Mystic Shepherd Stumbles in the Dark
Rob, at age 5 began Piano Lessons in 1960. He can't remember is first Piano teacher's name, probably because he used to cry a lot in his lessons, however, his mom heard of a wonderful teacher in Pittsburg, CA, named Madeline Caruso. She had many students and held recitals many times a year. This gave Rob his first taste of performing, all very exciting. He studied with Mrs. Caruso for about 3 years until she died of Diabetes suddenly. The greatest thing she did for Rob was to give him a sense of confidence in himself. At the last lesson he had before she died, not knowing what was going to happen of course, she listened as Rob performed a piece from memory for an up-coming recital. She sat quietly after he finished, then told him that he should never give up, and if he continued, he would do very special things with music in his life. Strange thing for her to say, not knowing it was the last lesson. He never forgot this combination of praise that was also a bit of a burden for an 8 year old. Rob tried his best to be popular with the other kids by becoming known as the kid in class that played piano. By the 4th Grade, he started learning Cello and playing in the school orchestra. He took lessons from several Cello teachers over the next few years: Maurice Bergen (Concord, CA) Ariel Whitbeck (Danville, CA) Mildred Rosner (Berkeley, CA) and Renee Sharp at SF State University. In 6th Grade, Rob began to learn Trombone from Dennis Bell. Rob enjoyed this tremendously because this allowed him to participate in Jazz Band, the coolest music group in school that actually got some respect from the general student population. If you weren't playing sports, then Jazz Band was the next best thing. This continued through the years under the instruction of Loren White, and Don Young in High School, and onto SF State University's Concert Band. Rob graduated from Antioch Sr. High School, Antioch, California in June 1973, and worked a couple of summers between school for his uncle, John Foote, building vacation cabins around Pine Grove, CA. Between 1973 and 1975, Rob attended San Francisco State University as a Cello Major, also playing Cello in the SF State University Symphony under the direction of Lazslo Varga, the Principle Cellist of the famous NY Philharmonic during it's years with Leonard Bernstein. This was all very challenging (to say the least about a kid from small town USA, not to mention being so worn out from 'too much fun'), and ended up with Rob leaving school going back to live with mom and dad. After 6 months of rest, Rob went back to school at the local community college, Los Medanos in Pittsburg, CA, included course work in Psychology, Biology, Creative Writing, English and and of course Music with John Maltester and Stan Smith. The summer months included joint Jazz Band and Choir tours to Monterey and also a Southwest US Tour to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tuscon and LA, a very long bus ride. Through 1978, he earned all he could working for one of the oldest, most experienced, and music store owners ever, Jimmie Webb (what a character!) at Webb's Music Center, Antioch, CA. There were a lot of local musicians coming and going at the store, and soon Rob had become acquainted with and had joined a local band of friends as it's Bass Player. Soon, he moved onto and joined a local Antioch, CA Top 40 Band 'Promise'. Band members included Antioch High School Band Teacher, Don Young, and other High School students he had gone to school with from the Jazz Band. On recommendation of Don Young, this band took Vocal Lessons with Bob Boyle (emphasis on group harmony vocals) at Family Light Music School (Sausalito, CA: the same building that later became the Record Factory Recording Studios). This period also included Hammond Organ Lessons with Merl Saunders (Alumni of Jerry Garcia Band, Grateful Dead, Buffy St. Marie, among many others). Rob's first experience actually working in an all-original band was with 'Humblebee', a band he formed with local musicians Milt Haverty, Lance Richard, and Gary Reilly who was later replaced by Ken Shugarts. This band lasted long enough to record a couple of demos with not much success, leaving Rob and Lance Richard in search of a new band. By 1980, Lance discovered a great lounge band called 'Electric Wood'. It wasn't too long before both Rob and Lance had joined and replaced the other drummer and keyboard players in that band, later adding Rob's sister, Katy (Katy Burchett), as lead singer. They traveled as six band members and performed all over the Western USA, meeting many friends along the way. 'Electric Wood', eventually morphed into 'Dawn Patrol'. We played all over Western USA, favorites including local Reno, Nevada venues: Delmar Station and The Grand Ballroom. Five years on the road with a Top40 Band took it's toll. Rob met and settled down to a semi-normal life as a Banker, a Supervisor for a Janitorial Company, a Department Head in Janitorial in the Medical Field, and Internet Business Man, successful enough to chose where he wanted to live, landing back in Reno in 1999 and very thirsty again for the musical life, participating as a founding member of the heavy metal band, Crosshair Culture, which is headed for a serious revival soon. 2006 brought an invitation from Webdesigner Dave Moreno to join the tribute band ECLIPSE: A Tribute To Pink Floyd, which Rob is currently participating as Keyboard Player in the Richard Wright position. He started his own Recording/Rehearsal Complex and Record Label, Humblebee Records in 2004 and has produced and recorded many local bands and hosts occasional National Touring Acts when they are on the road in the area needing a place to rehearse. He has hosted entertainers that include former Starship Guitarist Craig Chaquico, Warren Hill, Ray Parker Jr., Saosin, and Omar Alexander. He has also hosted artist development sessions with Grammy award winning record producer Stephen Short, former owner of Trident Studios in London. Rob's film work includes the soundtrack for the computer animation film, Carla's Island, created in 1983 by Lawrence Livermore Lab's, Nelson Max, who was the first to mathmatically create algorythms simulating ocean waves and other ground breaking computer generated natural effects. This film gained much attention in Japan and other world technology exhibits. Rob has also work with well known documentary film maker, Lillimar Pictures, for work on the recent release, Contrary Warrior 'The Life And Times Of Adam Fortunate Eagle'. Rob is always asked, 'What kind of music do you like?' his response typically is, 'good music, there are only two kinds, good and bad'. For Rob, the music comes from somewhere else, it comes through at the oddest moments, and can be any style, he likes it all, and just considers it his burden/joy to bring it to life. Rob performs all instruments on these recordings, and would have used Soprano Sax and Oboe if he had ever had the patience of learning these too. His goal is to do more and more film music, which he absolutely loves.