MP3 Rob Tobias and The Northwest Express - The Northwest Express
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15 MP3 Songs in this album (68:18) !
Related styles: Pop: Folky Pop, Reggae: Pop-Reggae, Mood: Upbeat
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The ubiquitous Rob Tobias is Mr. Northwest â by way of Ohio
BY SERENA MARKSTROM
Published: Friday, Dec 17, 2010 06:00AM
Rob Tobias is about as famous as you can be in this town without being involved in athletics, politics or television news. The man gets around. Whether playing one of the annual Beatles tribute events, entertaining at the Saturday and Holiday markets or at the Oregon Country Fair, or stoking the crowdâs energy at a peace rally or political gathering, Tobias is one of the more active musicians on the local scene.
On Sunday, his band the Northwest Express will play a CD-release event for its self-titled debut, a recording of mostly original music by Tobias. Tobias said people often approach him and say heâs âso Northwest,â but the fact is that he grew up in Ohio. Still, the West Coast import does love it here, and the title track of the CD pays tribute to many positive aspects of this part of the world. âFor so many people, itâs the end of the rainbow/ Breaking free from California, New York and Chicago,â he sings. He also takes note of the regionâs independent spirit, its good food and beer, and the multitude of rivers.
If the Northwest has a little of all the good stuff, Tobiasâ own songwriting mirrors that diversity. His blended style samples from jazz, blues, reggae, folk and rock. Tobias worked on the album with Billy Barnett at Gung-Ho Studio. When the producer was asked about how to describe Tobiasâ music, Barnett called it âhippie blue-eyed soul,â Tobias recalled with a laugh.
The CD starts off with âThe Seed,â a reggae-tinged number that serves almost as an overture for many of the themes explored throughout the disc. âI like the notion of (the song) being a seed for the rest of it,â he said. âItâs really about doing the thing that you love and letting that be an inspiration, and doing it with all youâve got. ...âReally, itâs about that whole thing of âdo what you love and the rest will follow.â_â And for Tobias, music is his love.
In fact, love is everywhere on the CD. Even if Tobias doesnât quite accept the âhippie soulâ label, heâs written something of a soundtrack for progressive values. âPlanetary Bluesâ laments environmental degradation. âBless All the Landâ gives thanks for the natural beauty still with us. There is one cover tune on the album, a piece written by Saratone, a Portland artist. He also has a track called âGreen Is Hot!â a playful list of a song that gives examples of âgreenâ ideas that would help lessen human impact on the environment. Tobias also goes back in history, piecing together Abraham Lincolnâs words with his own in âHouse Divided,â a folk song about freedom and human rights. âAbe was a wise man/ He knew just what to say/ And many of his words/ Hold true to this day,â he sings.
But the album is not all political. There are a couple of love songs and tracks that touch on spiritual themes. âThe Wealth of Kingsâ is a type of love song because itâs a tribute to Tobiasâ mother, who penned the lyrics. She died in 2005. When Tobias was home in Ohio organizing her belongings, he came across the poem. He remembered it being posted at the house with another poem, both displayed in a double-sided, padded cloth frame. âIt had been in our house; I had certainly seen it,â he said of rediscovering the poem. âYou just look a little closer when you lose someone.â
The Northwest Express features Tobias on keyboards, acoustic guitar, vocals and harmonica. Rich Glauber is on bass, keyboard and vocals, and Nancy Evergreen handles backup vocals. Ralph Novak plays guitars, Sean Brennan is on drums and David OâTool plays alto saxophone and flute. The album also includes slide guitar by Jerry Zybach, violin by Chip Cohen and contributions from Theo Halpern, Rick Markstrom, Karly Loveling and Eostar.
Tobias knows there are easier ways to earn a living. âItâs just a calling for me,â he said, âand thatâs part of âThe Seedâ thing. ... I just think that if you can do something that inspires one person or is healing. ... âTo me, itâs modeling doing what you love and hoping for the best, and that it can sustain you and help sustain people around you.â
The band includes:
Rob Tobias: Acoustic guitar, Keyboard, Vocals, Harmonica
Rich Glauber: Bass, Keyboard, Vocals
Nancy Evergreen: Vocals
Ralph Novak: Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Bass
Sean Brennan: Drums
David OâToole: Horns, Flute
More info can be found at www.robtobias.com and on Rob Tobias's facebook, myspace, and youtube pages.
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