Fraser/Live Musiic: Rob Drabkin discovers everything he can communicate through a guitar
Music brings out the best in musician Rob Drabkin and his music brings out the best in his audience. The Front Range musician is once again making the scene in Grand County as the next featured performer at Java Mic Night. Joining him for the special performance will be his dad, Harry, on tenor saxophone and his band cellist Wesley Michaels.
The Denver singer/songwriter sounds a little like musician Jack Johnson and has an incredible voice range. His rapid finger-picking wows his audiences.
He started playing at a young age, dreaming about “having long hair and head-banging away,” gathering inspiration from metal bands like Metallica and Guns ‘N’ Roses. Then his school’s jazz ensemble began to soften that “metal edge.” He said he still enjoys metal, but that “it’s kind of an in-the-closet thing.”
Drabkin later became a student of guitar virtuoso Ted Reece. With his new-found wisdom, his unique voice, incredible guitar style, and original tunes, Drabkin has since played to full crowds. He has also opened for many national acts, including Wendy Woo and Nina Storey. Last March, he was asked to be the main support for the sold-out John Butler Trio show at the Fox Theatre.
Many people choose music, he said, but for him it was the other way around. Playing a mix of rock and jazz, with a “percussive’ overall vibe, his music is “upbeat” and “groovy” with “mellow, soulful vocals.” He plays the guitar “very rhythmically,” he said, “kind of like it’s a percussion instrument in itself. It has a jam feel.”
This past year, Drabkin has been playing with a band with “a whole mess” of players and said the members had a huge influence on his playing and singing. He also has been focusing on production and recording projects, with a new full band album due out Jan. 23.
For Friday night’s show, Drabkin will showcase several new songs he’s been working on, performing on his Martin D-28 and if brave enough, he said, his Les Paul.
He said choosing the right songs can be a trick and that he always reaches a point in his set list where it says, “funny ” gauge audience.” That’s when he’ll throw in three or four “pretty ridiculous songs that people get a kick out of.”
Every Friday night through the winter season, the Roastery is hosting diverse talent from throughout the Grand County area and Colorado region. Schedule for the event’s fifth year includes Gregory Alan Isakov Jan 9, Aaron Espe Jan 16, a Grand County Blues Society show or open mic night Jan 23, Andy Irvine and the Brian Jordan Trio Jan. 30, The Really Serious String Band Feb. 6, The Blackthorn Project Feb. 13, Jasco Jazz Feb. 20, Brad Pregeant Feb. 27, Open Mic March 6, open events March 13 and 20, Haas ‘n’ Friends March 27, and Ali ‘n’ Friends April 3.
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