Medicine Hat News

Robert Larrabee takes his songwriting to a new level

Hatter Robert Larrabee had the chance to work with renowned songwriter Jess Cates and will soon be releasing an album of songs from those sessions.

Local musician Robert Larrabee calls the opportunity to write songs alongside the renowned Jess Cates “amazing and inspiring.”

Larrabee has spent the better part of the last 30 years singing the favourites we’ve all come to love, a self professed imitator, but in an effort to become more appealing to even more people he found himself writing with multi-platinum songwriter Jess Cates recorded by artists such as Jordin Sparks, the Backstreet Boys, LeAnn Rimes, Taylor Hicks, former boy bander Nick Lachey and many more.

“I wrote an album by myself in 2010 but realized very quickly there is a lot more to songwriting that I had thought, ” says Larrabee. “I had been singing old songs for so long it sounded very dated. I called my producer in Nashville who recommended Chad Cates, who recommended his brother Jess.”

Larrabee, who has called the Gas City home for the past eight years, says he was shocked to be given the opportunity to work with such a “gifted artist.” Wanting to write songs with a “Top 40 edge” Larrabee and Cates managed to scratch enough time together to complete the album he’s just released on iTunes.

“A guy like me doesn’t get to meet, let alone work with, a guy like that very often so it was definitely a thrill,” Larrabee says. “It took the whole year to get together over skype often enough to write seven songs I was so fortunate.”

The pair started with 100 or so working titles and Larrabee says their creative juices started to flow. He admits the songs the two wrote were born from those titles that immediately inspired both the musician and the entertainer.

“Jess is a musician and a songwriter so he understands melody and where the chords need to be,” he says. “We brainstormed together on the words to find the hook in the song. Working with him brought my creativity to a whole new level I learned so much about songwriting itself.”

Larrabee’s new album hasn’t been released yet, however eight of the 10 tracks are on iTunes and YouTube where they wait for locals and Larrabee’s fans to discover.

“They are all a lot of fun,” he says. “One is a country cross-over song. It goes Who cares if I don’t look like Hollywood. I got my own thing and it sure feels good. It ain’t what you see but what you’ve got revving under your hood.”

Larrabee says songs like “Middle of Something” and “It’s A Guy Thing” truly connect with Canadians, especially the average Joe or Jane.

“They aren’t about having all the right things and looking a specific way but about individuality.”



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After spending his childhood in Invermere, musician

Robert Larrabee traveled through Western Canada for

years before he found his calling. With his new album,

Middle of Something, the country artist is starting to garner

exposure on the airwaves.

The title track is currently being broadcast on four commercial

radio stations throughout the country.

"I played sax in Grade 8 band class at David Thompson

Secondary," he told The Echo. "That was pretty much

my first introduction into reading and playing music. It

wasn't my forte by any means. I always wanted to sing —

that was my dream.”

Mr. Larrabee got involved in music again at age 21, after

impressing his girlfriends' family on their karaoke

machine. Shortly after, he began sitting in as a daytime

singer for bands at hotels.

It was winning a lengthy contest at one of the hotels that

earned Mr. Larrabee local recognition in the valley. And

when it was learned that he could act as well as sing, Mr.

Larrabee began performing with An Evening with the

Legends, where he toured and performed in costume the

works of 25 different renowned musicians.

One of those legends, Garth Brooks, inspired Mr. Larrabee

to be where he is today.

"I really like young Garth Brooks,” he said. “That's the

kind of show I want to put together. I don't want it to just

be a guy standing there in a cowboy hat; I want energy.

That's what I like about young Garth Brooks; he would

smash guitars like The Who — now that's a show."

While he enjoyed covering legendary musicians, Mr. Larrabee had always aspired to perform as an original songwriter.

As he was coasting through his career as a cover artist, his ailing son sent an important reminder.

Years before passing away of cancer at age 16, his son

Matthew said, "Dad, you gave up on your dream."

There was no denial from Mr. Larrabee.

"He was so right, and I knew in my heart that he was

right," he said. "I was going for it before he passed away

and he was really, really proud of that."

And after testing the waters with a few different styles,

Mr. Larrabee found his calling with a new-country sound.

"It feels like doors are starting to open," he said.

Middle of Something was produced in country music's

home of Nashville, Tennessee. He teamed with

Nashville songwriter Jess Cates, whose work can be

heard through the music of the Backstreet Boys, Jordan

Sparks and the Jonas Brothers. The new album was reviewed

by California music critic Dan MacIntosh, who

wrote: "Larrabee sounds like a true country singer. He’s

not trying to give lip service to the genre; he’s the real

deal. It’s refreshing to hear a recording that doesn’t try

to pump up the volume just to get the attention of young

rock fans who honestly don’t know the difference between

country music and amped up rock. That makes

Larrabee Country real country."

Mr. Larrabee has been back to the valley a handful of

times since becoming a professional musician, but not

as an original artist. He's currently promoting his new album,

and although he doesn't have any shows booked in

the valley, he's eager to change that.

Invermere-raised musician

finds country calling

Country artist in ‘Middle of Something’ with new album



Alberta singer-songwriter Robert Larrabee is in the

middle of something these days — marketing his new

country album.

Middle of Something is a new effort from Larrabee,

who joined forces with veteran Nashville songwriter

Jess Cates to write seven of the 10 songs on the


Middle of Something has had strong reviews and

the title track is getting airplay on Canadian radio

stations, much to the delight of Larrabee, who has

fashioned a career covering songs by established artists.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Larrabee said.

Larrabee knew he liked Middle of Something,

but he wanted to know what industry professionals

thought of the album.

Larrabee sent Middle of Something to professional

music reviewer Dan MacIntosh, who awarded the

album 3 1/2 out of fi ve stars.

“That was scary,” Larrabee said of seeking a review

from a professional whose work has appeared in

Rolling Stone and other music publications. “You lay

it all out on the line.”

Larrabee needn’t have worried.

“If he gets the right promotion, and one of these

songs catches the ear of country radio folks, Robert

Larrabee could really go places,” MacIntosh wrote.

“Of course, sounding like what’s popular now may

get his foot in the door, but it will take more than

familiarity for Larrabee to truly stand out. With that

said, though, he is certainly an artist to keep an eye

on. Let’s hope he’s matched with people that know

how to groom country performers for commercial

success because this is one performer with the tools

to go far.”

“Best of all, perhaps, is how Larrabee sounds like

a true country singer,” MacIntosh added. “He’s not

trying to give lip service to the genre; he’s the real

deal. With country’s trend of southern rockers masquerading

as country artists, it’s refreshing to hear a

recording that doesn’t try to pump up the volume just

to get the attention of young rock fans that honestly

don’t know the difference between country music

and amped up rock. That makes Middle of Something

something not to be missed.”

That was good news for Larrabee, whose 2010

album was missed by almost everyone.

“I wrote every song myself, and it didn’t go anywhere,”

Larrabee said.

Larrabee called his producer in Nashville, Dave

Bechtel, and said he wanted to write with a professional


Bechtel put him in touch with Chad Cates, who is

well-known as a Christian songwriter. The two wrote

three songs via Skype that are on Middle of Something.

Larrabee didn’t want an album solely of Christian


He wanted songs that would appeal to country

music stations.

Cates put Larrabee in touch with his brother Jess,

who writes current country songs. The two collaborated

for a year to create seven more songs for the


Larrabee and Jess would spend two hours together

at a time via Skype.

“I got a lot of input,” Larrabee said, who appreciated

the voice of experience that Jess provided. “He’s

kind of like the head foreman on the job. He understands

how to build the structure.”

Larrabee hired a professional to promote Middle of

Something to radio stations across Canada. The early

returns are encouraging, with six stations playing the

title track from the album.

“It’s really got some legs under it,” Larrabee said.

The 49-year-old Larrabee started his career singing

in Saturday afternoon jams in an Edmonton bar and

was soon approached by a talent agency to front a

band that toured Canada.

Larrabee was eventually hired as an actor in Celebrations

Dinner Theater and performed in tribute

shows before creating his one-man act titled “An

Evening With the Legends” that brought him recently

to Fort Macleod.

Larrabee knew he didn’t want to cover the work

of artists such as Elvis Presley and Conway Twitty

forever, which led him to writing his own, and soon

he was in the Middle of Something.

“In order to get it on the radio it’s got to sound

current,” said Larrabee, who is bankrolling the album

himself. “I knew those songs had to stack up well

against the current artists that are on the radio —

and they are.”

Visit to listen to samples

and see the video from Middle of Something, or to

buy the album. Middle of Something is also available

on iTunes.

“I’m hoping we’ll be able to brand me with it in

enough markets and get enough interest I’ll be able to

come back and perform again with my own music.”

Media Articles


Tribute artist brings country legends to FSJ

By staff1 on October 16, 2013

Along with the wine tasting and hors d’oeuvre the entertainment for the Association’s annual fundraiser, Of The Vine, always gets people on their feet and this year shouldn’t be much different.

Entertainer Robert Larrabee is set to perform at Of The Vine on Oct. 19. Larrabee is a tribute artist, covering the likes of George Jones, Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam.

“I’ll do 20 different legends of rock and roll and country,” said Larrabee over the phone from Medicine Hat.

He’s been entertaining crowds with a variety of voices from country and mainstream artists for more than two decades, but he’s slowly heading into a new direction, which he plans to share in Fort St. John.

“I’ll do some of my own music, that’s what I’m segueing into doing full time,” he said. He’s currently promoting his single, Guy Thing, off his album Middle of Something.

Going out on his own, and slowly shedding off the costumes of other artists, is not an easy venture. “It’s hard, doing your own original music in Canada. Radio stations don’t want to play you unless you’re on a big international label—it’s the hardest business you can go into. I kind of live by the golden rule to be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you.”

Larrabee went down to Nashville to record his latest album, and was able to collaborate with songwriter Jess Cates, who has written for LeAnn Rimes, Jordin Sparks and Nick Lachey from 98 Degrees; he also had Chris Rodriguez, Keith Urban’s guitarist, play on his record.

“The pool of people you can get on your album from Nashville is incredible,” he said.

New country, country rock and “the stuff you would hear on the radio,” is how he describes his sound. He has been on radio tours with his latest album, and hopes to tour worldwide despite the obstacles of being an independent artist.

“The music business is tougher than it’s ever been, nowadays they don’t take chances on people as much they used to,” he said on trying to land a label—which he hopes to do in the next three years.

Breaking into his own genre was a move he made inspired by his late son, Matthew.

“My little boy passed away when he was 16,” Larrabee explained. He relapsed with cancer three times. This year he would have been 21.

“Matthew said before he passed, ‘Don’t give up on your dream’ … he knew I didn’t want to be Elvis or George Jones,” said a somber Larrabee. “When he passed, I knew I had to go for this.”

This won’t be Larrabee’s first time in Fort St. John. He performed once at the Pomeroy Hotel.

“The last time I performed there the people in Fort St. John were incredible, they loved the comedy and the show and I just want to invite them all back—they were great people up there.”