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Wed November 4, 2015

Bob Schneider

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Bob Schneider
In the heavy Texas summer heat, Bob Schneider stands in his garage, splattered in paint. Thick leaves pulled from fine art books soak in water baths as he prepares layers for a new collage. Intestines swirl on faces, haunted eyes peer out, and paintbrushes coat layers upon layers of glue as images transform one atop the other until Bob steps back, done.
The collage will find itself as the cover of Bob’s latest album, a curated collection of three thematically-linked five song EPs, collectively titled King Kong. The album hearkens back to his earliest releases, Lonelyland (2001), I’m Good Now (2004), albums that brought the essence of Bob—good songs, all genres, fun and harrowing, sharp and insightful. Songs to dance to, to laugh with, to mourn through.

Fans who buy the physical album are treated to an artistic masterpiece, a collector’s dream, with prints of Bob’s art wrapping the music.

Bob Schneider is the best artist you’ve never heard of. But this year alone, he’s headlining every premiere venue in Austin—the Paramount, the Bass Concert Hall, Dell Hall at the Long Center, and ACL Live/Moody Theater. Sure, he’s struggled to break out of the Texas bubble, but this doesn’t stop him. “If I were to listen to the gatekeepers—the critics, the charts—I’d never have done anything.” And though the media barely grants him sidelong glances, the audiences keep coming.

Bob packs houses, he croons, he makes everybody swoon.

Bob Schneider is tenacious, constantly churning out new work. He’s thinking ahead, two albums down the line. “When I’m recording a record, when I’m mixing a record, I’m still writing songs. I’m always writing songs.” He’s known for his prolific catalogue, more songs than most other bands on the charts have…combined. He brims with projects and ideas: a demo bible—a collection of 1000 original demos with lyrics—is long in the works, a way for his longterm fans to access all of his songs and all of their lyrics, from the deeply poetic to the tangled and twisted to the flat-out profane. He’s also hard at work developing The Across The World Symphony.

Bob doesn’t sleep. At least, it seems like he doesn’t sleep. He’s working on an arrangement at four a.m. He stays up all night filming and editing videos to accompany the songs on King Kong, releasing new videos weekly.

Offered a new project—a cameo appearance in a film, the chance to judge the Literary Death Match, and Bob’s all in: “That sounds terrifying. I’ll totally do it.” He thrives on the challenge, happier to tackle projects that teeter on the edge of failure than return to the mundane sure successes.

Tell Bob that he can’t do a project, and he’ll just stop talking to you about it. “I have a complete inability to take no for an answer,” he laughs. If he’s got his mind set on it, he’s going to make it happen. Ideas, projects, art pours out of him.

One spring afternoon, he arrives at a friend’s yard to haul off a six-foot-tall tree trunk that blew down in a storm. Coming straight from a photo shoot, he’s dressed to the nines, but quickly gets covered in mulch and bark as he lugs the giant logs around, investigating which one he wants to bring home. He’ll work it on his back patio, sanding and sawing and sanding until he’s got another in a series of haunting wooden sculptures, phallic, monk-like, a wooden choir of silent song and prayer. Trees fall, Bob crafts, sawdust in his hair.

Then he crashes into bed, catches just enough downtime to revive him, and wakes again, moving at top speed. He showers, drinks a pot of coffee, and races off to a gig. He arrives onstage, fully present and ready to play.

Audiences around the world can now peek into the sacred heart of the Austin live music scene, as Bob has begun livestreaming his Monday night residency at the Saxon Pub. Here each week for over fifteen years, he’s gathered up his band Lonelyland, and taken over this Austin institution. Bob presents his newest songs, plays with fresh arrangements, and charms the pants off of everyone in the room.

Bob Schneider is always pushing himself. And he’s pushing his audience. His songs are alive, fierce, hilarious, raw, crass. And then soulful, haunting, sweet, good.

He’ll leave you breathless. He must leave you breathless. He pushes himself to breathlessness, howling into the mic, playing his fingers raw, the room awash in thick waves of sound.
Then he’s jaunty, silly, laughing at his own jokes and tossing around a flyaway tune. Listen closely, and the lyrics speak of loss, betrayal, sorrow. But he’ll sing it to you with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

Cleopatra Degher
Cleopatra’s debut album Pacific was released in Fall, 2014. Following its release, she was a featured artist on NPR’s World Café Next, and the record charted on numerous college radio stations across the U.S. The Austin Chronicle says she may be the “Emmylou Harris for a new generation of folk.” San Diego critic Layla Marino said the “pitch-perfect timbre of Degher’s voice . . . rivals those of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell.”

There’s a lot of California in Cleopatra’s sound – NPR’s David Dye noted that the songs “speak fluent Californian” – but, in fact, she spent more of her childhood in Sweden. After attending kindergarten near San Diego, she lived the rest of her school years in Malmö (the child of a Swedish mother and a Californian father). But Cleopatra sometimes felt like an outsider in Sweden and experienced a deep sense of homecoming when she returned to California at eighteen. She released a debut EP Restrung soon after (in 2012). Referring to the EP’s title, she said that’s how she felt coming back to California, “like a guitar with brand new strings.” The San Diego Union Tribune called the EP “a catchy acoustic collection brimming with melody and insight.”

With Pacific, Cleopatra has taken things to the next level. It’s a lush, fully-realized collection of songs that dive deep, that seek, that calm. It’s a record where traditional American folk influences underpin both the songs and the performances. But Cleopatra has little interest in being a museum piece. Her contemporary folk sensibilities, along with something fresh in her haunting voice, ensure that the album resides securely in the present – even if the ghosts of Laurel Canyon and the Dustbowl do make frequent appearances.

Pacific was produced by Darius (Cleopatra’s singer-songwriter dad, who has released five CDs and played on Warren Zevon’s Sentimental Hygiene album). It was mixed by award-winning San Diego producer-engineer Jeff Berkley and mastered by Gavin Lurssen (T-Bone Burnett, Jackson Browne) in Los Angeles. The album features an eclectic cast of L.A. musicians as well, including drummers Phil Leavitt (7Horse & Dada) and Kevin Jarvis (Leonard Cohen, Peter Case), and keyboardist Carl Byron (Michelle Shocked). The record also features vocal harmonies courtesy of her friends in the San Diego acoustic music scene.

Cleopatra toured the West Coast earlier this year, and played at the 2015 SXSW Music Conference. Of course, she has also logged quite a few shows in Southern California, opening for such artists as Aoife O’Donovan. This summer, she’ll be playing shows on the East Coast and in Europe.

The video for the song “California Forest Fire” was directed by filmmaker James Reid in L.A. and can be seen on Youtube. Cleopatra was chosen as a finalist in the 2014 San Diego County Fair Singer/Songwriter Contest.
Bob Schneider
In the heavy Texas summer heat, Bob Schneider stands in his garage, splattered in paint. Thick leaves pulled from fine art books soak in water baths as he prepares layers for a new collage. Intestines swirl on faces, haunted eyes peer out, and paintbrushes coat layers upon layers of glue as images transform one atop the other until Bob steps back, done.
The collage will find itself as the cover of Bob’s latest album, a curated collection of three thematically-linked five song EPs, collectively titled King Kong. The album hearkens back to his earliest releases, Lonelyland (2001), I’m Good Now (2004), albums that brought the essence of Bob—good songs, all genres, fun and harrowing, sharp and insightful. Songs to dance to, to laugh with, to mourn through.

Fans who buy the physical album are treated to an artistic masterpiece, a collector’s dream, with prints of Bob’s art wrapping the music.

Bob Schneider is the best artist you’ve never heard of. But this year alone, he’s headlining every premiere venue in Austin—the Paramount, the Bass Concert Hall, Dell Hall at the Long Center, and ACL Live/Moody Theater. Sure, he’s struggled to break out of the Texas bubble, but this doesn’t stop him. “If I were to listen to the gatekeepers—the critics, the charts—I’d never have done anything.” And though the media barely grants him sidelong glances, the audiences keep coming.

Bob packs houses, he croons, he makes everybody swoon.

Bob Schneider is tenacious, constantly churning out new work. He’s thinking ahead, two albums down the line. “When I’m recording a record, when I’m mixing a record, I’m still writing songs. I’m always writing songs.” He’s known for his prolific catalogue, more songs than most other bands on the charts have…combined. He brims with projects and ideas: a demo bible—a collection of 1000 original demos with lyrics—is long in the works, a way for his longterm fans to access all of his songs and all of their lyrics, from the deeply poetic to the tangled and twisted to the flat-out profane. He’s also hard at work developing The Across The World Symphony.

Bob doesn’t sleep. At least, it seems like he doesn’t sleep. He’s working on an arrangement at four a.m. He stays up all night filming and editing videos to accompany the songs on King Kong, releasing new videos weekly.

Offered a new project—a cameo appearance in a film, the chance to judge the Literary Death Match, and Bob’s all in: “That sounds terrifying. I’ll totally do it.” He thrives on the challenge, happier to tackle projects that teeter on the edge of failure than return to the mundane sure successes.

Tell Bob that he can’t do a project, and he’ll just stop talking to you about it. “I have a complete inability to take no for an answer,” he laughs. If he’s got his mind set on it, he’s going to make it happen. Ideas, projects, art pours out of him.

One spring afternoon, he arrives at a friend’s yard to haul off a six-foot-tall tree trunk that blew down in a storm. Coming straight from a photo shoot, he’s dressed to the nines, but quickly gets covered in mulch and bark as he lugs the giant logs around, investigating which one he wants to bring home. He’ll work it on his back patio, sanding and sawing and sanding until he’s got another in a series of haunting wooden sculptures, phallic, monk-like, a wooden choir of silent song and prayer. Trees fall, Bob crafts, sawdust in his hair.

Then he crashes into bed, catches just enough downtime to revive him, and wakes again, moving at top speed. He showers, drinks a pot of coffee, and races off to a gig. He arrives onstage, fully present and ready to play.

Audiences around the world can now peek into the sacred heart of the Austin live music scene, as Bob has begun livestreaming his Monday night residency at the Saxon Pub. Here each week for over fifteen years, he’s gathered up his band Lonelyland, and taken over this Austin institution. Bob presents his newest songs, plays with fresh arrangements, and charms the pants off of everyone in the room.

Bob Schneider is always pushing himself. And he’s pushing his audience. His songs are alive, fierce, hilarious, raw, crass. And then soulful, haunting, sweet, good.

He’ll leave you breathless. He must leave you breathless. He pushes himself to breathlessness, howling into the mic, playing his fingers raw, the room awash in thick waves of sound.
Then he’s jaunty, silly, laughing at his own jokes and tossing around a flyaway tune. Listen closely, and the lyrics speak of loss, betrayal, sorrow. But he’ll sing it to you with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

Cleopatra Degher
Cleopatra’s debut album Pacific was released in Fall, 2014. Following its release, she was a featured artist on NPR’s World Café Next, and the record charted on numerous college radio stations across the U.S. The Austin Chronicle says she may be the “Emmylou Harris for a new generation of folk.” San Diego critic Layla Marino said the “pitch-perfect timbre of Degher’s voice . . . rivals those of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell.”

There’s a lot of California in Cleopatra’s sound – NPR’s David Dye noted that the songs “speak fluent Californian” – but, in fact, she spent more of her childhood in Sweden. After attending kindergarten near San Diego, she lived the rest of her school years in Malmö (the child of a Swedish mother and a Californian father). But Cleopatra sometimes felt like an outsider in Sweden and experienced a deep sense of homecoming when she returned to California at eighteen. She released a debut EP Restrung soon after (in 2012). Referring to the EP’s title, she said that’s how she felt coming back to California, “like a guitar with brand new strings.” The San Diego Union Tribune called the EP “a catchy acoustic collection brimming with melody and insight.”

With Pacific, Cleopatra has taken things to the next level. It’s a lush, fully-realized collection of songs that dive deep, that seek, that calm. It’s a record where traditional American folk influences underpin both the songs and the performances. But Cleopatra has little interest in being a museum piece. Her contemporary folk sensibilities, along with something fresh in her haunting voice, ensure that the album resides securely in the present – even if the ghosts of Laurel Canyon and the Dustbowl do make frequent appearances.

Pacific was produced by Darius (Cleopatra’s singer-songwriter dad, who has released five CDs and played on Warren Zevon’s Sentimental Hygiene album). It was mixed by award-winning San Diego producer-engineer Jeff Berkley and mastered by Gavin Lurssen (T-Bone Burnett, Jackson Browne) in Los Angeles. The album features an eclectic cast of L.A. musicians as well, including drummers Phil Leavitt (7Horse & Dada) and Kevin Jarvis (Leonard Cohen, Peter Case), and keyboardist Carl Byron (Michelle Shocked). The record also features vocal harmonies courtesy of her friends in the San Diego acoustic music scene.

Cleopatra toured the West Coast earlier this year, and played at the 2015 SXSW Music Conference. Of course, she has also logged quite a few shows in Southern California, opening for such artists as Aoife O’Donovan. This summer, she’ll be playing shows on the East Coast and in Europe.

The video for the song “California Forest Fire” was directed by filmmaker James Reid in L.A. and can be seen on Youtube. Cleopatra was chosen as a finalist in the 2014 San Diego County Fair Singer/Songwriter Contest.
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