Robert Oakes
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Robert Oakes

Lenox, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE

Lenox, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"yes, there is some good music coming from them there (berkshire) hills"

saturday november 3rd finds berkshire county resident robert oakes appearing at the dreamaway lodge in becket to perform his self-described combination of folk, indie and progressive music. after listening to oakes on my space, one can hear influences ranging from artists as unique and diverse as jeff buckley, billy bragg, dead can dance, pink floyd and many more. robert oakes is such a unique talent that it's a crime to throw him into the oft-misused "singer-songwriter" category. most musicians lumped under than moniker are usually thought to be some aging hippy with a guitar singing out of the joni mitchell or simon & garfunkel songbook. while oakes would probably cite them as influences, he's simply not rearranging classic songs and performing them as something interesting. he's utilized the influences from his vast personal musical library to create something quite special.

oakes generally performs most of his material alone, but has had other musicians guest on some of his tracks. his my space profile boasts five tracks showcasing the many directions robert will move in with his music. oakes has spent most of 2007 working on his most recent album and if you're able to make it to the dreamaway lodge this weekend, his performance is sure to be a highlight of the evening. -

"songwriters in mixed company"

a couple years ago, new york city singer-songwriter robert oakes began looking to relocate to a place where he could recharge his creative batteries and soak up some inspiration. "i felt very strongly that i needed to change my environment," explained oakes. "i needed to withdraw from the frenzy a bit, to find some solitude, where i could begin to work on a new album. i wanted to be in a place that was quieter, with more natural beauty, but i also wanted this place to have a fertile arts and cultural scene."

oakes found the ideal match.

"the berkshires are a perfect combination of these two things," he said. "i was excited to find that there was already a lot going on, and i felt i could do something to contribute."

tomorrow night, his contribution begins at mixed company, 37 rossetter street in great barrington with a new monthly songwriters-in-the-round series organized by oakes ...

... oakes began his love affair with song as a kid, sitting in the dark with headphones on straining to make out the words of a well-written song, searching for a thread of universal connection.

"i knew this writer was trying to say something, to get something across that might mean something to me, and really i wanted to know what it was." he reminisced. "i guess i wanted to be affected. and i also wanted to know if this person felt or thought the way i did. i wanted to feel like i wasn't alone inside myself."

as oakes grew, his wish to reciprocate evolved through his own compositions. "music, for me, was a way to connect. as i began to feel these connections through other people's songs, i started to feel drawn to reply, to somehow send a return message, and that's when i started to write about what i was thinking and feeling." - the berkshire eagle


heart broken open (2009), big sleep records
gathered leaves (2008), self-released



after a few years spent soul-searching, writing and recording, while living alone in the woods, i'm thrilled to announce the release of 'heart broken open,' my first recording project since i went into the studio with my band seedensol in 1999.

making this record has been a journey that began when i first started writing these songs about 10 years ago, during a time when i was going through a crisis of belief and a test of mental mettle. but what really set things in motion was my move away from my home, friends and family in the new york city area to the relative seclusion of the berkshires in western massachusetts, followed by the break-up of my marriage, a relationship that had spanned nearly a decade of my life.

the tracking for the record began in the winter of 2005 in an old red barn in a fairly remote part of the berkshire hills, where i lived alone and worked. from those humble beginnings of raw acoustic guitar, piano and vocal tracks, the production grew into a major undertaking, drawing upon the talents of more than 20 musicians, engineers and producers hailing from new jersey, new york, connecticut, massachusetts and pennsylvania. working closely with long-time friend and co-producer thom soriano, i was taken on a journey of discovery, as the songs showed us where they needed to go, how they wanted to sound. during this long and winding process, there were many, many twists in the road, many moments of surprise and revelation and plenty of deconstruction and painstaking rebuilds. this one has certainly taken its own time to come through, but the finished piece is something that, i feel, reflects all the care, love and life that was put into it.

i think of this album as an internal travelogue. it's a record of the thoughts and feelings i've experienced as i've gone through a period of intense challenge and change in my life. through all of it, this record has been my constant companion and my motivation to keep my head and heart above water and my feet moving forward. during the years i've spent writing and producing it, this record has meant the world to me. and now that it's ready for release, i sincerely hope it comes to mean something to you, as well.

* * *

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 (peter gabriel, joe jackson, laurie anderson).

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 prog 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 mu