Robert C. Heyer hails from Wheeling WV where he has been an important fixture in the local Old Time and Bluegrass community. Robert has released a number of solo recordings in the last 15 years. They mostly were comprised of traditional tunes from the Mountain State with a few originals here and there. One Day blazes a new and exciting pathway for Robert as all of the selections are his own. The date each was written is included and it's interesting to see the progression from 1975 to present.
Some of the songs are traditionally inspired compositions including "My Little White House In the Valley", "There's Music In the Air Somewhere", and "Your Lovin' & Charms". There is an unmistakable Piedmont blues connection in many of the songs on One Day as well. The strongest of these is the title track featuring acoustic guitar, ominous slide guitar and an insistent hand clap rhythm. This could easily be a long lost composition from Blind Willie Johnson. "Falling In Love's Gonna Be the Ruin of Me" is a cross between Mississippi John Hurt and John Prine. A dose of slippery fiddle and Robert's expertly fingerpicked guitar highlight "Lula Mae".
Robert attacks the present political malaise in America with "The Struggle Never Ends Somehow". If Woody were still with us he certainly would lend his voice to its pro union sentiment.
One Day concludes with a surprise. The most pointedly topical song of the collection "Trayvon" is an observation of the philosophical mess we find ourselves in concerning the Trayvon Martin case. This infectious tune has an in your face quality. What it says needs to be spoken and certainly not forgotten.
Besides Robert's exceptional songs, deep baritone vocals and guitar playing we need to mention the contributions from Scott Black on fiddle; Kelly Jones on slide and lead guitars, bass, mandolin, percussion, and background vocals; Richard Pollack, fiddle,banjo, and vocals; Jim Simpson on mandolin and Jeff Strautmann on bass. They all contribute to a fine album from a son of the Mountain State.
Tom Druckenmiller: reviewer for Sing Out Magazine and host of the Sing Out Radio Magazine (Oct 22, 2012)
"I hear a bridge between James McMurtry and Hazel Dickens in your music,but you have your own voice. I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but tracks 7 and 10 both remind me of the work of Hazel. I love her and miss her and yet she lives on for me in tunes like these. These sounds coming from you remind me of her somehow, make me feel like her work is extended by and fused with you and may influence someone new."
Todd Burge - Facebook post by singer/songwriter ,Todd Burge, re: One Day (Dec 8, 2012)
We got your new cd and Tracy and I have been enjoying it on our trips south. Good stuff. Thanks for sending it to us.
Ginny Hawker - e-mail re: One Day (Dec 8, 2012)
" I heard Dylan, Arlo, Willie, and Hunter along with you which makes me think like every good songwriter, you steal from everybody."
Jo Miller - e-mail re: Your Lovin' & Charms on "One Day" (Oct 7, 2012)
" It gets off to a really good start with track 1, Your Lovin' & Charms. Music In the Air Somewhere is another favorite and, of course, And Red Blood Stained the Green Hills of Our Land has a special place in our hearts for its mine war history. Track 13, The Struggle Never Ends Somehow is a song we all need. And how wonderful that you made that song for and about Trayvon Martin. Your singing and picking are both strong. A good listen all the way around. It's exciting that you're keeping the tradition alive with new creations."
Carrie Kline- singer and folklorist - Facebook post re: One Day (Dec 18, 2012)
"Thanks for sending me "One Day"- love it."
Jon Mosey- guitarist extraordinaire - personal note re: One Day (Dec 25, 2012)
" Your Lovin' & Charms sounds like Willie Nelson would love it. I like that one a lot and also quite enjoyed I've Done Some Ramblin' In My Day, Lula Mae ( I like the entertwining of the fiddle and guitar parts) and I really like Music In the Air Somewhere. You must be proud...you done good."
Erynn Marshall- fiddler and folklorist - postcard re: One Day (Dec 25, 2012)
And finally, my pick of the month is Bob Heyer's new CD called "That Lonesome Road". Bob is a Wheeling boy,just a little younger than me. He has been on the front lines of keeping the old traditional mountain music alive for many,many years. One of his main contributions has been to set up a concert every month in the Wheeling area.
Jeff Smith, who wrote the liner notes for the CD,talks about what a gentle person Bob is and I have to give a 100% vote on that. Bob's peaceful gentleness comes through in many ways.
Musically, I like the way Bob copies no one and how every tune he picks are very different from each other.
In listening to this CD, I would pick out a few that stood out for me: 1."Flatfoot in the Ashes" from Harvey Sampson, Calhoun County:2."Salt River", a WV tune.Bill Monroe got his version from Don Stover, Beckley, WV. Sherman Hammon's "Muddy Road" is almost exactly like it.3."Thomas McCorkle" is a new song,2002;4."Fare Thee Well, Oh Honey" is a bluesy song;5. "New Stranger Blues" is really powerful in Bob's gentle way;6."Little Rabbit" is a children's song he wrote for kids like me;7. "Sleepy Kate" literally brought tears to my eyes when I heard it. For me, it would be beautiful as a hymn.
By the way, Bob Heyer is trying to shift some of the blame for his banjo playing on me. I refuse to accept it.
Dwight Diller - Newsletter-Morning Star Folk Arts-Review of That Lonesome Road
Bob Heyer's new CD,titled That Lonesome Road features Bob's singing and playing banjo,guitar,and dulcimer on a mixture of traditional and original material,often over-dubbing more than one instrument per song. "Cherry River Line" is a highlight from the traditional side of the ledger,while Bob's own "Hard Luck Blues" is a particularly memorable original song. Bob's banjo playing deserves special mention;he takes pains to credit Dwight Diller as his early inspiration on that "infernal contraption" as he calls it.
John Lilly - Goldenseal Winter 2006-Review of That Lonesome Road
Bob Heyer is a West Virginian who sings and plays in a mellow,folksy style. He has established himself on the more folk end of the old time circuit and is also a good songwriter.This project features his old time,clawhammer banjo playing that he learned from Dwight Diller.The strongest cut on this project is an original piece played on banjo(Hard Luck Blues) where Bob gets down and gritty.Too bad he doesn't do that more often.Bob plays guitar and dulcimer as well.Bob is not afraid to rework older material and make it his own.He does so with respect for tradition.
There is not a bad cut on this project.There are several cuts that feature his banjo playing and to good effect.He has over-dubbed instruments on some cuts,getting a fuller sound. On "New Stranger Blues," Bob is accompanied by Kelly Jones, who provides some strong lead guitar, and Matt Hines on bass. Matt's bass can also be heard to good end on "Fare Thee Well,Oh Honey", a wistful blues.
There are solidly played versions of West Virginia songs and tunes interspersed with a few blues numbers.The production quality by David O'Dell is first rate. This release will greatly please Bob's fans.
Robert Buckingham - Bluegrass Unlimited November 2005- Review of That Lonesome Road
Review of "Close To The Heart"
In our reviews in High Notes we try to tell you what a recording is all about,but this CD from Bob Heyer gives us a bit of trouble.Just look at the tune titles and you'll see the problem. A couple of the old,old ballads, several great old spiritual songs, a few gems from the string band and hillbilly days of 60 or so years ago,Merle Travis,Gene Autry-we'll just have to say that this recording is about singing.
Bob handles all this material with a firm command of what each song needs.Bob's not a flashy hot guitar player,but he's an accomplished one with a variety of skills,and he's especially good at deciding what does and does not belong.His warm baritone voice also fits comfortably into this amazing variety of material.Judicious use of other musicians adds even more variety to the music without detracting from the guitar and voice focus of the project. This is one of those rare recordings of our music which achieves general accessibility without betraying its roots.
Danny Williams - High Notes Fall 1999-Reivew of Close To The Heart
Many of our readers are already familiar with Bob Heyer from Wheeling,and they'll be happy to know that his new CD ,Close To The Heart, sounds just like him. Bob is a fine guitar player-just listen to the opening of the first song,"Blue Ridge Mountain Blues"- and he shows on this CD that he can handle a banjo,too. But close to the heart,Bob is a singer, and he adapts his warm baritone to an impressive variety of styles. "I'm Getting Ready to Go" and "My Rough and Rowdy Ways" are upbeat,fun songs from the minstrel and early country music traditions. "Cora Is Gone" is an old standard love lament. The CD also includes several great gospel songs, a few familiar numbers from earlier in this century, a couple of blues standards,some Bob Heyer originals, and the most-laid back version of a Gene Autry song we've ever heard.That sounds like a lot of material, but it just fits Bob.He obviously understands his own voice and selects music he can handle with ease and grace.
John Lilly - Goldenseal-Winter 1999-Review of Close to the Heart
Review of "Root That Mountain Down"
Here is an intriquing collection of traditional folk songs harkening back to the early 1960's when the folk music revival was in full swing. Bob Heyer is a West Virginia based folk singer whose career spans three decades.His relaxed yet dynamic vocal style reflects the influences of Jimmy Driftwood,Doc Watson, and Tom Paxton. "Root That Mountain Down" is the latest Bob Heyer recording project consisting of pure folk content but exhibiting obvious bluegrass connections.The 13 performances are carried off with precision by Heyer accompanying himself on guitar and Appalachian lap dulcimer. With the exception of "The Miner's Story", a Bob Heyer original, the other selections are tradition folk pieces. Some like "Short Life of Trouble" and "In the Pines" are instantly recognizable. Others including "The Blind Fiddler" and "I Truly Understand" border on the edge of obscurity. One particulaly interesting number is the gruesome murder ballad "Wind and Rain",which can be traced to several British broadsides ballads. Although previously recorded by Jody Stecher and the Red Clay Ramblers,Heyer's interpretation is especially unique. One welcome feature is the presence of detailed liner notes that document each selection and impart an insight into the music of Bob Heyer. For those possessing an ear for authentic American folk music,"Root That Mountain Down" is an adventure back in time to a musical heritage
ignored by the mass media.
Les McIntire - Bluegrass Unlimited September 1996-Review of Root That Mountain Down
Review of Root That Mountain Down and Havin' A Fine Old Time
Meanwhile in the Northern Panhandle,Bob Heyer has been playing and singing both alone and with a group,and has been promoting the music through his Mountain Moon Coffeehouse in Wheeling.Now Heyer has added two recordings to his list of accomplishments. The first recording, Root That Mountain Down, features Heyer's solo work as a dulcimer player,guitarist, and singer. Heyer demonstrates here that he loves the whole range of traditional music, and he handles it all with an impressive command of various styles and techniques. "Blind Fiddler" and the ancient "Wind & Rain" tell evocative stories;"Down In the Arkansas" and "I Got Mine" share some more lighthearted fun; and "Shady Grove" and "In the Pines" take the listener into the lonesome mountain sound which lies beneath so much of our music. Heyer shows a mastery of the familiar bass and chord guitar strumming,bluesy fingerpicking, and the old-time dulcimer sound, and his versatile baritone voice perfectly suits his material.The one tradition necessarily missing from Heyer's solo album is the raucious string band sound.Heyer and his friends Scott Black,Matt Hines, and
Richard Pollack provide plenty of that as the Cabin Fever String Band. Their Havin' A Fine Old Time recording presents square-dance favorites,novelty songs,instrumental pieces and more, performed in lively fashion with fiddles,banjo, guitar,bass, and vocals.
John Lilly - Goldenseal Winter 1996-Review of Root That Mountiain Down & Havin' A Fine Old Time
The Cabin Fever String Band is based in Wheeling,West Virginia. They have been playing music together since 1986 at county fairs, dances,concerts and on WWVA's Jamboree. Havin' A Fine Old Time was recorded live during the 1990's at various venues in and around Wheeling where they regularly perform. The selection of tunes demonstrates the variety of their repertoire. Old time fiddle tunes comfortably coexist beside classic honky tonk, Celtic, and newly composed tunes in the tradition.
The recording opens with a strong medley of old time tunes including "Soldier's Joy and "Bill Cheatum" followed shortly by Henry Clay Work's classic "Grandfather's Clock" and James Bland's "Golden Slippers" including some fancy hoofing from the band members.
The on-location recording quality is just fine with all the enthusiasm of a Cabin Fever String Band performance intact. If you don't get the chance to see them live don't pass it up!
Bob Heyer is the guitarist and one of the singers for the Cabin Fever String Band. Root That Mountain Down is a reissue of his solo recording from 1995. In addition to his role in the band, he and his wife Barb operate the Mountain Moon Coffeehouse at the Stifel Center in Wheeling.
Recorded in two days direct to dat in his mother's living room, Root That Mountain Down is a true solo recording.It is the ideal format to showcase Bob's many talents. Accompanying himself on guitar and lap dulcimer, Bob highlights tunes that were important signposts in his travels to becoming a traditional music performer. Bob includes fine renditions of "Shady Grove", the Jimmie Driftwood classic,"Down In the Arkansas" and a gourgeous rendition of "Make Me Down a Pallet on Your Floor" accompanied beautifully by simple fingerpicked open D guitar. These examples just scratch the surface of Root That Mountain Down, a recording of grace and beauty by a true son of the Mountain State.
Tom Druckenmiller - Sing Out Spring 2003 - Review of Root That Mountain Down & Havin' A Fine Old Time
For nearly ten years, the liner notes to this recording explain, the Cabin Fever String Band has brought its old time string band sound to audiences throughout parts of Ohio,Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, appearing at state and county fairs,coffeehouses,square dances,festivals and other public performances.
The music here comes from what most readers would call pre-bluegrass,old ballads,ancient fiddle tunes, early country tunes and other traditional Appalachian songs.
Consisting of fiddle,banjo, bass and guitar, Cabin Fever String Band hews close to the original sound. There's nothing slick or fancy here.The band's aim is to present the music in its original,unvarnished state.Recorded live without overdubs to a two-track digital recorder, the sound is a little raw and unprocessed-perfect for the simple-sounding,unrefined songs and performances here.
If you enjoy square dance music and other forms of traditional string band music,then Havin' A Fine Old Time ought to be in your music collection.
David J.McCarty - Bluegrass Unlimited September 1996 Review of Havin' A Fine Old Time