Rob Duquette is a multi-instrumentalist musician with an emphasis on drums, percussion and guitar. A full time performer and music educator since 1998, Rob maintains an active national gigging career and calls his musical home Portland, Maine.
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 both vocally, and 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, Johnny D’s 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 Cactus Highway. This jazz-pop-folk group gained national recognition from 2000-2004. 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.”
Since receiving his Masters degree in Jazz Studies with and emphasis in World Music Genres, Rob has been busy with his various musical activities, his kids and for 13 years now, he has taught African Drumming at the University of New England. For Rob, it’s all about creating and maintain a heart connection with his audience, friends and family. 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.
Before focusing on his original music, Rob made his career as a well respected and in-demand sideman, most notably as a member of Jonathan Edwards’ touring band. He has also regularly played with other notables like Jack Sonni (Dire Straits) and the legendary composer David Amram.