The Nell & Jim Band will release new album, ‘Steel, at The Palms

By Special to The Enterprise

Nell Robinson, Jim Nunally front the roots quintet

Northern California’s acclaimed Americana quintet the Nell & Jim Band will return to The Palms Playhouse, 13 Main St. in Winters, on Saturday, Feb. 16 for an album release concert for “Steel.” Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $20 ($16 with student ID).

Fronted by vocalist and flautist Nell Robinson and singer, guitarist and six-string banjoist Jim Nunally, the Nell & Jim Band plays fresh originals co-written by Robinson and Nunally and a few choice country and folk covers, all presented with a sound that braids together bluegrass, country, Americana and acoustic rock.

Nunally is no stranger to Palms audiences as he has played regionally many times in various groups including the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, John Reischman & The Jaybirds, his duo show with Keith Little, the annual Banjo Extravaganza and more. A noted acoustic guitarist known for his rich tone, fast runs and economy of movement, Nunally is also a singer in the country and bluegrass tradition, a solid songwriter and recently added six-string banjo to his musical arsenal.

Nunally has won two Grammy certifications and two International Bluegrass Music Association awards as a guitarist and is a two-time Western Open Flatpicking champion.

Heralded by American Songwriter magazine as having a voice “somewhere between Emmy Lou Harris and Patty Griffin,” Robinson started in music at a run just 10 years ago, recording three solo albums and a duo album with Nunally. Her “Rose of No-Man’s Land” show aired nationally on PBS as part of the “Music Gone Public” series.

Robinson and Nunally’s musical partnership began when Nunally co-produced an album by Robinson in 2010. They then recorded “House & Garden” (2013), harmonizing “in the vein of the Everly Brothers” (Billboard). They’ve played together at the Kennedy Center, on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and at major festivals such as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Folk Alliance International, Kate Wolf Music Festival and Strawberry Music Festival.

Love blossomed between the two after their first collaboration and they’ve expanded the band from a duo to a quintet with Jim Kerwin (Jerry Garcia, Yo-Yo Ma and David Grisman) on upright bass, Jon Arkin (Gene Perla and Lee Konitz) on drums and percussion and Rob Reich (Gaucho and Circus Bella) on accordion and keys. The quintet previously released four EPs and one album (2015’s “Baby Let’s Take The Long Way Home”) and appeared on PBS’s “Music Gone Public.”

The band’s new 12-track album, “Steel,” was produced by John Cuniberti (Joe Satriani and Sammy Hagar) and was inspired by and pays tribute to the musicians’ Northern California roots.

From the title cut — an ode to Nunally’s former life as a welder — to “Speed Limit,” a song about the fact that life doesn’t have to end at 40, the Nell & Jim Band owns its story.

The album’s first single is a medley of the traditional songs “Shady Grove” and “Matty Groves” and is a nod to the countless times Nunally and Kerwin played “Shady Groves” while performing with David Grisman.

In addition to its creative endeavors, the band gives back through two projects: the Music Home Project and the Whippoorwill Arts Awards, which provide Robinson and Nunally creative ways to help non-profits and musicians. They’ve also aided musicians who recently lost their instruments in devastating California fires.

Tickets are available at Armadillo Music in Davis, Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and Eventbrite, and at the door if not sold out.

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The Nell & Jim Band play “Steel,” the title track from their forthcoming album.

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