When it comes to any creative medium, the artist never wants to put themselves into a box. No one likes to be pigeonholed into a certain category while striving for originality.
By fusing a country twang with the emphasis of rock and the complexities of jazz, Cumberland musician Rob Ballou avoids classification while maintaining his unique musical identity.
He’ll be performing acoustic tunes of his own along with some covers at Ted’s Stadium Pub on Park Avenue in Cranston on July 13.
We had a talk ahead of the show about embracing different styles of music, playing both acoustic and electric guitar and a new album he’s putting out.
With this mix of styles, who do you consider to be your main musical inspirations?
I can’t shake the country vibe because of my deep baritone voice, so I’ve learned to embrace it. Truth be told, I don’t listen to country music very often. I mostly listen to classic rock, hard rock and blues. I can get into anything that has a good melody, whether it’s pop, jazz, alternative and even some hip-hop. As far as inspiration goes, I don’t really try to emulate anyone. I can be equally inspired by a local singer-songwriter or by a mega-band like the Rolling Stones.
Do you consider yourself to be a musician who doesn’t like being grounded to one style?
Yes, I like mixing jazz with blues and rock. I originally took up the guitar with the intention of being a lead guitarist. While I was learning music theory, I got into jazz and started to apply some of that in the structure of my songs. I try to take a different approach to each song and I really want the songs to be unique and stand on their own, not so much fit into a genre or style.
You play both acoustic and electric guitar. Do you have a preference between the different sounds each one brings? Is there a different vibe you find between acoustic and electric?
I like both. I have basically found that I can make good music with either. Every guitar has different tonal properties. That’s the guitar’s voice, and if you adjust your playing style a bit you can play any song you like with the particular guitar that’s in your hand.
On Aug. 8, you’re putting out a new album. What’s the name of it, and is there a different approach you had while making it versus “Stay,” which you put out last year?
The new album is called “Moving On.” My approach has been the same for all three albums – I take it one song at a time. The new album has a few more hard rock tracks than the others. I attribute that to my time spent playing in the grunge punk band Cosmic Winter. As I said earlier, I am inspired by many different musical styles.
Other than the new album you’re putting out, what else do you have planned for the rest of the year?
The album release show is scheduled for Aug. 8 at Dusk in Providence. I will have some great musicians playing with me for the show and I am grateful for their support. You can also catch me playing lead guitar with The Corinne Southern Band on July 19 at Richmond Smoke down in South County.