Robert Wax would like to be cool and hip and say that playing this weekend at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, when his band Crashing Cairo opens for Eddie Money, is just another gig.
But that wouldn't be entirely accurate.
"Y'know, we've played a lot of small shows in a lot of empty rooms, and to tell you the truth I thought I missed a shot at playing Pine Knob," Wax says from his office at Norwood Elementary School in Royal Oak, where he's a fifth grade teacher and recently directed the school play, "Shirley Holmes and the FBI." "So I can't believe we're actually doing this. The whole band has wanted to do something like this our entire lives."
The 47-year-old Wax (nee Dietiker), who resides in Oxford with his wife and two children, has been making music all his life, both as a solo artist billed as I Am Wax and for the past 10 years with Crashing Cairo, whose other members -- guitarist Joel Cooper, keyboardist Dustin Walker, bassist Nick Porter and drummer Dave West -- all work in the automotive industry. A pivotal moment; attending a Mac Davis concert at Pine Knob when he was five or six years old with his parents.
"We were close to the front and someone placed me on the stage," Wax recalls. "So here's Mac Davis singing a song about a little boy to me. For six months I thought Mac Davis was my real dad! But after that I would walk up and down the street with an acoustic guitar, strumming and singing."
Music is only one of Wax's artistic endeavors, however. He's amassed an acting resume that includes small roles in films such as "Transformers," "Real Steel" and "Batman Vs Superman." And he has a five-acre farm in Attica Township, where he's raising chickens.
"It's a lot of different lives, but that's OK," Wax says. "Y'know, we always ask kids that are around the age I teach, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' I think one thing all of the (Crashing Cairo) band members have in common is we didn't just check one box. We said, 'OK, we're going to be this and something else,' and we all kind of decided we could be more than one thing.
"I think it's a good lesson for the kids. They can look at someone like me and think, 'Alright, this guy's my teacher, but he's also got this other thing.' It helps them say, 'I can be more than one thing. I can be a fire fighter and an artist. I can put things together, and it's OK.' That's a great message for kids."
It also keeps Wax a little cooler in the classroom, too. "Oh yeah," says Wax. It depends on the kid, but most of them think it's pretty cool I've been in movies. And then you've got kids that just love music, and they just thinking having a teacher in a rock band is really cool."
With summer vacation nearing Wax is planning to be busy with Crashing Cairo. In addition to the DTE show on Friday night, May 27, the group released a new song, "Cotton Pillow," this week that it recorded at Tempermill Recording in Ferndale. More new material will follow in coming months along with some shows, and Wax is even putting acting opportunities aside in order to concentrate on the band.
"I'm really focusing on the music right now because this is a big moment," he says. "We're really dedicating all our time and energy into the music and trying not to be distracted by anything else."
Eddie Money, Dez Money & The Faze and Crashing Cairo
7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27.
DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.
Tickets are $34.50 pavilion, $10 lawn.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.
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