Robert Oakes

Tyringham, MA United States

Bio: i've been writing songs and playing music for pretty much as long i can remember. maybe it all started when, as a kid, i would help my father, a singer and drummer, carry his equipment into bars and clubs and wedding halls and set up for his gigs. or maybe it was when i'd watch my grandmother, who was totally unschooled, sit down at the piano in the family room and belt out old-time songs with her raspy voice and stiff fingers.

during my high school and college years, while also engrossed in poetry and literature, i studied composition informally with greenwich symphony orchestra resident conductor and manhattan school of music professor david gilbert, and later with edward green, composer and professor at manhattan school. i also studied voice, bass, piano and guitar privately. i often sat in with my dad's band in those days, which gave me many opportunities to learn 'on the fly' from some fabulous jazz and blues players. in 2007/2008, i studied voice and performance with singer, songwriter, musician and producer joy askew.

from the time i was a kid, i played bass guitar and sang in a bunch of funk/rock/pop bands with my brother john, who played the drums and sang. sometimes dad would sit in with us brothers, too, making it a true family affair. as time went on, my love for singing and songwriting really started to take hold, and eventually, singer/songwriter became my main role in any musical project that i became involved in.

in 1994, i offered my homage to early prog rock acts like genesis and king crimson as songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist for the ambitious art rock trio magrathean snow. following the break-up of magsnow later that year, i ventured off on my own, playing numerous gigs in the new york metro area, appearing at bookstores, cafes, festivals and clubs. in 1995, i recorded my first studio album, 'dweller-at-the-oak-trees,' a collection of songs that contained the drama of the magsnow days and included a few tunes that i can only describe as musical-theater-esque.

between 1996 and 1998, i shifted toward a much folkier style, writing and playing primarily on acoustic guitar. in 1997, i recorded an album called 'roots down underground' to capture this vibe.

in 1999, i formed and fronted the folk-rock/world-fusion band seedensol, playing guitar, flute, percussion and dulcimer. with a style that reflected my growing interest in chant, tribal drumming and various kinds of traditional music, seedensol appeared at a number of nyc-area venues, including the outpost in the burbs in montclair, nj. we recorded a collection of songs, played a few great gigs and then disbanded.

in the months and then years that followed, i became something of a musical hermit, playing live only occasionally, including some very inspiring performances with world-renowned turkish folk musician latif bolat. but i wrote pretty steadily during that time, setting down ideas and making demos for what would become the album that i have just released, 'heart broken open.'

in 2003, feeling a growing pull to go it alone for a while, i left the light and noise of the new york city area and moved to the quiet and dark of the berkshires in western massachusetts. once settled in to my new life here, i began working on the 'heart broken open' project. now that it's finished, i've begun setting my sights on performing live again, as well as working on producing and releasing as many of my catalog of unfinished songs as i can. i expect this will be a work in progress for some time to come.
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