Rob Drabkin ’04

Runnin’ Down a Dream

By Donna Parker

Rob Drabkin, who received a double bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and Spanish from Trinity in 2004, is living his dream – on a tour bus with Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam – playing music, traveling town to town, and finally seeing what life is like on the road.

“I opened for Davy in Boulder, Colo., a year ago and he liked what I played so we stayed in touch,” says Rob.

“The band was kind enough to put me on the bus with them to do the tour and now I’m the opening act.  We’ve played Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore, along with a few other cities.  It’s great!  We play in one city, tear down the equipment and then hear the roar of the bus engine at 3 a.m. as we move onto the next place.”

Rob, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa, decided senior year he wanted to play music. 

“A lot of thought went into it.  It’s an identity on one level.  There is no better way to define yourself than putting something you’ve created out there for the world,” says Rob.

“Although I did well in the sciences, I wasn’t sure about the footprint I might make in that area.  However, music was always there with me and it just connected my dots.”

Rob played electric guitar at 11 years old and that was mostly metal, but the jazz ensemble in his high school opened his eyes to new rhythms, chords, and the beauty of improvisation.  Those fabrics are woven into his current style which he describes as focused on the lyrical aspect with an upbeat twist, similar to the music of Dave Matthews or John Mayer.

“I played at Red Rocks last summer which is a larger audience than my usual gigs.  Having my own play set for 30 minutes was four parts amazing and one part terror,” he jokes.

He’s developed quite a following in his hometown of Denver, but word travels fast and Rob played for the Democratic National Convention in 2008, as well as performed recently for former President Bill Clinton and several senators.  His song titled Sweet Things is now in rotation on Sirius Channel 30:  The Coffee House and his work has been performed in the world renowned Studio C.

“I get the feeling I’m on the right path.  One little piece of the puzzle comes together at a time and it’s good fun!  Actually, doing research in a science lab is not crazily different than writing music and piecing it together.  It’s undiscovered and something that hasn’t been done.”

Rob’s decision to gravitate to guitar playing for a living began with James Worman, department of music, and the jazz ensemble at Trinity.  That’s when he started his curiosity about full-time music as a profession.

“Also, Joe Gonzalez, department of music, was my guitar professor and is the number one professor with whom I keep in touch.  He’s the first one I send my CDs to play.  I still play songs for his classes and then we finish it off with breakfast tacos,” jokes Rob.

“Trinity was a challenge for me and a huge period of self discovery.  It led me to where I am now – opening my first big show this month in Denver and releasing my first full-length album, On These Heavy Feet.”

You may contact Rob at rob@robdrabkin.com or pick up his latest CD at http://robdrabkin.bigcartel.com/product/on-these-heavy-feet .