Featuring Bobby Long

“I don’t want to be famous. That doesn’t drive me at all. I just want to be doing this all the time. Everyday.” (Bobby Long to ITN Music)

When I set out to write this article I was already a fan of Bobby Long. After reading, watching and listening to anything Bobby related I could get my hands on over the last few days, I may just be in love. I hope this feature, combined with listening to his wonderful music, leaves you feeling the same way. A self-proclaimed folksinger with a guitar, Bobby Long is obviously so much more.

Despite growing up surrounded by music, even playing the cello for a short while, Bobby was 16 before he picked up a guitar and started writing. He didn’t take lessons, but taught himself, learning a lot from old records. He loved performing and trying out new songs, so he started playing open mic nights in London. The first few times, he arrived too late to even get his name on the list. We should all be very glad he didn’t let that stop him.

Bobby is incredibly motivated, independently releasing his first music collection, Dirty Pond Songs, which he recorded in his bedroom. He says you can even hear the sounds of the traffic through the window on some of the tracks and calls it his “bootleg album.” He is always looking forward to the next thing whether it’s releasing an album or more touring.

The “Dangerous Summer Tour” has now expanded to include stops in France, Italy and Germany and a fall leg in the U.S. running from mid-October through late December. Just in case that doesn’t sound like he’s busy enough, you should know that Bobby’s move to London allowed him to attend London Metropolitan University. He recently wrote what he calls 12,000 words on the “social impact of folk music and the protest song in the ‘60’s,” to receive his degree just before starting his summer tour.

I think one of the things that surprised me most was Bobby’s wonderful sense of humor. That is, unless he’s seriously considering adding fireworks and dogs on stilts to his shows. And although he says anything and everything inspires him, he considers the pressure he puts on himself and dogs, big dogs, as some of the challenges of songwriting. And what’s the biggest difference he sees in playing shows in the U.S.? That everyone has an American accent and the places are open later.

He says sometimes the lyrics just flow and he’s not sure what they mean at the time. I think that’s very interesting. No matter what the meaning behind them when he is writing, his lyrics are certainly one of his strongest points. Bobby is definitely what you would call an old soul. I am so amazed that at 22, he can write the way he does. I could tell you all about his raw, soulful voice, but you can hear that for yourself.

Being from the Appalachian region, I found it fascinating that one of the artists Bobby would love to perform with is Emmylou Harris. She’s been a favorite of mine since I was a young girl and that is definitely a collaboration I would love to see. There are just so many wonderful facets to Bobby Long. I believe it is safe to say we have only begun to see what a bright future he has ahead of him.

Bobby’s next show in London will be at the Gibson Lounge on October 15. To hear more… check out his MySpace page and follow him on twitter. Photo courtesy of Martelli Photography.

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