"I'm pretty sure no other performer at the festival had more hair on his head than Rob Drabkin. The afro-headed acoustic guitar player cuts a memorable image to people who see him perform for the first time. He busted out his trademark flip flop rock tunes to an adoring crowd. In fact, after the third song, Rob and his band were pulling in inquisitive newbies like a moth to a flame." - Westword Magazine, Mile High Music Festival Review.
Rob Drabkin is a native of Denver, CO. His Mom had him take piano lessons at 5. That only lasted for a few months. At 11, Rob got lucky and scored an electric guitar from his parents. He and his older sister would sneak Metallica and Guns N’ Roses cassettes into the house. They loved listening to this “forbidden” music and Rob learned all of the guitar parts on both cassettes note for note. Soon after, Rob found himself playing Rhythm Guitar in Jazz Band in middle school. Learning a tune like “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane was a lot different than playing Heavy Metal anthems “Welcome to The Jungle” and “Enter Sandman.” Rob loved what he was hearing though and stuck with it. Now he says, “I started to really love Jazz and especially playing with a horn section.”
Rob went to Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas where he majored in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Spanish. Music was officially on the back burner until he took a life changing trip to New York with his father. He says, "My Dad played Jazz for over 30 years until he changed course and got into medicine. When we were in New York, we re-connected with his old Jazz friends and it was so inspiring to see these guys who were well over 60 years old, still playing and grooving. It made me start thinking about my own career path." He adds, "Its kind of embarrassing to admit, but I had an epiphany while watching the Broadway musical Chicago. I decided right then and there that I didn't want to work in a research lab for the rest of my life and that I wanted to pursue music full time, as a singer/songwriter/musician even though I had never sung a note up to that point." Rob made good on his promise and after graduating from college, started spending 8 hours a day working on his singing and songwriting skills.
"On These Heavy Feet" is Rob's first full length release. "Rise at Sea" is the opening track and it has a nice infusion of lush vocals mixed with clever and complex time signatures. "She Comes and Goes" is a beautiful story of love and loss that has the polish of a tune ready to become a Top 40 hit. "Little Steps" is an all out rocker that you can dance and sing along to. Rob says, "I want to write songs that make people dance, sing and think as well." "On These Heavy Feet" has already hit #10 on the CMJ chart on KOTO radio in Telluride, CO. KBCO invited Rob to perform in their world renowned Studio C twice. He's also gotten some serious play on KBCO (Boulder, CO) and KINK (Portland, OR).
For being relatively new to the music scene, Rob has assembled a truly impressive roster of musicians including: Jazz virtuoso "Bijoux" Barbosa on bass (played and recorded with Herbie Mann and Dave Grusin) Brian McRae, (played and toured with The Bodeans and The Freddy Jones Band) Eric Moon on keyboards (toured with Bjork and recorded with Victor Wooten) and his dad, Harry Drabkin. He talks about working with his father on one of the tracks on "On These Heavy Feet." "Lullaby" is an instrumental collaboration that my Dad and I did. It really highlights his Sax playing. Being able to play some live shows with my Dad is incredible. The way he plays and his tone are simply unforgettable. There is a certain quality that just sings through his horn and not many sax players have that."
Rob has achieved some big wins in his career so far. He was voted Colorado's Best Singer/Songwriter by Westword Magazine 2008- 2010. He gathered enough votes to earn his turn on stage at The Mile High Music Festival with artists like The Fray, Widespread Panic, Tool, and Ben Harper. He's done national tours with Trevor Hall, Tea Leaf Green, Carbon Leaf and Davy Knowles/Back Door Slam. Rob recalls how Davy invited him to join the tour. Davy said, "Rob, why not save yourself the gas money and just come on the bus with us for a month?" We traveled the country and played incredible places like Higher Ground and The Bowery Ballroom. It was a phenomenal experience that helped start my career and reach new fans."
Rob also got a huge kick playing at Film on Red Rocks at the legendary Red Rocks amphitheater. He laughs, "Not a lot of people get to play their own music at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and we got to play to a sold out crowd before they showed The Big Lebowski which was nothing short of a dream come true. It was really cool because I grew up in Colorado and got to see so many of my favorite musicians play there."
"I'm having a great time making music and I just want to inspire others to go after what will truly make them happy. Maybe that's why I keep my hair a bit crazy. I just want to be expressive and keep creating music."