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Lending a hand to the ‘Godfather’ of the Southside rock ‘n’ roll scene

South Boston News / February 25, 2013
Local musicians are banding together to hold a benefit concert for one of their own, Robyn Robbins, described as “the godfather” of the Southside rock ‘n’ roll scene.

Robbins was injured earlier this month when he fell off the roof of his Mount Laurel home while replacing a shingle. He suffered broken vertebrae in his back, a bruised sternum and bruised aorta from the fall. After spending two weeks at MCV in Richmond, he has been resting at home recuperating from his injuries. Robbins was able to avoid back surgery but has a lengthy recovery ahead in a body brace.

He did not have health insurance, leaving the Robbins family — Robyn, wife Susi and four children — confronted with steep medical bills.

Friends are pitching in to help.

A “Rockin’ for Robyn” concert event has been tentatively scheduled for Saturday, March 30 at the Farmers Market site in Halifax (formerly Farmers Foods). A number of local bands have signed up for a day of music from 3-11 p.m., in tandem with a fundraising raffle and vendor sales. The concert is free, but donations to the Robbins family are encouraged in lieu of a cover charge, said Eddie Elliott, one of the organizers.

“He’s on the mend, but he’s laid off at the time and he has no insurance,” said Elliott. “The need [for financial support] is immediate.

“He’s got a long ways to go.”

Robbins, a founding member of local rhythm and blues group Robyn & the Hoods, “is kind of the godfather of the band scene around here,” said Elliott, who dated the band’s formation back to the late 1960s. “Robyn & the Hoods was a forerunner of a lot of local bands. You can sort of start the family tree from that one band.”

Robbins played guitar and sang for the group; other members included Hugh Vaughan, lead guitarist and vocalist, who now lives in Atlanta; Doug Matze, keyboardist, now a Richmond resident; Chris King, drummer, a St. Louis resident; and Carl Meadows, bass guitarist and vocalist, who lives in South Boston. The band held a reunion concert at The Prizery last August; Elliott expressed the hope that band mates might return to perform at the March 30 benefit, although plans are still being formed.

Elliott’s group, the Hot Damn! Band, will be part of the concert playbill, along with the Havis Mountain Boys, Improbable Cause, Sixth & Main, and other groups that have expressed an interest in performing but have yet to formally commit on short notice.

While Elliott cautions that the concert planning remains tentative, with the date subject to approval of an ABC permit, organizers have come up with the grand prize for a fundraising raffle: tickets for two to any NASCAR truck series race, with VIP pit passes and free hotel accommodations for the lucky winners. The prize is being donated by Kathy Farley, president of Sequoyah Brands of South Boston, which is sponsoring Jeb Burton’s debut season on the truck circuit.

“We’ve got a great prize for the raffle from Kathy,” said Elliott.

Plans for the March 30 benefit also call for an auction fundraiser, food and drink sales, and offerings from a variety of vendors. “We’re looking for more ideas and will see how it goes from there,” said Elliott in appealing for the public’s help.

In addition to organizing the concert, Robbins’ friends are setting up a post office box to take in donations and will communicate through Facebook about efforts to help the Robbins family. Along with bands, the Rockin’ for Robyn event is in need of graphic artists who can design posters and marketing materials for the March 30 concert.

Elliott credits Robbins for inspiring a generation of local musicians — “I think there are more bands in Halifax County now than I’ve ever seen before” — and said the formation of Robyn & the Hoods is “where it all started.” The band once fronted for rhythm and blues legend Delbert McClinton and made a name in its own right as a mainstay of the Southside rock scene, performing at clubs, the local bowling alley, and at venues from Danville to South Hill, among other places. “They were the premier band of their time,” said Elliott.

And now a founder of the band needs a little help from his friends.

“They’re just top-notch people,” said Elliott of the Robbins family. “Hopefully we can get something going to help them get over the hump.”

Additional details about the Rockin’ for Robyn concert event will be announced as plans come together.

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This event has been cancelled. Possibly will be held later in the year.

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