January 10, 2013

Robin and Linda Williams
These Old Dark Hills

Redhouse Records

Robin and Linda Williams return to Kent

BY Kelly Maile

By Kelly Maile | Staff Writer Published: January 10, 2013 4:00AM Prairie Home Companion favorites Robin and Linda Williams will bring their southern roots tour to the Kent Stage, 175 E. Main St., this Saturday.

Their performance will be a blend of traditional folk, bluegrass and southern roots music.

"We embody all different styles of music," Linda said. "Back when we first started, the term Americana roots music wasn't necessarily a genre of music, but I think you could put us into that. We've always been a little hard to describe."

This year marks Robin and Linda's 40th year of playing together. They said their strong point is live performances.

"After all the years on the road, we have never taken one single night lightly," Robin said. "I think that's why we're been able to build an audience and career. We take our audiences seriously and we realize our job is to make them feel better than the way they came."

Robin and Linda's centerpiece is singing and songwriting.

"The secret is our singing," Linda said. "We really concentrate on vocals and we all have a really strong singing style. I think there's a variety we offer from a capella tunes to up-tempo break down tunes to slower readings of the material."

Robin and Linda have played storied halls like Radio City Music Hall and the Grand Ole Opry to local theaters like the Kent Stage.

"We've really had the opportunity to learn to just be at ease on stage," Linda said. "There's a comfort level when you play as long as we have and gone through as many years on the road as we have. I think it shows in our singing and performances."

The duet said they enjoy the spontaneity of performing live.

"Each performance is different every night," Robin said. "We'll bring in fresh material that we're working on and we'll take requests. That always challenges the group because sometimes people pull out songs we haven't done in years. It keeps us on our toes. It's really fun."

Linda and Robin Williams will perform songs from their 2012 album, "These Old Dark Hills." The album features cover songs, including Bruce Springsteen's "My Lucky Day."

"We had a lot of material from other musicians that we had been singing for a long time and we thought why sing it if you're not going to record it," Robin said. "Linda has a really good take on the material. She was able to look at the lyrics of 'My Lucky Day' and transform it into something completely different."

"These Old Dark Hills" was recorded and mixed in four days.

"I think there's a nice freshness to the sound," Linda said. "It was done very quickly. We played it live in the studio and there wasn't much in the way of overdubbing or fixing anything. It has a live sound and a good feel to it. We've done our last two albums that way and it's how we like to record."

Robin and Linda have recorded 22 CDs during their career. They plan on recording a new album in late February.

"We're getting new material together now," Robin said. "This is our 40th year of traveling and touring together. We're thinking of how we might recognize that fact on our new record."

The duet will be on tour until November 2013.

"It's a never ending tour," Robin said. "It's just what we do. We're out several days and weekends out of the month. We're always anxious to get out and play for new people and long time fans, too."

Joining Robin and Linda on tour is Their Fine Group. Jim Watson will play string bass and Chris Brashear will play the fiddle and mandolin.

"We've never really done a straight duet record," Linda said. "It's nice to bring the same sound to the stage. Having a bass player and other instrumentalists and singers just helps to give us a full, rich sound."

Linda and Robin Williams said the Kent Stage is one of their top stops along the way.

Tom Simpson, co-owner of the Kent Stage, remembers when Robin and Linda first played the Kent Stage when it opened in 2002.

"The first time they played the Kent stage, they brought a dog with them," Simpson said. "You know, that says a lot about them. They were always on the road back then and they still are. They are nice, traditional folks. Everyone really enjoy them. They make people feel at home."

Simpson said he expects over 400 people to show Saturday night.

"They attract a lot of people every time they play here," Simpson said. "Some shows you go to, you just sit there and listen. With Linda and Robin, there's interaction between the band members and the audience. They have a lot of fun while they play and you can tell they enjoy playing together. There's a lot of humor involved. It's always a good time."

Robin and Linda Williams will perform at the Kent Stage at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and all ages are welcome. For more information, call 330-677-5005 or visit

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1123 or