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Hank, Pattie & The Current to Release Rise Above on June 28, 2019


Chapel Hill, NC

June 24, 2019

Rise Above is Hank, Pattie & The Current's fourth album on Robust Records.

Music is an architecture of emotion that everyone has a hand in building. Whether you're the listener or the player, we all take part in the construction of this art. Hank & Pattie create emotion drawn from the deep well of their friendship, spanning a decade now. The songs, sometimes autobiographical, sometimes metaphorical, always both, channel emotion to the listener as part of a shared space we all inhabit. Their friendship shines through in the songs, and while they are not related by blood, they share a bond as great as any siblings. Rise Above is the culmination of their work thus far in Hank, Pattie & The Current. It's an album centered around the cohesive theme of rising above the fray, cutting through division and noise. Rising above to meet challenges and exuding a quiet, powerful strength that others can lean on, deriving inspiration.

It means rising above present levels as a band and presenting an album that is consistent, concise and emblematic of their evolution as musicians and humans at large. It also means rising above the current nationalist climate, speaking out against injustice and uniting people around love and community. It is touching heartbreaking, jubilant and care-free. It reflects the deep, emotional bond this two share with each other, their bandmates and the audience.

Bluegrass ambassadors and music educators Hank Smith and Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw are the driving forces of the energetic soulgrass band, Hank, Pattie & The Current. They take traditional bluegrass and infuse it with their own flair, drawing from a melting pot of styles including Latin and Jazz. They approach music and improvisation with deep emotion, lightning fast thought & reaction, and offer intricate, dulcet melodies, vocal harmonies, and lockstep rhythm. For them, music is an endless playground of texture, tone, and space that allows for pure joy in playing. This adds up to an authentic and unique reflection of American music.


About Hank, Pattie & The Current

Two of North Carolina’s veteran bluegrass musicians join forces with some of the Triangle area’s most versatile musicians to create modern, American, acoustic music featuring the full range of their talents as composers and arrangers. The band is on tour regionally and nationally in 2019 in support of their new album, Rise Above on Robust Records.

The band makes use of traditional bluegrass instrumentation in a nontraditional way to present original music to the listener that goes beyond the limits of the idiom. The arrangements take on a new level of maturation that follows in the footsteps of Bela Fleck, Mark O'Connor, Chris Thile, Sam Bush, Edgar Meyer, and Tony Rice. Hank, Pattie & The Current want to pick up where seminal crossover groups like The Punch Brothers, Strength In Numbers and the ever-changing Bluegrass Allstars call home. The music is vocal and instrumental, allowing the band to experiment with arrangements and tailor the compositions to become vehicles for exploration. Hank Smith on banjo, Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw on the fiddle and vocals. The band includes Robert Thornhill on mandolin and vocals, Billie Feather on guitar, and Jonah Freedman on bass. Both Hank and Pattie are members of the prestigious Leadership Bluegrass through the IBMA.

Rise Above (2019)

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Chatham Rabbits to Release All I Want From You on January 11, 2019


Chapel Hill, NC

November 3, 2018

Folk and bluegrass duo Chatham Rabbits have signed to Chapel Hill’s Robust Records. Since 2009, Robust Records has served as an incubator for a roster of emerging artists and bands including Mipso; Hank, Pattie & The Current; Justin Hiltner & Jon Weisberger; Wood Robinson’s New Formal; and Caleb Caudle.

It’s an ideal match for the Bynum, North Carolina based husband and wife team, Sarah and Austin McCombie, whose debut album All I Want Is You stuns with solid storytelling and heart-worn harmonies.

Produced by Jerry Brown at the famed Rubber Room Studio in Chapel Hill and featuring musicians Libby Rodenbough (Mipso) and Andrew Marlin (Mandolin Orange), All I Want From You will be released by Robust on January 11, 2019.

All I Want From You (2019)

RBST017 • $15

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Justin Hiltner and Jon Weisberger to Release Watch It Burn on August 17, 2018

Collaborating with all-star musicians Molly Tuttle, Casey Campbell, Tristan Scroggins, Brandon Godman, Kimber Ludiker, Corrina Logston, Amanda Fields, and Tim O’Brien.

American Songwriter Magazine premieres first single “Watch It Burn” ft. Molly Tuttle


Nashville, Tn

June 15, 2018

Justin Hiltner and Jon Weisberger, two longtime friends and bluegrass songwriters, musicians, and community leaders, are pleased to announce the release of Watch It Burn, available everywhere on Aug. 17 on Robust Records. The album is a reflection of who Justin and Jon are as writers and individuals -- a collection of songs rooted solidly in the traditional precepts of the Bluegrass genre, while simultaneously playing on its innovative fringes. Watch It Burn blends personal themes with those of classic country and bluegrass in an affectionate, well-crafted, yet emotionally resonant way. Yesterday, American Songwriter Magazine exclusively premiered the title track, "Watch It Burn," Listen here .

Watch It Burn is a refreshing set of songs given the full-blown bluegrass band treatment by a clutch of outstanding young musicians: there’s a two-stepper that echoes countless country classics in its denial of heartbreak; an old-time flavored barn burner; a meditation on wistful-yet-defiant skepticism; a ‘grassy reflection onloneliness; a brother-style duet that sounds like it came straight from the 1950s, and more. It’s rare to find a collection so committed both to a contemporary insistenceon emotional truth and to the masterful use of vintage lyrical, musical, and thematic approaches.

Calling on their best of friends and the tight-knit bluegrass circle that originally brought them together, Hiltner and Weisberger assembled a roster of pickers to rival any of the best roots albums being released today: Molly Tuttle, current reigning International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Guitar Player of the Year brings her signature ruthless virtuosity to the project. IBMA Momentum Award winners Casey Campbell and Tristan Scroggins split mandolin duty, providing a fascinating case study in divergent traditional approaches to the instrument. There’s also compatriot Brandon Godman, who conjured the record’s sole instrumental, “General Kuster,” sawing on the fiddle through nearly half of the album.

Grand Master Champion fiddler Kimber Ludiker of the GRAMMY-nominated roots-grass ensemble Della Mae also plays twin fiddle, a much too rare role on modern bluegrass records. Straight-ahead powerhouses Corrina Logston(fiddle) and Amanda Fields (guitar) reinforce the album’s constant homages to the genre’s heritage. And finally, a modern legend of bluegrass music, Tim O’Brien, lends a soulful, vibrant lead vocal to “If I Were a Praying Man,” a slightly angsty song of uncertainty and introspection.

Not many albums can be said to have an exact date of origin, but Watch It Burndoes -- and it’s a memorable: August 21, 2017. That was the date of a total eclipse of the sun, the centerline of which passed barely a mile north of Weisberger’s Cottontown, TN, home — a fact to which he’d been alerted months earlier by Hiltner — and the day when, in conversation with other viewing party guests, it dawned onthe two that they’d written nearly an album’s worth of songs. It was an auspicious start. 

Without deadlines or publishing quotas, the pair routinely got together to write songs over the years for a few very simple reasons: They loved bluegrass, they loved creating, and they loved gabbing while indulging in imported cheeses.

The resulting record, Watch It Burn, reflects on those preoccupations (except, perhaps for the imported cheeses), with a distinctive combination of material and musicians, it’s perhaps no surprise that Watch It Burn seems destined to become an emblem for a new generation of traditional-leaning bluegrass -- rooted in a deep knowledge of and love for the music’s past, yet organically reflective of the diversity that’s essential to bringing it into the future. While that might not have been exactly what Justin Hiltner and Jon Weisberger had in mind when they first sat down to write -- or even what they contemplated on that hot August day when the project was born and the sun disappeared -- it’s what they’ve achieved, and that’s something special indeed.


About Justin Hiltner

Justin Hiltner is an openly gay songwriter and banjoist based in Nashville, TN. His high-energy, Scruggs-style picking is unique in its combination of traditional aesthetic and progressive, improvisational, outside-the-box thinking. Over the course of his seven years in Music City he’s toured, performed, and collaborated with bluegrass greats such as Roland White, Laurie Lewis, Jim Lauderdale, Ronnie McCoury, Molly Tuttle, and Missy Raines. In 2016 he was nominated for IBMA’s Instrumentalist Momentum Award. An activist for inclusion and visibility, NPR Music called him “a leader in the burgeoning movement to welcome and highlight queer voices in bluegrass.” He produced the first ever showcase of diversity in bluegrass, now an annual event at IBMA’s business conference and he authors the eponymous “Shout & Shine” interview series, which focuses on underrepresented and marginalized identities in roots music, for The Bluegrass Situation.

About Jon Wesiberger

Jon Weisberger was the first recipient of the IBMA’s Songwriter of the Year award in 2012. He’s spent the past decade and a half as a member of Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, with whom he’s scored nearly a dozen #1 hits as writer or performer; during that same period, he’s had close to 200 of his songs recorded by a broad array of bluegrass and related artists, from jamgrass favorites like the Travelin’ McCourys and the Infamous Stringdusters to traditional stalwarts such as Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers and Junior Sisk, and released two well-received solo albums. A member of the IBMA’s Board of Directors for 11 years, he has served for the same amount of time as producer and co-host of the popular Hand-Picked with Del McCoury show on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction. 

About Robust Records

Robust Records was founded in 2008 with the mission of guiding emerging artists through the many important steps involved in making quality music, spreading that music, and acquiring fans – from production and recording, to disc manufacturing and online distribution, to booking and publicity, and to business management and funding. Founder, Mitch Collman is a practicing cardiologist with a big heart. Medicine is his vocation, but music is his passion.

Now, just five years later, Robust’s catalogue ranges from the Durham hip-hop fusion of The Beast, to folksinger Reed Mahoney (produced in conjunction with Jim Avett), to the Winston-Salem country rock of songwriter Caleb Caudle, to pop rock connoisseurs The Letter Jackets (an offshoot from bluegrass Chatham County Line), to the Carolina newgrass of Chapel Hill up-and-comers Mipso. If the Robust Records family seems uncommonly diverse, Mitch likes it that way. “I’m interested in music that crosses categories,” he says. “And what matters is music that reaches and touches people.”


Watch It Burn (2018)

Track listing:

  1. Watch It Burn featuring Molly Tuttle

  2. If I Don’t Marry Molly I’ll Die

  3. This Isn’t How I Wanted to Come Home

  4. Winnsboro Blue

  5. What I Miss the Most

  6. General Kuster

  7. If I Were a Praying Man featuring Tim O'Brien

  8. Lady’s Slippers

  9. Morning Prayers

  10. Half of the Rest of My Life

  11. I’m Not in Love with You

  12. Doing What You Do


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