Hidden in the shadows of Las Vegas there is a core group of musicians, which keep this town running smoothly. For most shows the musicians are hidden away like a pearl in an oyster. It is only when the lights hit that pearl that you can truly appreciate the beauty of it.
Vegas Kool’s Dan Newburn had the opportunity to catch up and speak with one of these treasured gems of Las Vegas. From flute to saxophone, Rob Stone is a master at his craft.
A woman and a man have a chance encounter while playing in a college band. The woman, a singer who played the guitar and piano, the man a drummer who sang as well met and fell in love. Though this story isn’t about them it is about their son.
Shortly after being born in Cincinnati, Ohio Rob and his parents moved to Lebanon Ohio. With musicians for parents, music was flowing through Rob’s blood. Rob took interest in music much earlier than most, he began to learn how to play the Alto Saxophone at around 8 years old. Starting off playing an instrument at that age is a challenge, but learning how to play a complicated instrument such as the saxophone in third grade is impressive to say the least.
By high school Rob was really getting into the swing of things. He had joined a high school jazz band and was playing grand openings and other events all around town. It wasn’t till his sophomore year in high school that he decided to take playing the saxophone to a whole different level. With the right instructor, he was playing professional gigs while still in high school.
Eric Zadan was that teacher. Mr. Zadan had played for Mel Torme, Henry Mancini, Mark O’Connor, Tommy Tune and even bands like the Moody Blues. He rounded out his musical talents by also playing for some impressive Broadway shows like Evita, A Chorus Line, South Pacific and even West Side Story.
Eric Zadan was key in helping Rob focus his musical talents and push him to get a college scholarship by way of music. Rob had some very interesting college prospects from Massachusetts to Texas, but it was the chance of learning under Jazz and Big Band legend Don Menza that brought him to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Rob Stones musical talent earned him a full ride scholarship to UNLV.
Twenty-one years later, Rob and his music are still going strong in Las Vegas. From playing pickup gigs in some of Las Vegas’ hottest shows to jamming out in a new project consisting of ten to twelve members called the Rockie Brown Band, Rob has managed to make a living at what he loves. Rob explained that he has even been playing in a fusion group, which mixes the sounds of Rob’s Sax with a bass player and a DJ for corporate events.
Another interesting gig Rob has been doing in Las Vegas as of lately is performing in nightclubs alongside a DJ. Though it might seem like a new thing. In the early 90’s it was very popular for techno DJs to travel with a musician to spice up their performances and give the crowd something more than just a person behind the turntables. Being that Las Vegas is one of the top 10 nightclub destinations in the world, it is a good sign for the resurgence of this type of high-energy performance.
A professional is defined as a person engaged or qualified in a profession. Rob is amazingly qualified! Rob has to remember what every gig requires. Some gigs require him to stay consistent and play the music the same way each and every night. While other gigs require him to mix up and play differently every night. By the amount of people that have booked Rob for shows there is no doubt that he is at the top of the food chain at what he does.
You can catch Rob Stone showing off his skills in Las Vegas playing at VEGAS! The Show at the Saxe Theater in Planet Hollywood, the Rockie Brown Band or a new project called The Groove Culture with Santana’s drummer Pepe Jimenez. Rob Stone’s ability to play the sax, flute, EWI (a digital sax) and even the guitar has taken him all over the world. He has played with a “who’s who” of soul, Motown and pop music artists from Sheena Easton, Chaka Khan, The Four Tops, the Temptations, Michael Grimm, and even Frankie Avalon.
Some of Mr. Stone’s more notable performances have been behind closed doors. He played with Robert Goulet for former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher for her birthday. He also performed not once, but twice for another saxophone player, President Bill Clinton.
“Life is what happens while you are making plans.” Rob had mentioned to Dan Newburn during the interview. Life seems to be going great for Mr. Stone. He is getting married in August of 2014. Rob is working hard on finishing up an Album with The Rockie Brown Band. Who knows what the future might hold for Rob Stone? Perhaps, Rob will be on a world tour with the new band.
Rob Stone said, “I can’t imagine life without music!” We at Vegas Kool couldn’t agree more.