Robbie Tucker & The Dangerous Crayons
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Robbie Tucker & The Dangerous Crayons

| INDIE

| INDIE
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With 2007's "Green Room" Robbie Tucker continues to grow as an artist while preserving his roots; both musical and personal. His passion for his touchstones, the Beatles and Roy Orbison, is still in evidence but Robbie doesn't forget that in their day these artists were groundbreakers and experimentalists.This third full album reaches high and shows that Robbie is not satisfied to merely play to his strengths but wants to bang against the restrictions of conventional pop formula.

The opening three tracks culminating in the extremely catchy "Marissa" are the most straightforward ones and serve to show Robbie as a pop rocker. Then things get interesting as he stretches his vocal and instrumental chops to their breaking limits. His ode to his brother "Jason Michael" morphs into a trippy kaleidoscopic ending that McCartney would be truly jealous of while "The Carnival" is a showcase for Robbie's ability to play a character in a song, it is dramatic and cinematic but not forced. Another highlight is the instrumental "Sexy French Man", with it's rootsy approach.

One day this artist will make a grand statement and "The Green Room" is another step in that positive direction - Stephen Macknight


“The day after I first took the medication,” recalls Montreal musician Robbie Tucker over a plate of pasta, “I ran up to Sherbrooke and ran as far as I could—jumping off stairs and avoiding people like the Flash or Batman—until I literally couldn’t run anymore. It felt so good!”

Tucker’s thinking back to 2005, when, at age 28, following months of increasing misery and despair, the New Brunswick native was at last properly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the devastating neurological disorder that keeps one trapped in an increasingly unresponsive body. “I had reached the point where it was so bad that I couldn’t play on stage anymore. It took me five minutes to get my guitar out of the case.

“It’s like someone took a big block of kryptonite and threw it over there,” he says, gesturing away from himself, “Aw, that’s great, thank you so much—but it’s still over there.”

If anyone gets a pass on superheroic self-reference, it’s a guy who’s not only faced down both PD and the serious side effects of his medication, but taken his regained musical chops to new heights, and lengths, as a device for stirring up awareness and action.

Tucker’s recent third album Green Room happily betrays his two gurus. Vocally in particular, he’s in awe of Roy Orbison, “someone who’s never been duplicated, ever—his voice is so unbelievably unique.” Tucker’s tunecraft nods to Paul McCartney. “He doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks about him anymore, I’m not sure he ever did. He just plays.”

Throwing in some Tim Burton ornamentation while keeping the foot-stomping rock intact, Tucker shows a knack not only for sharp melodies but for wit, theatricality and the unpredictable. “To have to sing something that’s three minutes long—verse, verse, chorus, verse, a generic song—to sing six of those in a row would be boring for me.

As ambitious as his pop-rock tunes are, Tucker’s myriad initiatives connect his music with PD militancy. His Web skills have proven pretty useful in both departments. In addition to his own site, Tucker has recently established two others of note. The first is MAPmusic.org, for Musicians Against Parkinson’s, which he intends to throw open for other artists concerned about PD to upload their work for fundraising purposes. The second is pdMoves.org, a locus for information and networking among people living with PD—he hopes to offer round-the-clock online neurologist visits, in time.

Offline (and back on stage after too long a wait), Tucker’s also launching a series of Parkinson’s awareness concerts, under the banner “Music for a Cause, a Cause for Music,” and breaking in his new backing band, the Dangerous Crayons. Now get this—Tucker aims to raise a million bucks over the next year, and has put up request.com pages twisting the arms of McCartney, Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and noted PD sufferer Michael J. Fox for help. Aiming high? Hell, why not?

But he’s less interested in seeing what money he does raise go to feel-good PSAs than towards practical results. An example he gives is, “Tonight, this person in Pennsylvania needs deep-brain stimulation, and they haven’t got insurance. Without it, they won’t have much of a life, so we’re going to try to raise enough money to pay for it.

“Okay, maybe we won’t start with deep-brain stimulation, that’s pretty pricey, but a wheelchair, or something that’s going to help someone in that field.” - RUPERT BOTTENBERG


Robbie Tucker is back with his third album GreenRoom. After being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, playing has been a struggle, but aggressively treating his condition has allowed this local musician to continue to pursue his passion.
"It feels like being trapped inside your body," Tucker said of his condition. He recalled a concert where it took him 15 minutes to get his guitar out of the box. The concert itself is something he just wants to forget because he just couldn't play or sing anymore.
His diagnosis and the treatment that followed allowed him to start playing again. His condition is always changing, with new medications and treatment options becoming part of his routine.
Tucker has no doubt that his music is protecting him from complete depression. "You have to have something you really love, I love the music," he said.
Robbie's struggle spawned a short film documentary that he hopes can inspire others with Parkinson's. The short film by Isabelle Lacombe is currently available at http://exposure.cbc.ca/category/documentary and deals with Tucker's return to the stage. The musician also hopes that the documentary can help to create awareness of the disease, that will in turn lead to more support and research in finding a cure.
Tucker said of his love of music, "I can't hold it back. It doesn't matter what time it is. I have to." He has even been known to leave his apartment late at night and head down to the subway just so that he could play.
As for Tucker's songwriting skills, he doesn't write songs from his own point of view, but tries to understand other's realities. In a tight mixture of folk and rock, his lyrics are a testament.
The stage would be the best place to get to know the singer-song writer; the stage is where he lets loose. Tucker's live performances are so full of energy and emotion. He also hopes to switch from his live acoustic sets to being backed by a full band.

- Peter Asp


Discography

June 2008 Robbie Tucker & The Dangerous Crayons Live DVD ((( Musicians Against Parkinson's ))) Awareness Concert

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