Justin Robinson & the Mary Annettes, Bess Rogers, Leslie Broussard | The Pinhook | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Justin Robinson & the Mary Annettes, Bess Rogers, Leslie Broussard 

When: Tue., April 27, 9 p.m. 2010
Price: $5

As one-third of the constantly touring African-American string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, Justin Robinson should hardly have time to catch his breath between shows, much less launch a solo project. But that's exactly what he's done with the Mary Annettes, a spin-off of his band Birds or Monsters. But with the Drops, there's apparently some useful downtime.

"With the exception of one song, almost all the Mary Annettes and Birds or Monsters stuff was written on the road," Robinson explains. "I actually find it really difficult to write and compose at home because when I get home from touring, there's always something that needs to be done."

While Birds or Monsters was largely a studio venture, the Mary Annettes find Robinson and a trio of multi-instrumentalists he connected with through mutual friends and Craigslist swapping guitar, bass, fiddle, banjo, drums and a host of other strings. After being given full-band arrangements, the songs are now more polished, he says.

While Robinson is unsure as to whether he will continue Birds or Monsters, he enjoys having another outlet for his songwriting—his stark autoharp haunt "Kissin' and Cussin'" was the lone original on Genuine Negro Jig, the Drops' latest. "It's a chance to write my own material and basically have everything, within reason, exactly how I want it to be," he admits. "It's just a different thing being in a band and being a bandleader."

For now, it seems, he'll be staying pretty busy with his longtime group but plans to play with the Mary Annettes whenever he's off the road with the Chocolate Drops. "Next year should be calmer, with some bigger breaks where I can grow this other project a little bit," Robinson predicts. "Right now, it's a great outlet, but it'd be great to have some minor success as well." With nearly an album's worth of recordings already in the bag, that success—and, likely, much more—seems imminent. With Bess Rogers and Lelia Broussard. The band also plays ChestFest Saturday, April 24. —Spencer Griffith

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