About Rob

Rob Duquette is a multi-instrumentalist musician with an emphasis on drums and percussion. A full time performer and music educator since 1998, Rob maintains an active gigging career splitting most of his time between Boston, Portland, Maine, and his own Gameroom Studios in Saco, Maine where he regularly teaches drums, percussion, and guitar. A classically trained percussionist, Rob also teaches World Music, African Drumming, and American Popular Music at the University of New England.

Growing up in southern New Hampshire, Rob bought himself his first drum set at age twelve. This development some households might view with trepidation but it provided Rob’s brothers respite from his otherwise relentless pop music renditions on the family organ. Hearing John Bonham and receiving Buddy Rich tapes from his grandfather led to a further interest in the sounds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Studies with Les Harris, Jr. at the University of New Hampshire, and later with Alan Dawson, built a strong jazz foundation for Rob’s move to the Boston area. Here he played  regularly at several venues including The Middle East and Club Passim.

Rob’s music life came to encompass the Boston and Portsmouth music scenes where he became known as a solid, tasteful, and inventive drummer. He also developed a secret life as a guitarist and singer and songwriter co-founding the jazz-pop-folk group Cactus Highway. Their debut record, which includes Rob’s original songs, aired worldwide and was supported by an extensive U.S. tour. Daniel Gewertz of The Boston Herald called Cactus Highway “the most rare of acoustic acts…a duo of true sophistication who merge folk, pop, jazz in flowing, cool, unpretentious ways.” The Village Voice responded to the record with a simple “Amazing.”

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Since receiving his Masters degree in Jazz Studies, Rob has been busy with his various musical activities and family.  Rob views music’s masters as guiding lights in a place of honor even as he moves away from them to find his own voice.  For Rob, teaching and learning are reciprocal, continuous and, especially now as a parent, define his contribution to his community and his role in its success. His relationship to community keeps his focus on the need in life to be present, to show up. Picking up a drum, a guitar, and writing music are his creative processes; it’s these which connect Rob to his higher power, to nature, and to the universe itself.

Selected appearances:

  • Club Passim (Cambridge, MA)
  • The Bluebird Café (Nashville, TN)
  • Kenny’s Castaways (New York, NY)
  • The Barking Spider (Cleveland, OH)
  • The Stone Church (Newmarket, NH)
  • Kendal Café (Cambridge, MA)
  • Nightstage (Cambridge, MA)
  • The Living Room (New York, NY)
  • TT the Bears (Cambridge, MA)
  • Hard Rock Café (Hollywood, CA)
  • The Press Room (Portsmouth, NH)
  • The Burren (Somerville, MA)
  • The Bitter End (New York, NY)
  • Nietzsche’s (Buffalo, NY)
  • Johnny D’s (Somerville, MA)

Selected performance and studio credits:

  • Jonathan Edwards
  • Marc Macisso
  • David Amram
  • Kirtan with Devadas
  • Mark Shilansky
  • Phil Sargent
  • Portland Jazz Orchestra
  • Randy Armstrong
  • David Pontbriand; sitarist
  • Tim Miller
  • Tony Zano
  • drumming for Chief Oskar Mokeme

Selected openings and shared bills:

  • David Massengill
  • Peter Mulvey
  • Aztec Two-Step
  • Michael Troy
  • Devonsquare
  • Greg Greenway
  • Catie Curtis
  • Roy Bookbinder
  • Ari Hest
  • Mary Gauthier

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