Teacher, musician shows you don’t have to be just one thing in life

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published May 25, 2016


ROYAL OAK — Fifth-grade teacher Robert Wax has an interesting perspective on life.

“You know how when you are little, how kids are asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’” he said. “I never had one answer to that.”

The Northwood Elementary School teacher has personified his life philosophy that you don’t have to pick just one thing.

In addition to being dedicated to his profession as an educator, “Wax” — as he is referred to by his bandmates — is the frontman and lead vocalist of Crashing Cairo.

The band recently landed the gig of a Detroit lifetime — opening up for Eddie Money this Friday at DTE Energy Music Theatre.

“It’s iconic,” he said. “When you think of Pine Knob, there are just some things that come to mind and that is one of them.”

And yes, Wax is in the generation that still refers to DTE Energy Music Theatre by its former name, Pine Knob.

Wax said the theater holds about 15,000 people, and he was told there are usually about 10,000 in attendance for the last four songs of the opening band.

The Eddie Money concert has always drawn a sellout crowd at DTE and has grown to be a sign of summer starting in metro Detroit.

“We’ve played shows before with people who are more well-known than we are,” Wax said. “But nothing this huge.”

Wax describes Crashing Cairo as if you were to take Radiohead, U2, The National and Coldplay and put them in a blender, “and then scoop off the scum. We sound like the scum.”

In his music career, Wax has reached some applaudable milestones, like being photographed with Adam Ant at Hitsville U.S.A., opening for Kid Rock, playing frequently with The Verve Pipe and performing at CBGB in New York.

He was working as a solo artist at that time in New York when he met Duane Lavold, someone Wax said motivated him to form a band.

“We talked and he said I should turn it into a whole-band thing instead of doing it on my own,” Wax said. “So I did.”

Wax said he found the perfect fit when Crashing Cairo formed about six years ago. He said it was a great fit not only because of their talent, but because they all share the common belief that you can be more than one thing in life and you can go for it in everything that you do.

“I’ve been performing in different bands for years, and I love to teach, and I finally met a group of guys that answered a question the same way that I did,” he said, adding that all members are professionals in the auto industry by day and have other passions as well.

Wax has a growing list of movies he has appeared in and loves his role as a farmer in Oxford, where he lives. Right now he is getting his coop ready for his new chickens and finishing their run.

The lesson of reaching for all of your goals and not having to settle on one is something he is proud to have accomplished and to show his students on a daily basis.

“When working with kids, sometimes they learn by seeing, and they know I act, they know I do music, they know I’m a farmer, and it’s kind of embedded in everything that I do,” he said. “And so what a wonderful lesson to say they can be a couple of different things. They don’t have to be one thing.”

Northwood Elementary School Principal Angela Ashburn said the district is proud that one of its teachers is reaching this milestone.

“It is great that students can see a teacher with diverse interests and talents fulfill his dreams,” she said. “We want all of our students to pursue their dreams. We are glad that his day job is teaching our students.”

To listen to Crashing Cairo and learn more about the band, visit www.crashingcairo.com.