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.”

Read full article here

The Magpie And The Muse

New song by Rob Eldridge

Price Of Your Toll- RIE  7.9.14

words and music by Rob Eldridge

dont even know whats right or what’s real

if you add all the years you start seeing cracks in the seal

but the look in your eyes- don’t say wrong

so you do your sidestep- and walk along

ya got your shield up like tough boards on a barn

walking through life leaving hearts ragged and torn

maybe one day you’ll take a look behind

and keep tough in your pocket and dole out a little kind

 

yea the price of your toll this time cost you one (2xs)

 

one step in your woods felt like ten

got called home for dinner not knowing when

I got sore legs climbing north to south

i thought i finished up strong but you put cotton in my mouth

ya got your shield up like tough boards on a barn

hiding your nest with a magpie spinning yarn

maybe one day you’ll take a look behind

and keep me in your pocket and call it one of a kind

 

yea the price of your toll this time cost you one (2xs)

Pittsburgh City Paper Weighs In On “Rooms Full Of Gardens”

See review from Pittsburgh City below.

PCP

“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

“Rooms Full Of Gardens” EP Review From Pittsburgh Music Magazine

A special thank you goes out to PMM’s CEO Alan Welding. See PMM’s review below.

PMM

Rob Eldridge may be a transplant from Vermont to the Pittsburgh area, but he has the roots of rock n’ roll that translate so universally to this area and beyond.  His influences clearly lie rooted in classic and folk rock, but they extend outward into modern thoroughfare quite effortlessly.  Eldridge has been pumping out creative work like a prolific Stephen King, but with mad blues guitar skills.  His full band Steelesque has been making a heavy mark on the music circuit in Pittsburgh lately, but his experience reaches back to The Springheeled Jacks who tore it up in the Northeast.

Eldridge takes his talent for a spin on his own this time with an EP entitled “Rooms Full Of Gardens”.  Aptly titled since there are so many varieties for the senses to sample on this mellow mix of trippy tunes that drip like syrup and pulse with the purpose of 4/20.  Beginning with “Reign of Reign”, it is clear that Eldridge spent considerable time working on the blend of instrumentation and the significance of the lyrics, “the advice from me is arrowed to you-the tension of bow the sky so blue-some days so different-the weeks the same-pulled all together-by the reign of rain”.  Following up with “Life’s Commercials”, Eldridge shows a different side of his work by juxtaposing the folk-blues with a drum tracking that is purposefully ‘machinist’. The double tracking of vocals and throwback chorus atmosphere is an excellent commentary on the modern world, “frequencies and dials and transistors radios- government satellites and corporate videos I have no TV set at all cos I make call yea I make the call”. The third track, “Reverse The Sun”, takes these elements much further and is a stellar track reminiscent of Brad (Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam’s side band).  The tempo, phrasing, and wording come together with a destined combination giving textures of afternoons on vacation, stoned couch philosophy, and chilling with your favorite adult beverage.  Eldridge spins the yarn again, “got life behind us- got living ahead- but what’s within us- we’ll take to our beds- you seem so lost- so what’s the rush- may be the only way – that we’ll find us- no need for power- when it’s paired with fear- guess that’s just the way that it’s flowing- you know some trails are best made- on our cheeks by our tears,” giving us insight and relation to our own personal lives, touching us where it matters most: mentally and emotionally.  The tale of a woman falling in love with a man with multiple personalities fleshes out the structure of “A Man With Three Names”, “I found out – that I love you three times— it’s gotta mean something right?”  There’s a bit of humor and compassion that throws hints to psychedelic undertones and Doors/Manzarek-like playfulness to accent with a tongue in cheek attitude.  It’s this type of wistfulness that is a pleasant surprise to Eldridge’s lyrical work here as it works with the music back and forth like a sumptuous food and wine pairing rather than just an icing on a cake.  ”Feed The Wolf” follows up with one of the most upbeat tracks with hints of Elliot Smith and Nick Drake influences, intended or not.  The vocal layering that ensues produces a solid song that has a great drum track that guides the listeners ears to subtle lines like, “I’m considered rich with my wants being cheap,” providing some chew-able chunks to ponder.  The closer of the EP, “White Off Rice” has the raconteur in Eldridge tell us of a miner and his pocket full of gold, “no urge to discern life’s tempting spice- but a knock at the door can scare the white- right off rice”.  Here Eldridge culminates in a down on the bog rock tune with cryptic lyrical content rich with double entendre abounding over a juicy rhythm and sparse guitar that accentuates like a well placed spice.

Clearly this has been a passion project for Eldridge that he poured his heart, soul, and mind fully into so that the disc spilleth over with his recognizable signature styling.  While his full band Steelesque offers more of a Stones/Faces ripping blues rawness, his solo piece is a more refined showing of an artist who knows when to put the shine on and when to let the frays lay open.  ”Rooms Full Of Gardens” scores highest honors for being an honest yet refined sample of his work in various vignettes of style. The EP plays like a storybook of life’s wanderings, the people we encounter along the way, and the affect it has upon the soul.  With each effort Eldridge gets more interesting as he opens up his Pandora’s box of ideas and tales.  Hopefully his restless spirit will keep spitting out gems like this as often as possible.


Read more here – PMM

From The Studio To The Stage

The process of transforming studio recorded songs to the live setting is very expressive.  Part of you wants to replicate the songs in rehearsal and on stage, and the other part of you wants to let the song take form and breathe.  I think the key is that the listener should identify with both versions of the song: live and recorded.  The Room Full Of Gardens EP was written in my studio track by track.  The stems were taken to Yellow Couch Studio and completed.  So these songs actually have never been played by a band or group of players.  Interesting how different the recipe can be when writing songs.  Occasionally, songs are crafted in a live rehearsal environment and sometimes they take shape over the course of years.  The most important aspect is completion.  Ideas To Art is the concept of taking an idea and making it art. I try not to leave ideas hanging around.  I want to go through the A to Z process and finish a song so people can hear it and evoke emotion. Sometimes photographers take hundreds of photos to get that special one.

I’ve been using my iPhone to video record ideas and it’s been a very valuable tool.  I use reference comments on the video (guitar in tuned to open E, capo placed …etc) this way I can go back and see finger placement.  This is easier than going back to an audio recording and re-learning the progression.

Last night I had great session with some great players from Pittsburgh.  I am very excited about the prospects of this group. The intangibles are in place and versatility won’t be a problem. Below are a couple shots of Bruce on keys.  He had his first rehearsal with us last night.  It was great!  photo 2photo z