And now that we have that bit of business out of the way, let’s get to know Robert Chandler, whose story was so interesting to us that we decided to run the full transcription of the interview instead of excising the choicest cuts. (Suggestion: take a listen to Robert’s bands, Daddy-O! and Blues Alley, while you’re reading. It’s more rock ‘n’ roll that way.)
Rock Square: When did you start playing guitar and how/why did you decide to become a musician?
Robert: I actually started playing drums & percussion at the age of 9. By the time I was 11 I was performing professionally with concert bands & symphonies on Cape Cod & Southeastern Massachusetts. At 13, I was performing with local jazz bands in clubs with much older musicians. I didn't start playing guitar until my mid-twenties as a form of therapy after coming out of a coma after a mugging attack. Been hooked ever since.
What were the bands and albums that inspired you to start playing your own music?
Robert: Interesting question. The simple answer is: everyone. Two events started the whole thing. At the age of 3 I can remember being mesmerized by the hi-hat of the drummer playing at a company Christmas party where my Dad worked and deciding that's what I wanted to do. I also remember my Dad playing Johnny Cash's "Get Rhythm" on his suitcase record player and my life was decided right then.
We hear you recently had all of your equipment stolen. What happened?
Robert: Christmas Eve I always perform for children stuck in my area hospitals. Just me & my guitar singing Christmas songs. I got home around 11 and opened gifts with my wife. Went outside at 1:30 to shut off the Christmas display lights and went to bed. In the morning my wife saw that my mini-van was empty. All of the equipment for my bands was stolen: drums, amps, PA, mics... everything gone. Included were a one-of-a-kind Gretsch drumset, a 1960 Ampeg bass amp and a tweed Fender Deluxe amp.
Can you tell me a little bit about the band you play in now?
Robert: I actually have 2 bands. Blues Alley, which I've had since 1985 and performs blues, swing & soul. And, Daddy-O!, which is my main performing band that I've had since 1999 and performs hardcore 50s music: rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, doo wop, country & pop. Daddy-O! just released our 5th CD before the New Year.
What are some other musical projects you've been involved in over the years?
Robert: I teach music privately. I currently have 31 students in voice, guitar, bass, drums, percussion, banjo, mandolin, dobro, upright bass, cello, violin, pinao & harmonica. I also repair string instruments. Writing & recording are also part of my bands’ schedules.
Which instrument do you focus on most these days?
Robert: Among all the instruments I play I would have to say that I spend the most time on the guitar, electric and acoustic equally. I find the instrument challenging mentally and just holding a guitar is such a personal relationship sort of thing. It's almost like the guitar wants an intimate, personal relationship with you as a player. No other instrument is like it at all...and I play a few instruments! Mind, body and soul are connected and shared.
Needless to say, Rock Square could not have been happier to see the Takamine go to a musician in need of new equipment. We’d like to thank Robert for taking the time to talk to us and express our gratitude to all of you for keeping this Community great. And remember, you have two weeks to enter our January giveaway. May the guitar gods be on your side!
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