Music fans in the Temecula Valley don’t think of Albuquerque when they see the letters ABQ. What jumps to their minds is Adler, Blackburn and Quint. Husband and wife Robin Adler and Dave Blackburn joined forces with John Quint several years ago and together they are creating a live music experience second to none. How did these powerful musical forces combine, I wondered? I went to Dave and Robin’s Fallbrook studio to find out.
The two met in 1989. She was a music student at Mira Costa College. She decided at age 32 she wanted to be a singer and felt “I’ve got to do it right.” While taking vocal courses and studying music theory, she auditioned for a Manhattan Transfer type vocal group. She also backed up a songwriter for the school’s songwriting contest, and met Dave in the green room before her performance. “It was interest at first sight,” said Robin. Dave won the songwriting contest. At the time, he was a drummer who played a little guitar. He and Robin performed together occasionally, but not as a duo. He would help her put players together.
Eventually, it made sense economically for them to become a duo. He began teaching guitar and played “hours and hours a day”, honing his craft. They moved from Del Mar to Fallbrook, where Robin suggested they work on some of Joni Mitchell’s songs. “That’s when Dave and I really started playing together.” They have been performing Joni Mitchell albums in their entirety for 11 years now, and this November will perform “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” with their “Mutts of the Planet” band.
Robin was a regular of the Vitamin Shoppe in Temecula and it was there she met Carolyn, John Quint’s life partner. One day she mentioned to Carolyn that she sang and her husband played guitar. They traded CDs and soon both couples became close friends. John became a big fan of their music and started going to many of their shows. He loved the way they harmonized and found them unique. They all agreed a house concert would be a good idea and that became the birth of ABQ.
Working with Robin and Dave is gratifying to John as a songwriter and he enjoys playing music that speaks to a different audience than that of the many area covers bands.
“It’s important to make music with human beings you like and respect as artists” he added. Dave isn’t the only award-winning songwriter in the group. Last year John won the Your Music Out Loud international songwriting competition and he will be working in New York this November with a Grammy award-winning producer.
When you see them in concert, you’ll hear many of their original tunes as well as songs made popular by Tony Bennett, Sting, Seal, Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills and Nash. “We’re a listening group, not a party group,” added Robin. “We chose a different path,” said Dave. They don’t play typical classic rock music. People would often come up and say they loved their harmonies and asked if the did any Crosby, Stills and Nash. They finally decided on Guinevere, one of CSN’s more challenging songs. That’s the song they were rehearsing when I met with them. Dave mentioned they weren’t tight enough singing the word “Guinevere” and they rehearsed it until they got it right. That’s the kind of attention to detail that sets them apart. Robin said, “We just love what we do.” To find out where they’re performing, visit their Facebook page, ABQ Trio.