Rob Witherspoon

"...heartfelt songs of faded love, middle-aged blues and the perils of big box stores, performed with a beautiful blend of bluegrass, country and acoustic rock"
- Marshall Ward, Waterloo Chronicle

 

Starting from his early days as a bluegrass musician, Rob has built a deep catalogue of popular and lesser known music supplemented by original songs like Minivan Man, Waterbed and Brushfire. Musical influences include Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Fred Eaglesmith, John Prine, The Eagles, The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo.

In addition to music, Rob is a comedic improviser, writer and speaker. His engaging live show includes a mix of music, comedy, improvisation and his latest innovation Karaoke Live! giving audience members a chance to sing on stage. His alter ego Willy Witherspoon, the singing stock car driver from north South Carolina, often appears as part of his live shows and podcast episodes.

Join Rob on his creative journey by subscribing to his podcast/blog The Rob Log.

Gear

Guitar 

Primary guitar is a 1999 Martin HD-28VR a vintage reissue of the classic bluegrass guitar. It is strung with D'Addario phosphor bronze medium gauge strings and has a Baggs I-Beam pickup installed under the bridge. 

Harmonicas 

A mix of harmonicas in various keys that reflect the evolution of his preferences in harps. The oldest is a Hohner Pro Harp. For the longest time his harmonica of choice was the Lee Oskar manufactured by Tombo but in the last few years he started to notice that they would blow out much more quickly. More recently he has been using the Japanese made Suzuki Pro Master which have a great sound and excellent durability. 

Spoons

Rob's current go-to spoons are the Newfoundland-made Dory Dan spoons. He also plays a set of wooden spoons hand carved in St-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec.

Pedal Board 

Rob fully embraces the creative soundscape afforded by modern signal processing technology. His vocal microphone and guitar pickup signal are processed by the Canadian designed TC Helicon Voicelive 3. It is like a third instrument allowing him to alter and add harmonies to voice, add various effects to guitar (delay, reverb, compression, etc.) as well as record and play loops.

Also at his feet is a Beatbuddy drum pedal. It can be programmed to play custom drum sounds to accompany songs with a foot tap to start, add fills and endings. It utilizes digital recordings of real drum sets and provides a myriad of creative opportunities to build unique and engaging sounds. 

The two pedals are connected by a Yamaha MD-BT01 bluetooth midi cable allowing wireless control the two pedals from his iPad. Set lists are created on the iPad using an app called OnSong. Midi commands are coded into each song to load specific sounding presets on the Voicelive 3 and drum pattern on the Beatbuddy. When a song is opened on the iPad it automatically selects the appropriate settings on the two pedals. 

Rob also incorporates simple guitar, harmonica and voice songs in his live shows and recordings but the range of sounds and effects he has at his feet allows him to greatly expand the creativity and sound of  live performances. If you have any questions about his setup, please contact Rob.

Performing with former Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart and the Strumbellas bassist Darryl James at the Steamwhistle Roundhouse in Toronto

Performing with former Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart and the Strumbellas bassist Darryl James at the Steamwhistle Roundhouse in Toronto

Cousin Willy from north South Carolina

Cousin Willy from north South Carolina

Rob and his faithful Martin HD-28VR

Rob and his faithful Martin HD-28VR

Performing improv

Performing improv