|Terry Robb inducted into Oregon Music Hall of Fame
Parkrose grad slated to perform at alumni homecoming dance
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
He has performed for, arguably, more Portland music lovers than any musician in history.
He is considered one of the top acoustic and electric blues guitarists west of the Mississippi.
He is versatile enough to tour with diverse acts that have included classic rock icon Steve Miller; Woodstock headliner Canned Heat; three time Grammy Award winner Los Lobos, an American Chicano rock band; folk and American roots influenced songster Maria Muldaur - who sings on one of his nine albums - and blues legend Buddy Guy.
He is, according to ZZ Top guitarist frontman Billy Gibbons, the Master of the Stratocaster. When Gibbons is in Portland, he seeks out Robb's performances.
He has universal respect from local music industry peers.
He is a master of his craft.
He is Terry Robb, one of the hardest working musicians in Portland's live music history.
Robb is being inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame this month. Over the course of his career, he has put out nine albums and produced half a dozen, appeared on recordings for 16 labels and started his own record label.
He has won - an unprecedented 28 times - the Cascade Blues Association's highest honor, the Muddy Award.
Robb hangs out with and plays with locally famous blues frontmen Curtis Salgado, Robert Cray, blues frontwomen Linda Hornbuckle and Janice Scroggins (he just finished producing Scroggins and Hornbuckle's new album on his label, PsycheDelta Records).
With all this fame and praise, Robb was raised in Parkrose, the birthing ground for more than a few talented musicians, singers and songwriters (see sidebar on page 15).
The Mid-county Memo had a personal one-on-one interview over coffee and tea with Robb last month and discussed his take on life, his philosophy of musical performance, and his upcoming show at a Parkrose High School homecoming event Friday, Oct. 30.
The event - produced by volunteers of the Parkrose Educational Foundation - is actually a three-part affair: a pep rally at the Burgerville restaurant across the street from the school, followed by the annual reunion for PHS graduates, and the homecoming game - Liberty Falcons vs. Parkrose Broncos. After the game, the alumni will party with the Terry Robb Electric Blues Band up the street at The Refectory Restaurant.
Opening for Robb is a band of PHS alumni, The Grodie Brothers & Friends. The band consists of Rich Waggoner, guitar, vocals and songwriter; Jim Satterfield, electric bass and vocals; Spud Henderson, vocals and Jerry Towell, guitar and vocals.
For more information on the alumni homecoming event, or to buy tickets, visit the foundation's Web site at www.parkroseedufdn.org and look for the event's ad on page 19.
In person, Robb is easygoing, self-effacing, phlegmatic, articulate, unassuming and unpretentious. Not what you'd expect from a man with his career accomplishments and from a man who is - for wont of a better term - a blues god. He has a sharp sense of humor and irony, and he is passionate about what he believes in.
At the age of 8, inspired by his uncle, Dave Garofalo - a guitar player with the Lawrence Welk Band - Robb picked up his first guitar and has been obsessing over mastering its intricacies ever since.
He said there was always music around his house. When the Beatles hit, Everybody around got a guitar, and I started hearing blues and jazz at a really young age and got hooked on it. I was always inclined toward music; there was something about it that made my life better.
What does being a working musician over the last 41 years mean to Robb?
It means being in bands; being out of bands; being a solo performer, a duo or a trio act; being a music arranger; being the band frontman; being the band's paid guitar-for-hire-sideman; being a songwriter; being a paid guitar-for-hire-gunslinger in the recording studio; being a booking agent for himself and the band; being a producer in the recording studio; being the promoter and marketer of the band and its products; being the stage manager, roadie, sound engineer, and lighting technician; being a travel agent for himself and the band and being his own manager as well as the band's manager.
At this point in his career, Robb has more help with tasks related to music and business that formerly took him away from his true passion: performing and entertaining.
Robb wouldn't have it any other way, though. This is all I've ever done. I produce records and I teach. It's always been about music. I didn't choose to do this. This is just what I do.
Why the blues for Robb?
When I started listening to music in the '60s, there was a blues explosion. All this black blues music that white people were denied listening to began seeping into counter-culture music. Jimi Hendrix, Cream and those bands - they were all blues bands - doing it the way they were doing it at that time.
Because of that, old blues guys were being rediscovered. It wasn't unusual to go to a rock concert and see Albert King opening. Blues was around. But then it disappeared and didn't come back until the '80s.
Two Louies Magazine Publisher Buck Munger - also being inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame this month - said when he was going through his old issues and writing his induction speech, he saw a Terry Robb Band ad from the first edition, December 1979. This was at the end of the disco era, on the cusp of the golden age of live music in Portland. Considered Portland's version of Rolling Stone, Two Louies Magazine was named for Portland's greatest hit, Louie Louie by the Kingsmen.
He's an incredibly proficient musician, Munger said. He's not just the world's nicest guy and (a) great entertainer with the wonderful stage persona; he's actually a superior musician. And soulfully superior, which is even harder to attain.
In the early '80s, Robb became the musician he is today when he dropped the overly strict mind-set of adhering to a blues-only syllabus. Like Duke Ellington said, 'Music is either good or bad, there's no category.' I wrote an instrumental song and people asked me, 'Where did you get that cord change?' I heard it on some pop song on the radio, liked the way it sounded and put into it what I was doing. I have a pretty open mind about music.
Portland's famous blues man, Curtis Salgado, talked to the Memo while on the road to Memphis and described Robb as intense, he's not limited or restricted to anything; he's unqualified, and he knows his history. Salgado and Robb, who've known each other for more than 20 years, produced one album and perform together often. Salgado said, I love him madly. He's a great musician and a soulful player. If you're a working musician, according to Salgado, a sense of humor is an essential survival tool. We both have the same sense of humor; musicians definitely have a wicked wit, and Terry's got a very sharp wit. I have the best times on the road when I'm with Terry.
A twist of fate was the reason the Robb family called Parkrose home.
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