Since the days of his youth Rob Barraco has always wanted to be a musician. As a young man growing up in Long Island, New York, Barraco immersed himself in the music of Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers Band, the Grateful Dead, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Poco before embarking on a music based education. The classically trained musician received his Bachelors Degree in Music at the State University of New York-New Paltz in 1978, but not before acquiring a taste for the jazz mastery of McCoy Tyner, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy. Upon graduation, Barraco was teaching music theory at the Great Neck Music Center when he received his first big career break becoming a regular player in the house band for the Bill Cosby produced television series, The Cosby Show and it's later spin-off, It's a Different World. Barraco became part of a prestigious music team comprised of many of New York's first call studio musicians such as: Randy Brecker, (trumpet), Al Foster (drums), Billy "Spaceman" Peterson (guitar), Dave Valentine (flute), and Tracy Wormworth, (bass).
In-between filming the series, Barraco toured for two years with Freddy Jackson, as well as joining forces with one of the best-known Grateful Dead influenced jam-bands, the Zen Tricksters. It was as a member of the Zen Tricksters that Barraco honed his improvisational music skills benefiting from a rigorous touring schedule that included over 200 dates a year for a solid ten years. During that period the Zen Tricksters recorded two critically acclaimed albums: The Holy Fool (Zebra Tango), and A Love Surreal (Zebra Tango). Interestingly, when Grateful Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland passed away in 1990, the Grateful Dead requested a demo tape from Rob in their search for a replacement keyboardist. Little did he know back then what the future had in store.
I met Rob when the Zen Tricksters played at the Maritime Hall in San Francisco. While I had known of the Zen Trickster's reputation, I was very moved by the awesome sound that the 4-piece band generated. And I was also mighty impressed by the intuitive and imaginative musical conversation amongst the players.
On October 7-9, 1999, Zen Tricksters' Rob Barraco and Jeff Mattson performed as members of Phil Lesh & Friends at the historic Warfirld Theater in San Francisco. The following month Barraco received the nod to reconvene with Lesh when Phil Lesh & Friends toured with rock icon Bob Dylan. Rob Barraco would also go on to tour and record with fellow Phil Lesh & Friends member Warren Haynes as a member of Gov't Mule. Barraco recorded with Gov't Mule on The Deep End Vol. 1 (ATO) and Vol. 2. (ATO). 2002 saw the debut release from Phil Lesh & Friends titled There & Back Again (Columbia) that included the Barraco/Mattson song "Leave Me Out Of This." Rob Barraco also found time to lend support to his former musical colleagues, The Zen Tricksters on their recently released Shaking off The Weirdness (Zebra Tango).
When the former Grateful Dead members decided to regroup last summer, Rob was selected to become a member of The Other Ones. His solid lead and harmony vocals, along with his trademark inventive keyboard work, have helped that legendary band reclaim much of its past glory. Rob also collaborated with Grateful Dead tunesmith Robert Hunter to write six new songs which he plans to release in an upcoming musical project. This year, The Other Ones decided to rename themselves The Dead. For them it was a chance to revisit the past further, however, for Rob it was the completion of the circle that began nearly 25 years ago.
On Movin' On Rob Barraco displays his multi-faceted piano playing on seven cuts that were recorded during two sessions. The piano is an instrument that goes straight to the soul, and Rob certainly proves that he is a musician that has a lot of soul to share.
I love ya man!
For more information
on Rob's current musical activities click here: Darkstar
The DragonFlys ~ Rob Barraco's Project and Other Stuff: RobBarraco.com