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Remembering JD Robinson

by Cory Marie Podielski on August 20, 2015

in Folk School Folks


JD_Robinson_Bio_IMG_5177We are mourning the loss of our dear friend, JD Robinson. JD played an integral part in the music and dance community at the Folk School for decades. He taught music classes in a wide variety of instruments, engaged students at morningsong with songs and tales of fire safety, played for contra dances, led jams, and was involved in Winter Dance Week. JD also kept the community of Brasstown safe as the Fire Chief of the Brasstown Volunteer Fire Department. Always a phone call away, he always came to help whenever there was an emergency at the Folk School. He will be greatly missed.

Folks gathered at the Festival Barn on Saturday, August 22, 2015 at 1 p.m. for a celebration of the life of JD. There was a  procession, an official Firefighter’s Last Call, potluck meal & music. The Brasstown Fire Department and many others brought JD’s ashes to the Barn.

David Kaynor wrote a beautiful tune in JD’s memory.

David says: “I’ve been thinking on how thankful I am for 20 years’ acquaintance with JD Robinson and how sad I am that, suddenly, I no longer have 20 more years of playing music with him and getting to know him better. Here’s a rough multi-track of something I wrote in his memory:”

Click here to listen to the tune.


JD in the Music Studio / Playing a song at Brasstown Follies.


Teaching in the Music Studio


Brasstown roadtrip! JD played for many contra dances at the Folk School and in the region. Here he is playing fiddle at a dance in Chattanooga. Charlotte is calling & Dianna is on piano.


Playing Morningsong / Rehearsing with the Pressley sisters at Clay’s Corner.



{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie Hawkins October 17, 2015 at 2:36 pm

I recently discovered that a man who was instrumental in giving my son a gift in high school had passed away.
Several years ago, J.D. was invited to teach music to a group of students at Hiwassee Dam High School through a grant intended to bring the “arts” to rural areas.
J.D. was able to bring out the musical talents my son had waiting to be discovered. I have always been thankful for this man. Rest in Peace sir.


Mary Ricketson September 8, 2015 at 7:35 am

I remember long philosophical chats with JD in 1993 and a thread of friendship and laughter that lasted till the last. He was a valued friend.


Ty Fisher September 8, 2015 at 1:16 am

JD was a musical genius and a consummate character. He taught me many a tune when we played together at the Georgia Mountain Fair, and I will long remember his original compositions, such as “The Blizzard of ’92”. Much missed!


Larry E. Warren September 7, 2015 at 11:09 am

So sorry to hear that J.D. is gone. I had his intermediate banjo and beginning fiddle courses. He had a unique entertaining style of teaching, knew a lot of music theory, and was a gifted performer. I’ll miss seeing you again, J.D.


Hudson Boyce September 3, 2015 at 5:45 pm


His celebration was when? Either the month or the year is incorrect.
Sorry for the loss; he sounds like such a good friend to all.


Cory Marie Podielski September 3, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Thanks for catching that! I fixed it. His memorial was August 22, not September 22.


BJ Foster September 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm

I met JD in early April this year. JD was part of the small orchestra that played for the musical, “Spitfire Grill” at the Peacock Theater. This was my first musical. Hannah Ferguson, the character I played, was a tough singing role. He was so encouraging and helpful. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to meet him and work with him.


David A. Brose August 21, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Within the last year I was sitting with JD in the Folk School dining hall. He asked “How long have we known each other?” I said “twenty-four years.” He said “You are one of the only people here I have never argued with; why is that?” I said “Because I like you.” He smiled big and wide. A grin really. He was stubborn at times and did things this way, but that was, after all, part of
his charm.


Julia von Ranson (Wilczynski) August 21, 2015 at 5:50 pm

I knew JD during my extended stay at the Folk School and in Brasstown between 1999-2001. My brightest memories of JD are of him singing “You Are My Sunshine” and of him training me to be the fire truck inspector. Safe travels to the other side, JD.


Hilda Thomason August 21, 2015 at 2:23 pm

JD will be missed at Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds!


Steve Hilliard August 20, 2015 at 9:49 pm

I only knew JD through his morning song sessions, but he was clearly a compassionate, talented man committed to making a difference at the folk school and in the community of Brasstown. I will miss him, as will many others.


Shirley Rosseau August 20, 2015 at 4:18 pm

I dearly loved hearing JD at morning song telling about the “great turtle release” and the many other absolutely unique stories. He had such a relaxed story telling style that I never knew what to believe and what was just a yarn he made up as he went along. I finally decided that they were real but that his youth was just so different from anything I had ever known that it was truly a glimpse into a life of a whole different region. He was a truly caring person as shown in his story about the little boy who got left in the fire and he always admonished us to have a family fire emergency plan. Somehow he stood out from the crowd in a very quiet way and stuck in my mind. I HATE to think of him being gone from this earth. He was still young and so talented.


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