Blue Son, a new band based in West Windsor, makes its debut in the area on Saturday, July 19, at the West Windsor Farmers’ Market. Musicians include Paul Rubin, lead singer and guitarist; Omar Lopez on drums and saxophones; and Dan Damon on bass.
Paul Rubin, a Slayback Drive resident, was born and raised in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, New York. “Music has always been a part of me even though I never realized how much it would come to mean in my life,” he says. “I used to create songs with my little sister making her sing every phrase exactly the way I wrote it — or else — or pretending to give a concert on the piano.”
Piano was his first instrument. “My mother played piano while she was growing up, and she still has that same baby grand piano in her home to this day,” says Rubin. Each of his siblings, two older brothers and a younger sister, took lessons from Ruth Bella, a neighbor, and one by one gave it up in favor of baseball or playing with friends. “I would always play around on the piano but never really studied music again until a friend gave me a guitar when I was 15,” says Rubin.
“It wasn’t until years later that I realized that the timeframe coincided exactly to when my parents were separating and getting a divorce,” says Rubin. “The guitar and music became a world that I could have some control over as the world around me changed so dramatically.”
Rubin has vivid memories of how music affected him and how it altered his emotional environment at a very young age. Some of his favorites include “Tuesday afternoon” by the Moody Blues before playing a baseball game with his Little League team and “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Diana Ross and the Supremes before going to the dentist. “Both injected a sense of calm before a storm,” he says.
“I remember hearing a friend of mine playing Jimi Hendrix songs and that really fascinated me to see and hear someone play the guitar like that right in front me,” says Rubin.
His main instrument is still the guitar, but he often plays keyboards when recording. “I use the keyboards to record different sounds into my computer to enhance the arrangements in my music; samples of orchestral instruments, organs, pianos, electronic sounds, etc. can fill out the sounds I hear when I’m writing,” says Rubin. “Right now I don’t currently have live musicians to fully realize all the sounds I would like to hear, but that in itself lends itself to creativity by trying to make what you do have sound great.”
He attended Sheepshead Bay High School up to junior year and then transferred to City-As-School, an experimental high school in downtown Brooklyn, in his senior year. The school offered internships in subjects instead of classroom time. “They gave you subway and bus tokens so you could get around the city for your different classes,” says Rubin. “I would work in a New York City hospital recovery room one day and then in a Bedford Stuyvesant elementary school library for an English credit the next.” Although he did not graduate from the school, he did receive his GED that summer and pursued a life and career in music full time.
He played in different local bands while working at fast food restaurants and elsewhere for money. “I was working with a couple of very talented artists and we were getting great gigs at major New York City clubs like CBGB’S, Irving Plaza, Red Parrot, and others,” says Rubin. “I even headlined the night the Limelight first opened its doors.”
“I kept working at that goal until I was 25, then started to think about a more stable lifestyle,” says Rubin. “It was hard to let that go, but I took a course in word processing and started to get office work, at first temporary assignments until one, Sunshine Biscuits, turned into a full-time position.”
He went on a musical sabbatical for many years. He received an undergraduate degree in communications from Rutgers University when he was 40 and a graduate degree in technology management from Stevens Institute of Technology three years later. In 2011 he received a project management certification from the Project Management Institute. A solutions architect in AT&T’s global customer solutions organization, he leads network-based solutions for international Fortune 500 companies.
Over the years he married, got divorced, and remarried again in 2009. He and his wife, Alyssa, live with her son, Drew, 19, a sophomore at University of Maryland’s business school.
His daughters, Samantha, 25, and Jenna, 19, live in Marlboro with their mother. Samantha is a Rutgers University graduate and is pursuing her graduate degree at Monmouth University in mental health counseling. She is an assistant care coordinator for the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence. Jenna, a college sophomore, studies textile merchandising and design at University of Rhode Island.
Dan Damon, also a resident of West Windsor, lives with his wife, Michele, a registered dietitian at Davita, on Canoe Brooke Drive. Their two children are Wyatt, 10, a rising fifth grade student at Village School; and Jesse, 7, a rising second grade student at Maurice Hawk. The family is involved in the West Windsor community with Dan as a den leader in Cub Scout Pack 66 and Michele as a board member for the West Windsor Farmers’ Market. Wyatt and Jesse are active in West Windsor-Plainsboro sports including football, baseball, basketball, and soccer.
Born and raised in Watertown, New York, Damon has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology from SUNY Oswego and a master’s degree in public health from SUNY Albany. He is a benefits manager at Johnson & Johnson.
Bass guitar is Damon’s first and current instrument. He became interested in music through listening to classic rock groups Led Zeppelin, Doors, Pink Floyd, and others during college. He began playing bass in the mid-1980s and has played in more than 25 bands performing both original and cover songs in hundreds of nightclubs and music venues throughout New York and New Jersey. He is an accomplished bassist in a full spectrum of music that includes rock, funk, blues, jazz, folk, and alternative styles.
Damon received positive reviews from newspapers in Oswego, Albany, and New York City. He also received individual recognition for his original song “Tiananmen Square,” and formed his own original high energy rock-funk band, Husky Trousers, released an LP that was distributed across the area and received local radio airplay, and formed Big Stone IV, an original rock band.
He moved to Princeton Junction in 2002 and took time off from playing to start a family. “My passion for music was rekindled first as a rotating bass player at Princeton Community Church and then playing with my 10-year-old son, who played drums with me in several local performances,” he says. Damon currently plays in Area 25, an electronica acid jazz band.
The band performs all original modern rock with songs by Rubin. “Paul has lots of great material, but Omar and I are free to come with our own arrangements,” he says. “We are staring to work on collaborative songs.”
Omar Lopez was born in Trenton and raised in Hamilton. He is the youngest of three siblings. His father, Jose Luis Sr., owned a home repair and construction business in the Trenton area for more than 40 years. He died in 2011. His mother, Elsa, 63, is a retired factory worker.
Lopez became interested in music in fourth grade and began playing music when he was 16. His first instrument was the clarinet, which he gave up when his high school band director asked him to play tenor sax.
“I started playing with the high school jazz band and really got into performing and started crafting my sound,” he says. “I took to the saxophone pretty quickly and also began to teach myself drums and percussion.” Now Lopez plays drums, alto and tenor saxophone, and piano on a professional level, and can also play some bass guitar and flute. Lopez plays drums, saxophone, and some piano on Rubin’s original works.
He studied humanities, social science, and later music technology at Mercer Community College. He is now completing his bachelor of science in music production at Full Sail University.
An EMT in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for more than 10 years, he is a medical coordinator for Assist America, a global emergency services provider. He also teaches piano, saxophone, drum, and vocal lessons to all ages. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for information about music lessons.
Lopez is engaged to Jasmin Arriola, a registered nurse at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, a clinical instructor, and speaker. “She also helps manage my music career by helping me maintain my schedule and researching venues,” he says.
“These past eight plus years has been a bit of a musical reawakening for me,” says Rubin. “I was looking for other musicians to work with me on my songs and I met both Dan and Omar through an on-line music networking service called Bandmix.”
Rubin met Lopez in May of 2013. “He invited me to hear him play at a church service where he regularly plays so that we could meet and I could get a sense of his capabilities,” says Rubin. “Omar is a multi-instrumentalist playing keyboards, alto and tenor saxophone, and drums.”
“Initially, Omar played the keyboards and sax with the group,” says Rubin. “But, when the drummer we were working with left I asked Omar if he would put down the keys and sax to help out and play the drums.”
“From the moment he hit the snare drum, I knew that this dude’s drumming was going to be incredibly unique,” says Rubin. “He tells a story with the beats he plays in each song. When I listen to Omar play, it’s like looking over a landscape of hills, and valleys, rivers, and mountains. We’re on a journey.”
Rubin and Lopez have formed a close bond by connecting immediately. “We share a musical vision that continues to take my compositions to a level I couldn’t foresee,” says Rubin.
“We play original music in the Indie/Alternative/Classic rock vein,” says Rubin. “I guess you can say we’re definitely not pop, or R&B, or blues, or country but there is probably a bit of each of those in our music. We’re Indie because we’re independently produced; alternative because we’re really not straight-ahead rock, and classic because I think the writing draws a lot from classic rock from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.”
Rubin met Dan in February. “As every musician knows, bass players are a rare breed and almost impossible to find,” says Rubin. “Having found one that plays as well as Dan does, and also shares the same musical sensibilities was very lucky, indeed. And we live literally down the road from each other.”
“Dan was immediately able to gel with both Omar and me and has added great dimension to the songs by balancing rhythmic and melodic lines and filling the spaces in-between the guitar parts and drum beats with, what I can only describe as, dark, tight, big `purpley’ foggy tones,” says Rubin. “While it’s been only a few months since Dan has joined the group, he has truly completed us and completes the sound that makes us Blue Son.”
West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market, Vaughn Drive Parking Lot, Princeton Junction Train Station. Saturday, July 19, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Music by Blue Son. 609-933-4452. www.westwindsorfarmersmarket.org.