Songs for the Masses.



Hunter Robertson - Born in California, I've been playing clawhammer & fingerpicked banjo as well as 12-string guitar for about 20 years. I've released one album of traditional and original tunes, Sings Songs for the Masses, independently. Reviews from Sing Out!, The Old-Time Herald,, Musical Traditions and others are included. I’ve also written and performed the score for a documentary, The Ostrich Testimonies.

Casey Abair - Born and raised in Vermont, Casey has been playing guitar for 20 years and old-time and Irish fiddle for the past 15.

Fereale Robertson - the black sheep in the group! She hails from France and has played classical clarinet, French accordion, and sung in choirs.