These Dads Rock - for a Great Cause

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Josh Rubin (left) and Andy Pfaff (right)

Clifton residents Andy Pfaff and Josh Rubin weren’t expecting to walk out of the Michaels craft store with the decision to make music together that summer night in 2022. Their sons, Jesse and Max, were both working as counselors at a summer camp and needed yellow t-shirts for “Dress like a Minion” day (Rubin also has a younger son who was a camper at that same place). It was pure coincidence that both sets of father and son ended up in the same store at the same time. Pfaff and Rubin weren’t strangers; they attend the same Bloomfield synagogue and their sons had marched together in the CHS Mustang Marching Band and are now studying at Rutgers and planning to room together next year. But although both musicians and on friendly terms for years, the older Pfaff and Rubin had never gigged together.

On living in Clifton, Rubin said, “I feel like it’s a down-to-earth place. It’s real. I like the diversity.” Pfaff said simply, “I agree 100%.”

Both men have degrees in music - Pfaff has a B.Mus. from Temple University and an M.Ed. from The College of New Jersey with supervisor certification from Montclair State. Rubin attended Rutgers and then transferred to the guitar-focused Berklee where he earned his B.M. Both are music educators. Pfaff teaches music at Bergen County Technical Schools and also plays privately for Hank Lane Music. Rubin is an adjunct professor of guitar and jazz at Caldwell University and teaches privately in and around Clifton.

Pfaff’s go-to bass for his gigs with Hank Lane is a 2008 Sadowsky 5-string, but his ‘87 Guild Pilot is one of his favorites to play. Rubin’s day-to-day guitar has been with him since his early teens. He bought the 1965 Fender Jazz Master in 1978 with money he’d been given for his Bar Mitzvah.

Pfaff, despite writing and self-producing his own music for years, hadn’t publicly performed any original pieces since his college years but was starting to think about getting a band together when he ran into Rubin that summer evening. They got to talking and, with a keyboardist recommendation from Rubin and a drummer whom Pfaff works with a lot, the backing band for Pfaff’s creation, Draff, was formed.

Both musicians have a strong jazz background. Rubin said of his favorite music to listen to, “40 years ago it was all jazz” but added that he also likes singer/songwriters, classical, metal, 60’s and early 70’s pop music…anything that isn’t too heavily processed. Today though, he prefers to play jazz rather than listen to it. “It takes too much energy. I can’t listen to it casually.” Although jazz was his area of study at Temple, Pfaff has broad musical interests. “[I] love Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, and lots of other ‘70s pop/rock. Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys. Tame Impala, Meatbodies, Deerhoof, Beck, the Smiths, Stooges, I could go on and on. Jazz, rock, punk, I love great examples of all of it.” Though he enjoys the bass playing he does for a paycheck, writing and playing his own music is something he does for the pure fun of it.

Once Pfaff had Rubin on board to tackle his latest original pieces he started looking for the best way to get his music in front of an audience. Together with Andy Krikun and Dan Sheehan, professors at Bergen County Community College, they created an event called Teachers Make Music. The show will feature music educators with their own groups playing their original music and benefits Save The Music, a non-profit organization that brings music education to underserved areas and schools across the country.

Draff is headlining the bill, which also includes the Andy Krikun Band, BLB, and Dan Sheehan. They are performing their all-ages show at Debonair Music Hall in Teaneck, NJ on Saturday, March 11. Doors open at 6 and the show starts at 7. Tickets are $10 or $15 at the door. All proceeds benefit Save the Music.



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