common / Crossroads Weekend

Interview with Robbie Mann

Morgan County Native and Bluegrass Musician
Ryan J. Fischer

Robbie plays below his flag at Glenville State College.Robbie plays below his flag at Glenville State College.The rich land of Appalachia creates a beautiful sound, a reflection of the image we see before us when greeted with its endless mountains. This is why the traditional music of this land— bluegrass, folk, and the like, resonates so clearly with the people and towns themselves. Robbie Mann is one native of Morgan County who studies and continues this traditional music. As fiddler in the Glenville State College Bluegrass Band, Robbie shares a his knowledge on the history of Bluegrass as well as a finesse for the music and playing in general. 

We settled into a casual, and easy conversation. Mr. Mann remained laid-back and pleasant throughout our time speaking and—to me—an open and down-to-earth person is refreshing when the music industry’s denizens come to mind.

What sparked your interest in playing music?

“Well, when I was younger I was homeschooled, mind you, so around the time that I was five years old my parents decided that some sort of influence with the Arts would be a fairly crucial part on my education. The fiddle just happened to interest me the most through this time and until now really.”

What instruments other than the fiddle do you like to play?

“I enjoy plucking around on the guitar or the mandolin or the double bass. Primarily the stringed instruments.”

What caused you to pursue Bluegrass as a profession?

“I had always listened to the old-time music, and then one of my teachers in classical music started throwing traditional music like Folk and Bluegrass at me to learn and ever since then I had gotten hooked on playing that."

Have you composed and refined any of your own works?

“Yes, actually, the band that I play with the most, The Allegheny Ramblers, just finished recording for our first album and that will hopefully come out by the end of August. We have a great group of guys that have been willing enough to put a few compositions of my own onto the city.”

Do you have much emotion invested in the music that you play or the music that you have created?

“Well there definitely an overwhelming sense of emotion when listening to music, and this is the same way when playing most music on stage. I had the pleasure of playing on WBOW and had a chance to play one of my own songs on air. I really went rather silly about it and it turns out that people really like it there. So really there is a type of uncertainty associated with performing my own music just because I can’t anticipate the audience’s reaction.”

Has charity had any direct affect on you?
“As an artist, it’s always been a joy to me to have people like the music that I play. I would be just as willing to play for a meal or even just playing them a tune that they enjoy to help lighten up their day a bit. The community as well had had an affect on me in terms of charity.”

Do you think a person’s take on the history of a style of music can affect their appreciation for it?

“Absolutely. I always take the opportunity to throw in cheap shots in the hopes that they might spark an interest in Bluegrass and other types of music.”

With entering your final year at Glenville State College, will you be able to continue your work with the Bluegrass Band or will you move on to new endeavors?

“For the following year, that is until Spring 2015, I will be playing with the band. For as long as I am a student, I am required to do my ensemble as a major part of my class work as well. After I end this year, however, I may be invited back as an alumni guest to either play or make speeches, so after my education I basically plan to see where my work with The Allegheny Ramblers takes me.”

It seems clear that although Mann will leave the Glenville State College Bluegrass Band next spring as a full-time member, he has an organized and prospective future, especially with the release of The Allegheny Rambler’s first CD.

To learn more about Mann, his endeavors, and the bands he plays with, visit http://www.glenville.edu/academics/fa_bluegrass.php and https://www.facebook.com/thealleghenyramblers

 


 

Return to top