Photograph by Robert Sanchez
Robert Dove: “San Diego is one of the world’s best kept secrets, musically.”
“I came out here six years ago from Columbus, Ohio because of an ex-girlfriend,” says saxophonist Robert Dove. “But San Diego is one of the world’s best kept secrets, musically, and I fell in love with the place.”
The 29-year-old musician is currently pumped about the new jam session he’s hosting at the Blind Lady Ale House. “It’s only been going for three months but I think it really has legs. I’ve been lucky, I’ve had a full house pretty much every Thursday night. It’s fun to see a lot of new faces I don’t usually see. I keep meeting people who had no idea what kind of talent we have here. It’s definitely a younger crowd — which is nice since I’m still young. My generation is starting to discover this music, which means the audience is growing.”
Dove has committed to keeping things fresh by rotating between bands and genres each week. “We bring in a different group every Thursday, alternating between a traditional mainstream session one week with a more funky ‘pocket session’ the next. This is keeping me busy, because it’s an all-ages session and I try to teach by example in a laboratory atmosphere, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Dove got the opportunity at Blind Lady Ale House from club-owner Jeff Motch, who also runs Panama 66 (1450 El Prado) and Tiger! Tiger! (3025 El Cajon Boulevard).
“Jeff is a heck of an ally to have in San Diego. He’s a huge supporter of the music, and he actually came to me with the idea.”
In addition to the weekly session at Blind Lady, Dove performs every Tuesday night at Prohibition with Mike Benge and his San Diego Latin Jazz Collective from 9 to midnight. “For me, learning how to play Afro-Cuban and Salsa music at a high level authentically has been a steep learning curve so doing these gigs keeps me pretty busy,” he said.
If that weren’t enough, Dove plays gigs with several corporate bands and does one-nighters with the Western Standard Time Ska Orchestra.
“I do a lot of teaching. I have about 6-10 students at my own private studio, and I coach the saxophone section at the School of Creative and Performing Arts in Paradise Hills. And last year I taught at Coronado School for the Arts and Coronado Middle School.”