When Robbie DaCosta isn't playing music, he's listening to music.
When Robbie DaCosta isn't playing music, he's listening to music. When he's not listening to music, he's learning music. And when he's not learning music, he's eating and sleeping.
"I only know that I love music, and I love the fact that people are moved by music," says DaCosta.
In the past two years, the Ashland guitarist and his capable bandmates, Tom Stamper (drums) and Jeff Addicott (bass), have taken their place among the region's most prominent musicians. The trio plays weekly gigs at Alex's Plaza Restaurant in Ashland and Avalon Bar & Grill in Talent. They also play occasionally at Donnelly's Sports Bar and Habañeros Mexican Restaurant in Medford. Pianist Dal Carver joins the band for bigger gigs.
This week, The Robbie DaCosta Band is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23, at the Avalon, 105 W. Valley View Road, Talent, and at 8:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 27, at Alex's, 35 N. Main St., Ashland.
"More than any other band in town and probably the valley, people talk about Robbie, and they LOVE Robbie," says Charles Tobey, owner of Alex's.
When DaCosta says he plays everything, he's not exaggerating. The band's sets encompass rockabilly, R&B, country, folk, blues, funk and, on rare occasions, reggae and jazz standards.
"We call him the human jukebox because he has a greater wealth of different types of music that he can get up and play than anyone else in the valley," says Tobey.
DaCosta's repertoire dates back to the late 1800s and includes songs from every decade to present. He plays hit covers of Jackie Wilson, The Zombies, Smokey Robinson, The Miracles and Stevie Wonder, to name a few, as well as many forgotten or obscure songs.
"There are all these big hits that have been throughout all time, but then there's all these gems," DaCosta says. "There are so many songs that are cast to the wayside because American media has ADD (attention-deficit disorder)."
DaCosta recalls that one of the first songs he ever learned to play was "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins. His dad, Robert DaCosta Sr., was a singer and his Uncle Johnny was a drummer, so music came naturally to him. As a boy, he gravitated toward drums. After his dad introduced him to a few basic guitar chords, DaCosta began to apply himself diligently to learning the instrument. If he heard a song and liked it, he'd learn it.
"I don't want to be without it just because I don't have a record player with me," he says.
At 17, DaCosta joined his dad and his uncle playing guitar for The Fabulous Fairlanes. The band played strictly 1950s and '60s rock 'n' roll, and opened for popular oldies such as Jerry Lee Lewis, The Diamonds, The Doobie Brothers and The Shirelles.
When people would ask his dad how his son learned to sing so well, his father would reply: "Well, I tell him to sing himself to sleep," says DaCosta, whose robust vocals have been compared to Jackie Wilson, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley and the Rat Pack.
In 2000, the Fairlanes retired.
Over the years, DaCosta has played next to other local favorites, including David Pinsky, Gary Halliburton, Karen Lovely, Dave Miller, Joe Diehl, the Rogue Suspects and others.
"I chose to perform around here because I believe there is a lot of good music in this town," says DaCosta.
DaCosta is only days away from releasing his debut album, "Robbie DaCosta Live at the Avalon." He plans to produce two more albums next year, which will feature a few originals.
When it comes to writing his own music, DaCosta sees himself more as an interpreter than a composer.
"Lyrically, I feel like I don't have much to say, but musically I do," he says.
There is no cover to this week's shows at the Avalon or Alex's. The Robbie DaCosta Band also performs at 9 p.m. New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, at the Avalon. Tickets to the show cost $15 and are selling quickly. For more information, call the Avalon at 541-512-8864 or Alex's at 541-482-8818.