Overfield may get his big ‘Break’

Expect sellout for debut of Durangoan’s new EP

Southpaw guitarist Robby Overfield played earlier this month at Derailed Saloon. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Southpaw guitarist Robby Overfield played earlier this month at Derailed Saloon.

To many of us, 27 is still young. In the music business, it might feel like something closer to middle age (with apologies to Janis and Mssrs. Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Jim Morrison, etc., etc.).

For Robby Overfield, it’s the perfect age to take his music career to the proverbial next level.

“It’s called ‘The Breaks’ because that’s what I’ve been trying to catch my whole life,” Overfield said of his new EP, which he’ll debut Saturday night at the Henry Strater Theatre. “I’m also luckier than anyone I’ve ever known, because I can sing and I’d probably be half the person I am if I didn’t have that ability.”

The Detroit-area native has lived here for about six years and has immersed himself in the community in many ways. He’s become one of the busiest and most booked performers at local venues and also is active in a host of sports. His day job as sports director for the Stillwater Foundation is a position that allows him to mentor kids in both of his own passions. Stillwateris a Durango-based nonprofit that teaches people music and sports. He’ll donate a portion of ticket sales from Saturday show as well as CD sales to the foundation.

“It’s kind of a perfect job if you have to have a job,” he said.

But if “The Breaks” finds its way into the right hands – or ears – day jobs may soon be a thing of the past for Overfield. Durango is a town full of musicians with above-average talent, but Overfield has one instrument that none of his peers can match – a serious set of pipes. It’s one of the great intangibles of music, and there’s no substitute for a powerful and unique voice.It sets Overfield apart from the field. It’s at a lower register than most rock and blues singers but doesn’t quite dip into the baritone/bass range.

“I noticed at an early age that I can sing, and I’ve always thought of the voice as an instrument. That’s how I convey my music,” Overfield said.

All vocals on all six tracks of “The Breaks” are Overfield, expertly layered by Scott Smith at his Scooter’s Place studios. He had a lot of help on the record outside of Smith’s technical wizardry. In addition to Overfield’s guitar, Zack Jones played saxophone, Oregonian Ben Scharf provided the keyboards, and Mary Elizabeth Holby came from Quebec to play violin on “Northbound Gospel Train.”

“Each guest was on a track for a specific reason,” Overfield said.

For his core group, which often performs as the Robby Overfield Trio, he is joined by Neil Hemphill on drums and Jesse Ogle on bass.(Dave Rodriguez was the in-studio drummer for “The Breaks.”) In Ogle, with whom he also works at Stillwater, Overfield found his creative complement as well as one of his closest friends.

“And Jesse’s the best bass player I’ve ever met,” he said.

Overfield and his band have been branching out and receiving good press coverage in competitive music towns like Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Flagstaff, Ariz. “The Breaks” is the band’s first opportunity to spread the word further. It’s a high-quality sample that combines quality musicianship with personal and genuine songwriting in a professional package.

“It gives people a taste of what’s to come down the road,” he said. “I look at my life and this town as an opportunity, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. A lot of people are afraid of the future but I embrace it.”

ted@durangoherald.com