Robbie Dacosta talks about music with the fiery intensity of a 5-year-old frantically unwrapping his favorite new toy on Christmas morning.
Sitting outside a coffeehouse, cigarette in hand and ever-present black fedora perched askew on top of his head, his eyes grow wide and his gestures become increasingly animated as he delves into his musical past.
â€œI broke all my dadâ€™s guitars,â€ he says before he takes a sip of his coffee.Â â€œSo, my dad and I would practice in a music store, and someone from Maxyâ€™s (in Medford) heard us and offered us a gig.â€
And so, at age 16, Dacosta started playing shows with his father and within a year they were touring and opening for acts like Jerry Lee Lewis. After a couple years of touring, Dacosta took a 3-year break and then began playing again with the Royal Blues Band here in the valley.
â€œI knew Tom (Stamper, his current drummer) and he got me into the Royal Blues Band,â€ he says before lighting another smoke.Â â€œI love that guy, and heâ€™s extremely talented.â€
Stamper has been playing regular shows at Alexâ€™s Restaurant and Bar in Ashland with the Royal Blues Band for six years, and Dacosta has been part of the act ever since. Then, around two years ago, the Robbie Dacosta Band took over the weekly spot and Dacosta became a front man.
â€œI want to keep it fresh every time,â€ Dacosta says.Â Considering he knows somewhere between 3500-4000 songs, this may not seem to be a problem, but he disagrees.
â€œI have to refresh myself constantly,â€ he says.Â He takes a drag, sets down his coffee and tilts his head upward to look into the sun.Â â€œIt is challenging, and thatâ€™s what I love about it.â€
Whatever passion Dacosta has when talking about music is increased tenfold during his live performances.Â Watching the trio, consisting of Dacosta on guitar and vocals, Stamper on drums and Jeff Addicott on bass, is like being strapped to an accelerating freight train.Â The shows tend to start of casually enough (though with plenty of energy) and gain momentum as the night continues.
During the performance last Monday the band opened with Marvin Gaye, moved into Elvis, and continued into a crowd-pleasing cover of Chris Issacâ€™s â€œWicked Game.â€Â Dacostaâ€™s vocal range is truly amazing.Â He can move from the low, growly tones of Johnny Cash into a falsetto with flawless precision, all the while keeping a svelte smoothness to his voice.
The performances happen weekly on Mondayâ€™s at Alexâ€™s but have a consistent frenetic energy to them.
â€œI never know what Iâ€™m going to do before I play,â€ Dacosta says.Â Johnny Cash, the Stray Cats and the Beatles will share a non-existent set-list with ease.Â Dancing is technically optional, but be warned: even those who rarely dance have a hard time not getting on the dance floor to shake it with the rest of the crowd.
A fan who is a good friend of Dacostaâ€™s described him as â€œa hybrid of Harpo Marx and Elvis.â€Â The description is certainly apt.Â Dacosta has a good sense of humor and timeliness as well as the charisma and voice of Elvis, all of which contribute to his strong stage presence.Â He does well keeping the crowd excited, upbeat and involved in the music.
Dacostaâ€™s weekly show at Alexâ€™s is on Monday, begins at 8:30 and is free.Â He also plays every Friday at The Avalon in Talent.