I won't bore you with too many details, but I've been playing music most of my life. I started on the saxophone when I was in 4th grade.It almost didn't last. I was more interested in running around playing outside than practicing. My grandfather was evidently a talented musician, but I never knew him, as he died long before I was born. He played various string instruments, as well as a "Squeeze Box", which I still have. I could tell that my dad had musical aptitude, but he never had the opportunity when he was growing up. He could whistle beautifully. I recall being asked in a state band audition how I learned my vibrato. The auditioner probably was expecting me to say my teacher taught me, but I said, " Oh, my dad does that when he whistles". He must have liked it, since I passed the audition.
I played my first "paid job" in 6th grade. I still remember one of the tunes we played -Wild Weekend by the Rebels. When I was in 7th grade, dad brought an old Kay guitar home from work one day and I started to learn to play it. My first electric guitar was a Japanese "Leban" and a Supro amp (which I wish I still had) that my dad got at a pawn shop. From there, I graduated to a Vox Super Lynx Deluxe semi-hollow body and a Fender Deluxe Reverb (wish I still had that too). I've played in bands pretty much non-stop from 9th grade until the present, although I did take about a 6 year hiatus when my kids were young. My first band was the Morticians. Our theme song was the Rolling Stones' Paint It Black. We had a hearse. It didn't run. During my college years as a music major at the University of Delaware and thereafter, I played in a number of different bands and from that, developed life long friendships. I've been playing with the same group of musical cohorts (the Funsters) since 1992. That all started when our singer, Sherman Ward, booked a high-end, black-tie affair in Philly without having a band. He booked the job and then started calling his old friends. What he didn't tell us was that: 1) He told them if you don't like us you don't have to pay us. 2) He had rented a sound system for the amount we would be paid. Good news is, they liked us and the sound system was paid for. We didn't make a dime, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. For me, that was the beginning of the Funsters. In addition to Sherman, the fellow Funsters for life are Ed Shockley on drums and vocals, brothers Greg and Keith Mack on guitars, Dickie Messick on bass, Tom Houska on keys, Jon Fletcher on trumpet and vocals, Grier White (whom I've known since elementary school) on sax and vocals, and sound man extaordinaire Marty LeMaire. Trumpeter Jon Fletcher, a friend since our days at the U of D, also plays piano. He and I work as a duo (the Robert Brothers).
Along the way, I've written horn arrangements for a number of projects including the Memphis style horns for Vinyl Shockley. Over the past 20 or so years, Funster Singer/Songwriter/drummer Ed Shockley has collaborated with Kevin Walsh writing originals for Vinyl Shockley. It's good Americana music. Jon and I have supplied the horns on all four Vinyl Shockley albums.
I've also been fortunate enough to play a number of jobs with Motown artists including The Tempations, The Four Tops, and Martha and the Vendelas. For those, I played the distinctive bari sax parts, which was very special for me.
More recently, I've been playing with a group of musicians known as String Theory. We play World Folk Music ranging from Celtic, Klezmer, and music from various other parts of the world (such as the Faroe Islands). It's fun and challenging because it's music I wouldn't normally get to play, I'm playing a number of different instruments, and I get to sight read.
All for now!