Big Head

When I was in Fifth Grade, I was coming out of the bathroom one day and a fourth grader, Todd McWilliams, looked up at me and said…

“Hey Big Head!”
Big Head? I have a big head? Like physically? Or, a big head because I’m overconfident?
I never told anyone what happened because why would I do that?

“Do I have a big head?”
“No. Well… Maybe… Kind of…”

My heads too big.
My head is so big that it has a gravitational pull.
Tiny little clowns follow me with ropes attached to my head as I walk down the street.

I actually had a conversation with someone that went like this:
“I have to tell you Rob, I think you are going to be famous.”
“What? Really? Why?”
“I can just tell. I have always been able to tell. You have something in common with a lot of celebrities.”
What is that?
“You have a very expansive face. Lots of famous people have big heads.”

This didn’t happen exactly but it could have:
“Ok, lets get a group shot. Everyone gather around. Ok. Wait. Rob? Could stand in the back so that your head will balance out with the others? No in the back. Further back.”

I once started working with one of the best voice teachers in Chicago. By this time, I had worked through my “big head” anxieties or what I call, “BHA.” I was in charge now, there was a confident and not over confident person inside this… head.

“Wow Rob, that was great. You just hit those high notes so easily. As a voice teacher, I have worked with a lot of singers and you… you have such great attributes that contribute to your singing. I mean, first of all, you have an enormous head cavity.”

Sigh.

The Green Mill

Every Thursday night you can re-visit the past and feel like you are in Chicago circa 1939. The Green Mill has tons of history connected to it and it’s one of my favorite places in the city.

Singing with David Sherman and Amanda Wolff

Join me along with Amanda Wolff, David Sherman, Matt Lewis, Rugani and the The Alan Gresik Swingshift Orchestra!

All the songs the band performs are original charts from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. Bandleader Alan Gresik has access to the vast collection of arrangements at the Chicago Public Library. These arrangements were used on local radio shows back in the 1930’s, played by their “house” band. Alan told me that in some cases, the arrangements were still in their unopened cellophane wrappers. So its possible that some of these old arrangements are being heard for the first time.

One of my favorites is this version of Irving Berlins “Let Yourself Go.”

My Oz Books

I have been collecting Oz books for most of my life. I remember going to the wonderful old library in my home town when I was a kid. It had once been one of those grand “Meet Me in St Louis” type houses (except in Dundee, Illinois where I grew up) and it was placed mid-way up a steepish hill that led down to the main area of town.
I remember the librarian was this older woman with a bee-hive hair style and cat glasses. She rarely if ever smiled. The floors creaked as  you went up to the second floor where I discovered the Oz books. I knew of the movie of course and I knew of a version of the book that my First Grade teacher had.  I fell in love with and was greatly inspired by the drawings of W.W. Denslow. I checked the book out from the classroom library each and every week until Mrs. Weaver told me that the other kids wanted to read it too. They didn’t.

My Grandma gave me one of my first of the “white cover” collection. It was “The Wizard of Oz” and it led me down the (yellow brick) road to discover the Land of Oz and all the magic that lie in it.

The above photo shows several of the books I have. The second one from the left is one of my favorites. This is the version my teacher had. It was the edition released along with the movie.

So, Mrs. Weaver, wherever you are, I don’t have to check it out from you. It’s mine… MINE!!!!!

From Robbie to Bob to Rob

All the guys in sixth grade did it. Each and every Bobbie and Robbie did it. They all became Bob.
Robbie, I was told by some of the other boys was a girls name.
“Cool! I’m gonna be, Bob Dorn. I don’t have to have a girls name anymore.
It was exciting, it was a rite of passage to remove the “i” and the “e.” We all thought it was cool. Cool! And my Grandpa, my namesake’s nickname was Bob.

“Mike Acre?” the teacher would call out.
“Here.”
“Dale Ballew?”
“Here.”
“Tom Brian?”
“Here.”

“Bob Dorn?
There was a pause.
“Bob Dorn.”
There was a longer pause.
“Bob Dorn!”
“Oh!” I realized. She was calling me. “Here.”

I never answered when my name was called and I kind of felt weird being called “Bob.” But I couldn’t go back to Robbie and within a week or so of being “Bob Dorn,” something happened that changed my life forever. And it is all because of Tracey Thayer.

Tracey was the daughter of one of my Dad’s best friends. She was two years older than me and I really looked up to her. For as long as I could remember, Tracey was like a big sister.
So here’s what happened.
I was walking up the hall this way and my buddy Tom Brian, previously known as Tommy, was coming down the hall towards me. Tracey was also walking down the hall towards me, several steps behind Tom. Everything’s normal. I’m on my way to my next class. Tom sees me and just like he had been doing for a week or so, in a very cool non-chalant way he simply says, “Hey Bob!”
Tracey heard it.
“Bob?” she started, “Bob?! Bob Dorn?!” She literally fell to the floor laughing. “Bob Dorn!! Oh my GOD that’s hysterical. Bob Dorn!!”

She just laughed and laughed laughed and it only took a moment, a split second to change my life forever. The B became an R and from that day forth I was Rob.
Rob Dorn. That works! Thank you Tracey Thayer, thank you.

And who was I kidding? Bob Dorn… Bob Fred Dorn. I never was a Bob. Sorry Grandpa Walledom. I’m not a Bob, I’m a Rob.

9th Annual Bab Fab

BAB FAB at Davenports, April 23, 2017

Happy Days are Here Again!

Now in it’s 9th year, Rob Dorn hosts an annual musical birthday tribute to the legendary and one and only Funny Girl, Barbra Streisand.  BabFab features a cast of some of Chicago’s favorite performers singing songs from her amazing career! The show will be a benefit for Chicago’s Three Cat Productions.

Featuring Jen Farney, KT McCammond, Paul MotondoStephen Rader
and Three Cat’s Artistic Director, Jason Paul Smith.
Conceived and Written by Rob Dorn
Music Direction/Accompaniment by Aaron Benham

Sunday, April 23, 2017
at 4:00pm
Davenports

1383 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
$20 (plus a 2 drink minimum)
Reservations recommended: davenportspianobar.com


BABFAB Promos


Rob at the Barbra Concert

Read about my First Barbra Concert Experience


Favorite Streisand Recordings

Family History

The John Walledom Family around 1905  (clockwise starting left backrow) Eleanor, John Jr., Jessie Andrew, John Walledom Sr., Robert (my namesake) Evelyn (Babe) and the Matriarch, Mary.

My Mom told me lots of stories about her family and after she died, I panicked at the thought of these stories fading away. I love family history and so I want to incIude those stories here. I am also going to include stories from the Paternal side of my family as well. I hope that the joy I have listening, remembering and discovering these stories translates to you as well.