Rob Babson - Lead Vocals/Guitar/Harmonica

Photo by EM Images

Rob Babson: Rob is the founder/bandleader/front-person & M.C. of the Delta Knights. He is also the band’s lead vocalist, lead guitarist and chief songwriter/arranger. Rob has been a dedicated musician since middle school, and played professionally since 1988.  Rob excels at what he loves: swing, rhythm and blues, blues and classic rock, That said, Rob never rules out anything if it’s good.


Rob's Musical Roots   

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     Rob can trace back his show business roots to elementary school, when he played the King Of Hearts in Fourth Grade in Alice In Wonderland.  Even before that, he had a plastic toy guitar, and he used to play for the chickens and turkeys his family raised.  As a musician, he has performed in New England, Tennessee and St. Croix. Rob was born in Biddeford, but raised in Standish, Maine. He started playing guitar at age 14 and took lessons from the late guitar instructor Mike Silvestri.  It was with Mike that Rob learned intricate finger-style picking, as well as an appreciation for classical guitar.  He put a band together with some high school friends, Troy Bennett and Dean Clegg.  Rob's childhood friend, Eric Driscoll thought up the name Unfinished Business and the name stuck. Initially, Rob wanted to play guitar only, but singers were always in short supply, so he quickly realized he'd get more gigs if he sang, too, so he started building his vocal repertoire, and came to enjoy singing, too.   In High School, Rob was involved in Drama and Chorus at Bonny Eagle High School, under the tutelage of the late P. Michael Bourgoin and Peg McAdam, which gave him the foundation he needed to be comfortable onstage as a performer.  Rob's extensive theater experience continues to give him a theatrical slant to his performances. 


Rob's Musical Evolution

    While in Standish, Rob continued to hone his musical chops.   At age 19, he joined his first professional gigging band, Minus 500.   Rob was singing so much that he decided to take some vocal lessons, to help refine his vocal chops and learn to sing properly.    He took guitar lessons with Gary Richardson, too, and filled in some gaps in his playing.   Around this time, Rob realized that he could earn a living as a musician, and he did so for a few years.   After playing for other bands and bandleaders, further gaining experience as a performer,  around the mid-1990s, Rob envisioned a small band that could play roots music, blues, R&B and swing, and play many different venues that bigger bands couldn't, due to spatial and budget constraints.  He gathered together two musicians he had worked with previously, and the band recorded their demo "tape" at Tree Frog Studios in Dayton, ME.  The Delta Knights Band was born. The trio immediately started gigging extensively in Maine and New Hampshire.


Rob launches The Delta Knights

     In mid-1996, Rob moved to Portland, Maine, to be closer to the vibrant music scene here - where he resides to this day with his wife Camelia, and their 2 dogs and cat.  Their son, Jeremiah, currently resides  in Salem, Oregon, and is a vocalist and actor as well.   It was in Portland that his new band started taking shape. 

     In its debut year, 1996, Rob and his then-new band, The Delta Knights, performed at local and international competitions, representing Maine in the first-ever International Blues Talent Competition in Memphis, TN.


DKB in orbit

     The band forged ahead in the coming years, branching away from blues, into more of a function-type band.  The band played functions, weddings, and more.  It was during this time that Rob came into his own as a bandleader.  During this time, legendary local drummer Larry Peterson and bass player/vocalist Sandy Pardee helped to bring the band local recognition.  Larry and Sandy stayed with the band for over 15 years.  At their gigging peak, DKB played over 120 gigs a year and the trio got very tight, as musicians and as friends. In fact, Rob still considers all his former DK alumni friends that he could call up any time to chat or even play a gig.  In  2001, DKB recorded its third demo, reflecting their ventures into more of a variety music-approach, and sounding much like they did in a live club.  In 2001, the band also launched its website, External link opens in new tab or windowwww.deltaknights.com.

    In 2009, at Rob's wife Camelia's urging, Rob asked sax player Darren Whitney to join the band full-time (see his bio below).  It was a wise move.  Now a quartet, the band had a fuller sound, and the band breathed new life.  For certain engagements, the band expanded, with a second horn, keyboards, and female vocals.  Trombonist Jeff Marsanskis wrote many horn chart arrangements for the band which the band still uses when it plays as a larger unit.   These were busy times for Rob and the band. 

     In 2010, the band appeared on WCSH's popular 207 show (You can see the video on the Videos tab).  The band performed one of Rob's original compositions, "Big Bass Drum," which the band still plays nearly every show.  Around this time, the band entered the social media realm and started a Facebook page.

     In 2011, the band recorded its fifth demo, 12 From 19 at Studio 19, engineered by Dan Merrill.  The band took special care to really nail the parts of the songs they covered.  Rob played all electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica and sang lead and backing vocals.  The tracks can be heard on the DKB website, and feature the quartet, plus Andy Chipman on keyboards.   "Big Bass Drum" is the only original track on the demo.


Rob and DKB today and beyond

     Now in its 25th year, the band continues to evolve and build its fan base. In 2012, drummer Brian Hodgman joined the band (See Brian's bio below).   After 17 years in DKB, bassist Sandy Pardee married and moved to Canada.  Justin Maxwell took over the bass chair (see Justin's bio below). While the band doesn't play over a hundred gigs per year anymore, they are still making an impact at every performance.   On August 18, 2018, the band played to over 800 attendees at Fort Allen Park!  Patsy Wiggins of External link opens in new tab or windowFriends of The Eastern Promenade filmed the band, and the clip is a good representation of how the band sounds today. It represents the current lineup of the band.  You can view the clip on the band's Videos page, or on The Delta Knights Facebook page (the band joined Facebook in 2010).    


     Around the time Justin joined and rather at his urging/nudging,  Rob changed the band's focus  back to more of a roots-music approach.  Audiences and the band have seemed to like the reboot.   Rob looks forward to recording some of the band's songs to showcase the new lineup and return to its roots in the near future.  The band also hired a sound technician, Chris "Giz" Daniels, and both fans and clients have noted the superior sound quality that change brought.           

    Finally, never to rest and stagnate,  Rob is very excited to announce that his debut album with all original compositions, is now in post-production. Once reproduced, the album will be titled 21 Frets, and will be available for sale at upcoming live performances.  Stay tuned for an announcement.

   

Other acts and pursuits

    In addition to his beloved Delta Knights, Rob is involved in musical pursuits outside the band as well.  Since 2016, he has played bass, guitar and sang for The Time Pilots.   This band plays very different music from the Delta Knights.  This band plays mostly pop favorites and classic rock, for weddings and functions, with the occasional public performance.  You can find out more by visiting External link opens in new tab or windowwww.timepilotsband.com. 

    A couple of years ago, Rob formed a blues/roots trio with guitarist/vocalist Jeff Christiansen.  They named the band The 3 Aces, and Rob is playing bass, guitar, and harmonica, and singing in this group.  All three of the musicians sing, so you will hear lots of 3-part harmonies.  You can find out where this band is playing and view a promotional video by visiting External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://jeffchristiansenmusic.com/  and click the 3 Aces tab.

     Rob also performs occasionally with Singer/Songwriter Ronda Dale from Portland, Maine. In this project, Rob is the guitarist/harmonica player.  Rob and Ronda perform as a duo and as a full band, showcasing Ronda's original songs from her debut album, Somebody Like Me, a few of Rob's original songs, and choice covers.  Rob and Ronda also perform as part of a tribute show to the music of Patsy Cline, which has played to several appreciative audiences.  Visit Ronda's website, External link opens in new tab or windowwww.rondadale.com for more information. Rob just finished up recording guitar on 7 tracks for Ronda's next album, due out soon.

     While it has been awhile since he has appeared on the theater stage, Rob still enjoys being involved in theatrical productions.  He has performed in pit orchestras for local Broadway Shows, including Grease, Carnival and Bye Bye Birdie.   from 2007-2013, he was involved with Freeport Community Players' Home Time Radio Hour, singing, acting, and playing guitar in the pit.   Rob returned in 2016 to become Radio's guitarist and musical director.

     In 2019, Rob reunited  with his two Bonny Eagle High School friends, Troy Bennett and Dean Clegg, who you read about above, They had a band called Unfinished Business.  It had been 30 years since they played onstage together.  They had such a great time at the reunion gig, they decided to reform the band.  Only this time, they are opting for more of a blues/soul/R&B focus, and they named the band Unfinished Blues Band.  Visit External link opens in new tab or windowwww.unfinishedbluesband.com for more information.

     Please visit the External link opens in new tab or windowRob Babson Music tab to find out what projects Rob is involved in outside of The Delta Knights.


     Education

     Rob has been a Reading Teacher for 15 years, and he values education.  Rob has studied guitar privately with Mike Silvestri, Gary Richardson, and Tony Gabourey. He studied voice with David Goulet and Debbie Scannell. 

     Rob has taught guitar privately, at Fiddlehead Arts Center, and in a group setting at Riverton Elementary School. 


Rob's Equipment at a glance:

Guitars:

1984 Fender American Standard Stratocaster

Epiphone Dot

2013 Fender HSS Stratocaster

2005 Fender American Deluxe Reissue Telecaster

Lakland Skyline DJ-4 Electric Bass

SMF Electric Bass

Larrivee Acoustic

Hohner Special 20 and Lee Oskar Harmonicas


Amps:

Fender '65 Princeton Reverb

Rivera Quiana Studio

Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb

Fishman Loudbox

Fender Rumble Bass 500 Amp


Darren Whitney: Tenor and Alto Saxophone


     Our reed man has played on and off with The Delta Knights since 1999, joining the band full-time in 2009.   Darren is highly skilled on Baritone, Tenor, Alto, Soprano Saxophones and Flute.   Since an early age, Darren has been inspired by many styles of music. Growing up and listening to the recordings of many musical greats such as Marvin Gaye, Charlie Parker, Poncho Sanchez and Sting, inspired him to start playing the saxophone. He discovered that the saxophone could be a vehicle to express the emotions inspired by these great artists. Because of his diverse taste in music, he participated in every musical situation available to him, from top 40 bands and reggae to jazz and funk.

     After high school, Darren had the opportunity to play in the world-renowned college big bands of North Texas State before returning to Maine to receive his BA in English Literature from the University of Southern Maine. In 1997 he had the pleasure of playing on Motor Booty Affair’s CD, “Can You Feel the Love,” which received airplay on MTV’s hit series Road Rules and Real World.  Darren is on a constant mission to create music in any genre with exciting passionate musicians and always trying to deliver performances filled with the exuberance and warmth audiences and concert promoters expect.  In addition to DK, he continues to perform with the best bands in the Greater Portland area.  He can be seen onstage with Bess Berg, Dan Merrill, The Shakes, The Time Pilots, and others.  Recently, he launched his solo act, playing many venues around the Southern Maine area.

     Darren has studied saxophone and music theory with a wellspring of music educators, including Bill Street, Dan Haerle, Scott Reeves, Bob Thompson, Joe Laflamme, Janet Reeves, Alex Johns, James Riggs, George Garzone & and Tim Sessions.  Darren recently started playing solo shows.  Also, Darren has also taught saxophone privately for several years.


Brian Hodgman - Drums

 

     As a drummer, Brian is a rock.  Brian first became involved in DKB as a sub back in the late 90s, finally joining for good in 2012. His groove and time is steady, propelling the band, and dancers, on the dance floor.  Whatever style of music or event,  Brian is a consummate professional, always bringing his best to every show, whether attended by 13 or 1300.  Brian is also featured on several tracks on Rob's debut album.

     Brian started playing drums in the High School Band. He studied with Dick Demers early on, and has performed with many bands over the years filling in when he could. Some of the bands and performers are Cherrie Bonny, Malinda Liberty, Denny Breau, Frank Coffin, Rick Graham, Jeff Farnsworth, The Blues Bullies, The Blue Willow Band, and many others. When he played drums with Malinda Liberty, he got the chance to open for many Country Stars, such as Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette and Waylon Jennings.  Brian has also done studio work with many local musicians such as Denny Breau, Tim Bishop, and Jim Gallant to name a few.

Justin Maxwell - Bass/Vocals
Delta-Knights_Lobster-Co-10 | by Mystery Jig Studios
     Bassist/Vocalist Justin Maxwell is a fixture in the Portland music scene.  He joined the band in 2015.  Highly regarded as a bassist, keyboardist, vocalist, sound technician and recording engineer, Justin has performed and recorded both locally and nationally with a who's who of acclaimed artists.  Artists such as The Maine Dead Project, Cidny Bullens, The Colwell Brothers, Ronda Dale, Red Light Revue, The Shakes, Girls, Guns and Glory, The Coming Grass and many others have benefited from his unique stage presence, top-notch playing and professionalism.   Trivia tidbit - Justin was the engineer on Rob's debut album, 21 Frets, whihx i .


Other Musicians who frequently play with the Delta Knights:


       Andy Chipman: Keyboards



Kate Campbell-Strauss: Saxophone

Scott Morrison: Bass

Mark Napoleone: Keyboards

Our Sound Technician Giz Daniels



 Photo Credits:  All photos except Kate Capbell-Strauss by Troy R. Bennett, Mystery Jig Studios - External link opens in new tab or windowTroy R. Bennett | Flickr