The Almanac Story

South Fayette educator and coach has the music in him

Rob Eldridge is more than a teacher and soccer coach

“I’m absolutely a goal-oriented person, whether it’s developing a strong soccer program that is competing for WPIAL or state titles or leading a group of musicians in creating art and producing a finished product that we can be proud of,” said Eldridge.

I have a strong competitive spirit and sometimes that needs to be calmed,” he added. “I do that by reading, songwriting and through my music. For me, it’s the yin and yang of life. It works well together.”

Throughout his life, Eldridge weaved sports and music together successfully. A Vermont native, he started skiing at age 5. He began playing soccer at 7 and evolved into an All-American while excelling on the Johnson State College team that competed in the national championships. While earning his masters degree in education, Eldridge helped coach the James Madison University men’s soccer team.

At that Harrisonburg, Va., school, he met his wife, Kim. When she took the lacrosse coaching gig at Duquesne University, the Eldridge family moved to Pittsburgh, where Rob took the assistant coaching job with the Dukes men’s soccer squad in 1996.

In addition, he joined the Beadling Soccer Club as a head coach, directing teams to multiple state championships and one regional title. Between 2002-07, he served as Peters Township head coach, guiding the Indians to three section banners, one WPIAL championship and two district runner-up titles.

Since 2007, he has been at South Fayette, claiming several COTY laurels in consistently guiding the Lions to the district and state playoffs. The Lions won a WPIAL title in 2015.

Music has been with Eldridge every step of the way. Raised in a “classical formal tradition” as maternal grandparents, Elizabeth and Herbet Kenyon, were a concert pianist and opera singer, respectively, Eldridge taught himself how to play various instruments, including piano, bass and electric guitar, which he plays on stage. “Never took formal lessons,” he said.

Eldridge said he started playing because he had written songs – he has more than 100 published pieces – so he decided to learn the instruments to “be in a position to write better what I wanted to sing.”

While his mother, Roxy, is a classical vocalist, his father, Bob, introduced him to the sound he prefers and performs.

“He exposed me to all the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s music,” Eldridge said. “I caught the rock ’n’ roll bug from him. He’s an artist, painter and illustrator. He designed the cover for the release.”

“Toro Toro” features six songs written by Eldridge. The CD was recorded by Mike Ofca from Innovation Studio in Steubenville and Eldridge at his in-home studio, dubbed Sonic Planet Studios.

Eldridge is the lead vocalist. He plays guitar, keys and banjo. His next-door-neighbor, Sam Baldigowski, excels on the mandolin and lap steel. Ron Castelluci (percussion and noise makers), Jerry Courtney (bass guitar and backing vocals), Eric Drake (lead guitar and back vocals) and Bruce Virtue (drums) complete the band, which Eldridge started three years ago in Pittsburgh.

“We’ve had a couple of different lineups but it’s mostly made up of professionals and buddies, all accomplished musicians. I know they were auditioning me as much as I was auditioning them,” Eldridge said of the players, most of whom hail from Weirton, W.Va.

Featuring a blend of genres, Eldridge described the CD as rock ’n’ roll with blues elements. The six-piece ensemble delivers the swagger of bands from days gone by while echoing its own influences. If it has a sound similar to British blues and the Rolling Stones, there is good reason: Mick Jagger and the boys are Eldridge’s favorite.

“I only wish I could perform like Mick,” he laughed. “Usually I have a guitar around my shoulder, so I am unable to move around the way he does.”

During his youth, Eldridge moved around a bit. He started with The Warehouse Band playing music from a range of bands like the Hollies, Stones, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Led Zeppelin, The Cult and Tom Petty. He moved on to the Voodoo Dolls, which included one member that currently plays bass for the “Jersey Boys” production in Las Vegas. The Voodoo Dolls covered more redent bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Jane’s Addiction and supported national acts like Gov’t Mule, the Jayhawks, Blue Rodeo and Edgar Winter. One of his biggest groups was the Spring Heeled Jacks.

Eldridge’s experiences have included encounters with Mick Taylor, who replaced founder Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones after he mysteriously drowned, along with Bob Dylan, Frankie Vallie and Gov’t Mule frontman Warren Haynes, who also played with the Allman Brothers and Phil Lesh and Friends.

“I met a lot of awesome musicians,” said Eldridge, “and it’s been wonderful but not my real desire.”

As he aged, Eldridge said his goals changed. While he has released a solo record on vinyl that can be heard on Pandora and Spotify, written background music for independent films and documentaries, and provided soundtracks for a local outdoor adventure show produced by Joe Rossi of Peters Township, Eldridge’s main focus is his family.

He is a father to three sons. His eldest, Ray, plays football. Heading into his senior season, he already has 15 Division I scholarship offers.

“He’s a self-made kid, good student, hard worker,” said Eldridge. “He did all the right things and followed Joe Rossi’s ground rules, and that had a big payoff.”

Eldridge’s two other boys – Gavin, a sophomore, and Chad, a freshman – have followed in their father’s footsteps and play soccer.

“I have been driven by raising my sons,” Eldridge said.

Through his music, he is driven to expose others to the art of writing songs and performing. Eldridge says that there are other things he wants to do but sharing is foremost on his list. While he’s excited about his CD release and calls it a “celebration and culmination” of the process, he is “pushing” for newer endeavors.

“I have an opportunity to help other artists,” he said. “You know, it only takes one song.”

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Vinyl Release Update

I appreciate everybody’s patience during this learning experience for me.  I never realized the timeline/length of the vinyl process.  I am happy to say the record should be delivered to me by the end of September. Which means it will be in your hands a week or two later.  Mid October would be a conservative delivery date for all the Kickstarter contributors.

LP Back

LP Back

Matt Edwards, at United Record Pressing, Nashville TN has been my contact person.  Really nice guy who has been updating me whenever any news drops.

There also will be download card in every record pressed.  The download will be through Bandcamp.

RFOG.fifteen.itunes

Download – Room Full Of Gardens

Rob Eldridge, known for his band Steelesque, departs a bit from his classic-rock roots to present Rooms Full of Gardens. One might guess that in preparation for this solo effort, Eldridge has been listening to more Wilco and The Kinks than The Rolling Stones. The vocals are soft, the lyrics introspective and poetic, and while the percussion is primarily of the machine variety, it adds an edgy element rather than cheapening the experience. Definitely worth a spin or two.

— Seth Pfannenschmidt – Pittsburgh City Paper

Rob Eldridge a Burlington, Vermont Singer/Songwriter now based in Pittsburgh PA has a name around the block having supporting the following National Acts: The Jayhawks, Big Country, Government Mule, Warren Haynes, members of Phish, Blue Rodeo, Edgar Winter, Aimee Mann, Tea Leaf Green, Tumbleweed Wanderers, Big Wreck, Uncle Green, Raging Slab, Animal Bag, God Street Wine, Moonboot Lover.

After garnering accolades with his rock and roll outfit Steelesque. He decided to hole up with Producer Steven Foxbury in Yellow Couch Studio and write a batch of tunes that drew the attention of Grammy Award Winning – Mastering Engineer Rueben Cohen- Lurssen Mastering, Hollywood CA. Cohen added his dustings to the EP and Rooms Full Of Gardens was conceived. The EP can best be described as flowing 6 song acoustic atmospheric tornado that swirls with vocal harmonies reminiscent of late Beck records and the acoustic songwriting charm of a Josh Rouse offering.  Eldridge plays a 1965 pawn shop piece Stella in the open E tuning throughout. With no songs barely going past 3 minutes all the little nuggets abound like low lying fruit for starving music aficionados.

 

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