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Rob Drabkin and his hair will be playing at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival on Sept. 18.
Rob Drabkin and his hair will be playing at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival on Sept. 18.

Rob Drabkin has to be one of the busiest performers on the local music scene.

Drabkin divides his time between solo shows and his full band. That’s when he’s not busy winning local music awards, opening for national acts and playing gigs around the country.

The Denver musician just worked on a re-make of the Allman Brothers’ “Melissa” with famed guitarist Davy Knowles from Back Door Slam/The Rhythm Devils.

Fans can download the tune for free this week, and Drabkin was happy to talk to the Colorado Daily about his music and career.

Q: How did you start your career?

A: I’m a native Denverite and I started off playing at open mics four years ago. I’d play two of my songs and a Beatles’ song at the shows.

My first unofficial gig was at Cheesman Park. A guy hired me to play while he proposed to his girlfriend. It was my first ever performance.

I played my song, but when he proposed she said no. I still got paid.

Q: You play solo and with a band. How is that working?

A: I definitely do my share of singer-songwriter shows, but I also do a lot with the band. There’s an advantage, because I can play an acoustic folkie show or perform with my full four-piece band.

The common thread that runs through both, is a real rhythmic focus.

Throughout, my tunes are groove-based with a percussive feel. I can play the songs with just me and my guitar — or with the full range of a band. With the band shows, we make the dance floor flow and happen.

Q: What sets your lyrics and music apart?

A: Lyrically, I like to make people think. I want them to have pensive thoughts or grasp some idea out there. Those elements go hand-in-hand.

I like my music to have grooves and melodies — they’re dependent on each other.

I also love having that dance element in my music. I have a blast playing and it’s a very improvised feel up there anytime I play with the band.

Q: Why is there buzz on your music?

A: I definitely worked my butt off, for sure. I have a good feel for where my career is and what will help it. I’m always focusing on music, performing and throwing in new songs.

I also keep my eyes on shows coming to town and the possibility of being on the bill — or when it’s a good time to do a headlining show. I’m pretty pro-active.

I’ve opened for the John Butler Trio, Tealeaf Green the Wood Brothers, Kate Nash, Tim Reynolds and Davy Knowles.

Q: Why did you record “Melissa” with Davy Knowles?

A: Davy can kick my ass on guitar, and I opened for him and Back Door Slam at the old Trilogy Lounge in Boulder. They asked me to hop on a bus and tour with them. It was a total treat!

I was looking for a good song to cover and I’ve always loved ‘Melissa.’ Davey was recently in town and I asked him if he wanted to record it with me. He played guitar and it really came out nice.

There’s a nice bridge between his style of playing and mine. It’s a tune people are familiar with, so we’re putting it out there and seeing what happens. We’re offering a free download at

We had to write a check to Gregg Allman for $27 to use the song.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m playing the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival on Sept. 18. That will be awesome.

I do have a cool plan. I’m going to release songs and singles through my e-mail list and get all that new stuff out there.

It’ll be really cool to incorporate this network and build things up through people that have been supportive. It’s all about putting the music out there.