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-
“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-
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.”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
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-
"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.
finds country calling
Country artist in ‘Middle of Something’ with new album
THE MACLEOD GAZETTE
middle of something these days — marketing his new
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 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
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
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.
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-
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 www.robertlarrabee.org to listen to samples
and see the video from Middle of Something, or to
buy the album. Middle of Something is also available
“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.”
Tribute artist brings country legends to FSJ
By 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.”