Bob Schneider, a Musician Who Gets It
Last night at the Independent in San Francisco, Bob Schneider rocked the house. Putting on his show, an eclectic mix of disjointed and mixed up ballads and love songs, a fantastic white man’s funk, and tales of pirates, partying and good old sex, drugs and rock and roll, Bob has one of the best live acts going today. A singer song writer from Austin Texas Bob is probably best known for his song “Big Blue Sea” which appeared on his 2001 Lonelyland release. I’ve listened to him for a few years now and have really enjoyed his sound.
With an alt.country sound and a rock and roll sensibility Bob is also one of the hardest working musicians out there today as well. He tours with his band extensively and over the past 10 years or so has been involved with a number of different bands and projects.
One of the things that I like best about Bob though is that I feel he really gets it when it comes to working as a musician. While some of the biggest wealthiest mega musicians out today want to sit at home and complain about how people are stealing from them by downloading music, Bob is hard at work, on the road, and finding creative ways to connect with his fans and to promote his music and make a living.
Rather than lock his music up and tie it down, Bob seems to take the attitude of try it and I hope you buy it. His website has long been a personal favorite of mine. You really should check it out. He’s got his entire last album on there for you to listen to along with a great little avatar movie of him that plays in the street with people passing by. My favorite song on the album is a bitter ballad called “Long Way to Get,” some of the most interesting and introspective songs from a singer songwriter out today.
So Bob shares his music on his website for free. Yeah, that’s cool, but what else does he do? Well, as a music collector I love live recordings. There’s something about those little nuances in your favorite songs that make them so very enjoyable after you’ve really grown attached to a song. So I was really excited to hear during last night’s performance that it was being recorded and that you could buy a copy after the show of the show. I bought a copy, a 2CD set for $15, and the sound quality is outstanding. Much better than the bootleg CDs that I used to trade and a real treat to add to my digital library and something with meaning and memory for me from having seen the show.
And the live versions of some of Bob’s songs were great last night. “Big Blue Sea” his most well known song started out with this really slow quiet acoustic tone with Bob growling through his opening lyrics. If you didn’t know any better you’d have thought it was Tom Waits himself up there performing as the song opened. Then the song opened up with Bob’s full band that supports him and is just a really terrific version of that song. I’m really glad I heard it live and I’m even happier that I now have a copy of it for my digital library.
Bob’s live concert CD was ready within 15 minutes of the end of the show and they had a tower of CD burners spitting them out and a huge long line of people wanting them. This is a terrific way for musicians to make more money out of their touring and a very smart way for musicians to add to their income in a post Napster world. The CD reads:
“This CD was made just for you. We spent about two hours recording this thing. It was probably mixed by Brad First. He’s one of the reasons there is a music scene in Austin. He used to run all the coolest new music clubs in Austin from the early 80’s through the early 90’s. Anyways, we try to take chances when we play and we make some mistakes but that only makes this CD that much more special, You can be sure that you are one of only a handful of people that own this recording. It is sure to be a collector’s item one day. If for some reason, you don’t dig it, please bring it back and we’ll give you your money back or give you another one. We can only do it in person though, so no mail or email please. We will probably always love you. Take Care. The Bob Schneider Family.”
Now how cool is that? Talk about adding value to a concert experience.
By embracing his fans and crafting creative alternative ways to make money as a musician, Bob is the smart example and a great role model (even if he does swear like a motherf*****er) for how other working musicians ought to think about their businesses going forward.
And the photos. Also very cool. I was able to get permission through Vanguard records to shoot Bob’s show. A few of the photos are in this article and I’ve got a small early set of them up on Flickr, but I’m going to add a lot more in the next week so check back later if you want to see more. I really appreciate being given the opportunity to shoot the show. Thanks to Vanguard, thanks to Bob, and thanks to Brad (Bob’s touring manager) especially for getting me and my camera in the show and making us feel welcome when my name wasn’t on the guest list at the front desk when I got there originally.
Matt the Electrician also opened the show for Bob and has his own very funny alt.country thing going on. He has a hilarious cover version of Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl complete with his story of his first rock concert ever where he almost ended up buying a pink Rick Springfield tank top because that’s all the shirts they had left, but better sense prevailed. Lots of great music and lots of great humor that Matt the Electrician’s got going on.