Rock Review: Unsung Hero

January 20, 2017
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By Chris Spiewak

Most artists endeavor to see their name on a big marquee outlined with bright lights, but there are others who would rather remain a bit under the radar, quietly going about their business of entertaining the masses. A la Clark Kent of Superman lore, Rob Dye of Atlantic Highlands is a mild-mannered advertising executive during the day, and a superb musician by night, entertaining thousands annually and saving them from the daily grind.

Running the long-standing open mic night every Sunday at Jamians in Red Bank is just the tip of the iceberg for this shy, quiet and philanthropic singer/songwriter. A guitarist from a young age, Dye had no formal music lessons in his life, choosing to learn on his own. Growing up in north Jersey, he settled in Monmouth County in 1995. Dye realized that music was something he truly loved, and decided to make it a career. He took an advertising sales job with Guitar World magazine while sharpening his skills on the guitar, and performing as a solo or duo act on the weekends. When his open mic night at the Downtown Café in Red Bank ended in 2009, Dye contacted Jamian LaViola about setting up a night at Jamian’s. LaViola graciously agreed, and with co-hosts Michael Ghegan and George Ott, Dye has been successfully rocking on Monmouth Street for the past eight years.

Singer/songwriters Rob Dye and Taylor Tote perform at the NAMM  (National Association of Musical Merchants) show in California.

The biggest feather in Rob Dye’s cap is undoubtedly his tireless and selfless work every year with the Light of Day Foundation. This organization was started back in 1998, when local artist manager Bob Benjamin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. With this news, Benjamin, along with local concert promoter Tony Pallagrosi and musician Joe D’Urso, decided to start the Light Of Day Foundation to raise money in the effort to fight this disease. In 2001, Dye met Benjamin and offered to help with some ad work for the annual Light of Day (LOD) concert held in Asbury Park. They soon became good friends, and Dye’s involvement with the charity grew.

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Now a member of the board of directors with LOD, Dye has helped coordinate not only the local shows, but also the expanding LOD European shows. In late November and early December of 2016, the LOD musicians performed 16 shows in 10 countries, including Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Germany and Italy. His duties after returning home from Europe included helping juggle some 100 artists performing at 40 events at 30 venues for the U.S. part of the festivities, which runs from Jan. 8 – 16. How popular are the Light Of Day shows in Asbury Park? Well, any event in the dead of winter that can get Bruce Springsteen out of his comfy lair year after year for this great cause must be pretty special, and it is.

Another principal focus for Dye is his volunteer work with Tim McLoone’s Holiday Express. When you ask Rob about his November and December schedule, he sounds a bit melancholy that he can’t do more with Holiday Express these days, with his LOD work taking him overseas from Thanksgiving to the second week in December. As with every Holiday Express member that you will ever talk to, Dye reveals that the work he does with this organization is some of the most rewarding and satisfying that he has ever accomplished; he and the other generous musicians provide a tremendous service to the central Jersey community.

So, what does Rob Dye do from February to October? Well, his current day job is in advertising for the venerated American Songwriter magazine, and he still works 150-175 nights a year with some of the finest artists at the Jersey Shore. Many of his gigs are as part of a duo, with either Melissa Chill, Taylor Tote or Mike Dockery on any given night; he also fills in when necessary with Brian Kirk & The Jirks. Dye’s first CD, entitled “Days To Here,” was released in 2009 with producer Askold Buk, and is chock-full of good music and some very famous talent. A new CD, “Moving With Ghosts,” is about to arrive this spring, so check or his Facebook page for more info and gig dates.

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Without a doubt, Rob Dye is one of the hardest working musicians in New Jersey. His noble and magnanimous disposition towards those in need, and his fellow musicians, surely make him one of the Shore’s unsung heroes.

Chris Spiewak is currently the bassist with Rock/Blues cover band VyntEdge.





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