A Rob Whale of a Time Making Music

A Rob Whale of a time making Music - Think of a Song Productions blog for 'Just Songs'

I know I’ve bigged him up within these pages before but I’d like to once again pay tribute to my partner in music Rob Whale.

Rob has a rare combination of talents, without which it would be hard to imagine the Band named Brian cycle tours and related Fringe shows going ahead.

Committed Cyclist

First and foremost, he’s a top bloke. Anyone who’s done touring of any kind will know that compatibility is key to a harmonious and successful journey. And – in our particular case – having such a reliably committed cyclist on board is a real bonus.

Rob lives in the Peak District, near Huddersfield. There he subjects himself to some truly gut-wrenching hill climbs on a regular basis. Some of you may remember the Tour-de-France coming to the UK in 2014 – starting in Leeds, then making its way across the Peaks. Probably the most notable climb of that stage of the race was Holme Moss. This is on Rob’s doorstep – and he just can’t help himself from cycling up there. I’ve ridden over it myself and can report that there’s really no need. But each to their own.

Manic Energy

That aside – and arguably more important where you’re concerned – Rob is a talented creative musician. We met as music students in London, way back in the late 80s. There, I played drums for his funk/soul combo ‘Rob Whale & The Marleys’, which has to be one of the finest band names I’ve yet to encounter.

Rob wrote many of the songs and created blistering arrangements for vocals, rhythm section and horns. Among the Marleys ranks were the (then) young jazz-virtuoso Jason Yarde; Charlie Round-Turner (later Midge Ure’s keyboard player) and fledgling Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra regular Lisa Walsingham. But the driving force was always Rob and his manic stage energy.

Music Teacher of The Year 1999

Rob later turned his talents (and manic energy) to education. And, as head of music at a school near Sheffield, won the inaugural Classic FM / Times Education Supplement Music Teacher of The Year Award in 1999. He continued that work until recently but can now more often be found on a windy moor, volunteering for the National Trust, or leading music workshops for people with autism. He’s also a luminary of the Sheffield folk group Jake’s Rake.

The Point of Collaborating

So, I’ve been honoured and privileged to be able to harness Rob’s many qualities for a Band named Brian. It’s a wonder to – from a distance – be able to contact him and say “I’ve got a new song – do you think you can do something with it?”. Invariably, I’ll get a demo recording within a few days, complete with bass, violin and backing vocals. And often this will take the song in a whole new and unexpected direction. Which is – after all – the whole point of collaborating.

When it comes to preparing for the tours and shows, once we get together in the same room, things fall quickly into place. And there’s no mistaking that, where Rob and I are concerned, the whole is greater than the sum of the two parts (or was it the hypotenuse?!).

At a Venue Near You

So, cheers Rob and thanks for all the music. Do come along and say hi to him (and me) at one of our shows: we’d love to meet you. We look forward to entertaining you once again, very soon, at a venue near you .

On Tour

Just Songs will be presented as a one-off Bath Fringe show on May 30th at Burdall’s Yard, Bath and on tour from May 23rd to June 16th. (See Just Songs page for tour listing)

Bath Fringe Tickets

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Just Songs at Burdall’s Yard, Bath event tickets from TicketSource