!!! 2010 HIGHLIGHTS !!!
ROBERT LEE REVUE Premiered Several Songs From Their Debut Smooth Jazz Release FOR THE LOVE OF SMOOTH JAZZ on 1240 WGBB-AM's, THE REAL RADIO SHOW live in Times Square, Monday, November 29th at 7:00pm at Jamba Juice, 712 7th Avenue, NYC!!! Hosted by FRANKIE DEE; co-hosted by HENRY K, LISA & KEVIN and simulacast Worldwide on the web at www.TheRealRadioShow.com!!!
ROBERT LEE REVUE Performed Live In Concert at R BAR NYC, Tuesday, November 30th, at 10:00pm.! R Bar NYC, 218 Bowery, NYC, 347-482-1392, www.rbarnyc.com!
Robert Lee Balderrama, aka Bobby Balderrama, renowned guitarist of Question Mark and the Mysterians has delivered yet again - an original and imaginative work . . . a passionate and highly-flavored Smooth Jazz album entitled, FOR THE LOVE OF SMOOTH JAZZ, from his new band ROBERT LEE REVUE. Each track has its very own unique vibe, setting that 'smooth' mood, which leaves you feeling kissed by a warm ray of sunshine and cooled by a wet splash of salty-air breeze from the seashore. Featuring a precise blend of fluid guitar riffs, with complementary elements of keyboard and saxophone, leaves listeners wanting more. SANTA CRUZ, the first single to radio, is reminiscent of classic George Benson, whilst album tracks SALVAME and SAMBA NIGHTS reveal a Carlos Santana Latin influence.
FOR THE LOVE OF SMOOTH JAZZ showcases artistry and musicianship; which is the true essence of the ROBERT LEE REVUE. Bobby has assembled a group of formidable musical talent; fellow Mysterians Frank Rodriguez/Keyboards and Robert Martinez/Drums, along with Tom Barsheff/Saxophone and wife Amy Lynn (Balderrama)/Percussion. Live performances will see the nucleus of the band joined by Jack Nash/Bass, Rudolph Levario/Percussion and Bobby's son, Nick Balderrama/Rhythm Guitar. Featured Guest Vocalist on MI AMORE, the inimitable James Bradley, is one of the notable beloved R&B male vocalists of his generation; a suave crossover balladeer and meticulous pop craftsman with impeccable phrasing, delicate articulation and romantic delivery. He will lend his voice as his schedule permits.
FOR THE LOVE OF SMOOTH JAZZ was released June 29, 2010, on Bobby's new indie label AMR/ASSOCIATED MICHIGAN RECORDINGS. All songs are published by Robert Lee Balderrama Publishing/BMI. Bobby, Frank and Robert continue to tour and record with Question Mark and the Mysterians, but also make time to pursue other musical interests. Bobby and Frank's previous project, the ROBERT LEE BAND, was a blues outfit that recorded and released an eponymous album for the Bullfrog label entitled, CRAZY WORLD.
OF NOTE: Robert Lee (Bobby) Balderrama, Frank Rodriguez, and Robert Martinez, original guitarist, original keyboardist and original drummer respectively of ? & the Mysterians, have an historical significance which is quite clear; credited with creating and originating the musical genre 'garage rock/punk' in the early 1960's. As Steve Huey of All Music Guide states, "It only took one song, the organ-driven number one smash "96 Tears," to make ? & the Mysterians into garage rock legends…the Mysterians sound helped lay down an important part of the garage rock blueprint…they were one of the first Latino rock groups to have a major hit…one of the prime suspects in the evolution of garage rock into early punk."
FOR THE LOVE OF SMOOTH JAZZ
ROBERT LEE REVUE
Musicians on all songs:
Guitar: Robert Lee Balderrama
Keyboard/Piano: Frank Rodriguez
Sax: Tom Barsheff
Drums: Robert Martinez
Percussion: Amy Lynn
01. SANTA CRUZ (6:16) Balderrama/BMI - Rodriguez
02. MI AMORE (4:04) Balderrama/BMI - Rodriguez
03. TO THE BRIDGE (5:03) Balderrama/BMI - Rodriguez
04. HOLDING ON (5:07) Balderrama/BMI - Rodriguez
05. TROPICAL BREEZE (5:03) Balderrama/BMI - Rodriguez
06. CLOSE TO ME (4:24) Balderrama/BMI - Rodriguez
07. SAMBA NIGHTS (5:25) Balderrama/BMI - Rodriguez
08. SALVAME (3:30) Herb Sanchez
09. COCONUT (5:25) Balderrama/BMI - Rodriguez
10. TAKING IT EASY (5:31) Balderrama/BMI - Rodriguez
James Bradley/Vocals on MI AMORE
Jack Nash/Bass Guitar on CLOSE TO ME
Ron Lopez/Guitar on CLOSE TO ME
Jay Brandow/Rhythm Guitar on TO THE BRIDGE
Rich Schultz/Bass Guitar on HOLDING ON
Produced by Robert Lee Balderrama for AMR/Associated Michigan Recordings
Recorded and Mixed by Robert Lee Balderrama
except SALVAME written and recorded by Herb Sanchez and MI AMORE
recorded by Herb Sanchez
Mastered by Rich Schultz at Music From Grace Studios
Art Direction and Design: Debby Weber
Management: AMR/Associated Michigan Recordings, AssociatedMichiganRecordings@live.com
Booking: Seeking Higher Music, Lou_wallstreet@webtv.net
All songs published by Robert Lee Balderrama Publishing/BMI
Special Thanks to: Benny & the Jets, Chad Cunningham, Gary Johnson, Jehan Khateeb, Fred Reif, Rick & Nina Ruiner, Rich Schultz, and W. Kelly Milionis for their contribution and support.
For more information, visit Robert Lee Revue on the internet at:
C & P 2010 AMR/Associated Michigan Recordings. WARNING: All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. AMR/Associated Michigan Recordings, PO Box 413, Bay City, MI 48708, United States.
VIDEO CREDITS: Robert Lee Revue - Santa Cruz (promo video). Robert Lee Balderrama-Guitar; Frank Rodriguez-Keyboard/Piano; Robert Martinez-Drums; Tom Barsheff-Sax; Amy Lynn-Percussion; Nick Balderrama-Rhythm Guitar; Jack Nash-Bass; Rudolph Levario-Percussion.
Special thanks to: Video Executive Producer, Producer, Editor-Robert Lee Balderrama; Executive Producer-Frank Rodriguez; Producer, Director, Director of Photography, Cameraperson, Editor-Kelly Milionis; Cameraperson, Still Photographer-Fran Barsheff; Gaffer, Key Grip-Lou Hirschman; Grip-Allan; filmed on location at Indian Barry's in Bay City, Michigan; proprietor- Barry Kane
Self-contained artist who performs in any situation: live over tracks; live plugged or unplugged; live with various accompanying players; live with small, medium or large backing band; live with symphony orchestra.
Robert Lee Balderrama: Guitar
Frank Rodriguez: Keyboard/Piano
Robert Martinez: Drums
Tom Barsheff: Sax
Amy Lynn: Percussion
Additional Musicians for Live Performances:
Nick Balderrama: Rhythm Guitar
Jack Nash: Bass
Rudolph Levario: Percussion
James Bradley: Featured Guest Vocalist
FOR THE LOVE OF SMOOTH JAZZ (release date: 06-29-2010)
(AMR/Associated Michigan Recordings)
MANAGEMENT | RECORD LABEL | BOOKING | PUBLISHING:
including: Artist Interviews, Personal Appearances, Live Performances, Collaborations and other inquiries:
AMR/Associated Michigan Recordings
PO Box 413
Bay City, Michigan 48708
PUBLICITY | PROMOTION | MARKETING:
W. Kelly Milionis
New York Phone: 646-413-8687
Los Angeles Phone: 310-739-4351
Robert Lee Revue anchors a festive evening at Saginaw's Jazz on Jefferson
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It’s hard to imagine, when you think about all the performances Robert Lee has given in his lifetime...It’s hard to imagine, when you think about all the performances Robert Lee has given in his lifetime, that he could still get pre-show jitters.
This is Bobby Balderrama, one of the original Mysterians who toured the country with Question Mark when “96 Tears” topped the charts. And while he’s still a Mysterian — they’re playing New York City again this fall — Balderrama experimented with the blues, too.
“But I was kind of nervous last year, when we played Jazz on Jefferson,” he admitted. “This was our first gig as a smooth jazz band — this was my dream, since back in the 1970s, when I first heard George Benson — and I really wanted it to go well.”
Tucked between two big houses on the South Jefferson route, the Robert Lee Revue did so well, organizers asked the band to return Wednesday, June 8, for the big concert that closes the festival at First Congregational Church.
“It’s always the same and always a little bit different,” Thomas Trombley, deputy director of the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, said of the festival he’s helped bring together for eight years. “And if it rains or gets hot, it’s different in still another way.
“It’s always unique, too, as we put on our best faces and bring out our best china and show people what we’re all about.”
Everything but the food is free, though you’ll want to bring a little cash along for some strawberry shortcake. Musicians are scattered along the route — make sure you catch the Sasse Saxophone Quartet, a Jazz on Jefferson staple, at the Hoyt Library. And while the art competition isn’t returning this year, watch for artists at work, too.
You can make some art of your own, too, chalk art, that is, which reminds Trombley of the time students from the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy created beautiful works, only to see it disappear in a sudden rainstorm.
The crowds have grown with the festival, too, he said, as people explore the historical stretch and experience Jefferson. Les Tincknell, who with Kathy Reis co-chairs this year’s Jazz on Jefferson, and Trombley will again lead an architectural tour that night, this time focusing on the different styles of the buildings, from the Civil War period to the 1930s.
“It’s like a local vacation,” Trombley said, and it’s in flex, he added, to the very last moment.
For Balderrama, it brings full circle to a dream realized there last year.
“I always wanted to do this but I thought it was beyond my reach,” he said. “I would listen to George Benson and think ‘How does he do that?’ It’s easy on the ears, not intrusive. Even when I was a kid, I was in awe of people like Chet Atkins who could make that kind of music.”
Then came a resurgence in the 1990s, hearing groups such as the Rippingtons taking smooth jazz into all sorts of uncharted territory, “and it blew me away,” Balderrama said.
“I started writing some music myself, and playing it for friends. They’d tell me, ‘I didn’t think you could play like that.’ I didn’t either, but everyone said it sounded really good.”
One also pointed out that smooth jazz isn’t likely to bring back the sort of success he had in the ’60s with Question Mark and the Mysterians, and Balderrama knew it was true.
But surrounded by bandmates Tom Barsheff, Frank Rodriguez, son Nick Balderrama, wife Amy Lynn, Jack Nash and Rudolph Levario, Balderrama has seen opportunities open since that first show at Jazz on Jefferson.
“Last year, people were walking by, and they’d stop to listen, and pretty soon, we had a pretty big crowd around us,” he remembered. “It was a beautiful day, and it was so exciting, doing it for the first time.”
They played Saginaw On Stage and more, always drawing a good response, and they recorded an album, “For the Love of Smooth Jazz,” that’s getting play across Europe and into Africa.”
“Close to Me,” a beautiful, slow song, Balderrama said, was featured on a show in London, England, “and when I listened to it on the Internet, it was like the first time I heard ‘96 Tears’ on the radio, all over again.
“George Benson changed my world. We’re friends on Facebook now, and I still listen to him. This is a dream come true.”
FEATURED ARTIST LIST
Robert Lee Revue on Featured Artist List
ROBERT LEE REVUE
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Robert Lee “Bobby Balderrama” knew what he wanted to do by the time he was nine years old when he wa...Robert Lee “Bobby Balderrama” knew what he wanted to do by the time he was nine years old when he watched and listened to his father play the accordion. He was bitten by the music bug and eventually gravitated to the guitar, influenced by the pop and rock of the ‘50s and early ‘60s.
Balderrama soon became part of the lexicon of modern music himself in the early to mid-‘60s when he formed Question Mark and the Mysterians along with Frank Rodriguez (keyboards), Robert Martinez (drums), Frank Lugo (bass), and, of course, lead vocalist Question Mark. The Saginaw-based band broke out of Michigan in 1966 with the garage rock anthem “96 Tears,” which was a number one smash and sold over one million copies. They followed that up with two lesser charting singles, “I Need Somebody” and “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby,” which was covered by the group Smash Mouth in the mid-‘90s.
The rigors of the music business and the band’s financial problems prompted Balderrama to leave the group in 1969, while they were making plans to record an ill-fated third album. He always knew, however, that he would land on his feet and keep music at the forefront of his life.
Recently, the original lineup of Question Mark and the Mysterians performed a live concert at O’Toole’s in Waterford and the reception for the band seemed as strong as ever. Balderrama is certainly appreciative of that fact, but his interests have branched out these past few years into a smoother, more instrumentally-based form of music.
The Robert Lee Revue features Balderrama front and center on guitar, along with original Mysterians Rodriguez on keyboards and Martinez on drums, as well as Tom Barsheff on saxophone, Balderrama’s wife, Amy Lynn, on percussion, Jack Nash on bass, Rudolph Levario on percussion and vocalist James Bradley at select live performances. Detroit Live recently met with Balderrama in Bay City, Michigan, where we talked about some of his early history with Question Mark and the Mysterians and the path that led to his transformation as an up-and-comer in the smooth jazz field.
DL: You met a lot of special people along the way in the early days of Question Mark and the Mysterians, didn’t you?
BB: Tony Orlando comes to mind and I didn’t even know who he was at first. He had a hit in the late ‘50s at that time and we were doing our first album in Philadelphia for Cameo-Parkway Records. Our producer, Neil Bogart, brought him into the studio, and we became friends. I could tell he had som kind of Hispanic background. He was part Jewish and part Puerto Rican. He could speak Spanish and everything and was just a really nice guy. We had him song on “Why Me” on our first album and became really close.
DL: You also met Roy Orbison early on too, right?
BB: Yeah, he was a real quiet person, but I got to know his brother really good. I used to watch him sing and was just amazed. He would be doing a sound check and I thought he sang like an angel. I often wished I could sing like that. But I wasn’t really a singer, I was a guitar player.
DL: What are some shows that were really significant for you in those early days?
BB: We travelled with Rick Derringer and the McCoys, Sky Saxon and the Seeds, The Outsiders, with Sonny Geraci, and we all got along really good. We run into each other nowadays and we can talk about the past and have some great memories. And Rick Derringer has always been one of my favorite guitar players. He can play jass, blues, rock—very versatile. I wanted to be like him.
DL: You did a lot of television shows with Question Mark and the Mysterians in the ‘60s too, didn’t you?
BB: We did! There was American Bandstand with Dick Clark, Where the Action Is, Swingin’ Time with Robin Seymour, Upbeat in Cleveland and a lot of local TV in the various cities we would be playing. We came close to doing the Ed Sullivan Show. We were in New York City and our producer Neil Bogart told us to stay in our rooms and don’t go out. He told us the Rolling Stones had just come out with the song “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and Ed Sullivan wanted them to change it to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together if they were gonna appear on his show. We were on hold and Mick Jagger was deciding whether he wanted to do that or not. He agreed to do what they wanted, but I think he ended up singing the original words anyway (laughs). I don’t know if they ever did the show again, but it was our missed opportunity.
DL: You were with Question Mark and the Mysterians from ’66 to ’69. What did you do after that?
BB: I gaot a degree in electronics and got a job as a technician working on amplifiers, PA equipment and stuff like that. And I started a cover band called In Flight. We played a lot around Detroit. It was me and Frankie Rodriguez. We did some recording, but all I wanted to do was play music. At that time, I didn’t care about being a soloist or making it again. We played the Sudio Lounge, the Poison Apple, Red Carpet Lounge, Shirley’s on Nine Mile—we played a lot of clubs and always stayed busy. There were so many clubs in the ‘70s that you could stay in one city and be working all the time.
DL: How much of a stretch was it to go from garage rock to the blues of the Robert Lee Band in the early 2000s to the jazz scene you’re pursuing now?
BB: When we started out, I listened to B.B. King and Taj Mahal and always loved it, even though I wasn’t very good at blues. But I would take the pentatonic scale and things I learned from the blues and put it in the rock tunes I was doing. ON our first album, I asked Question Mark if we could do “Stormy Monday Blues.” Years later, I started getting into the blues with my own Robert Lee Band. Blues and jazz have always been a passion. Blues I understood, jazz I didn’t. But I wanted to. In the ‘70s, George Benson came out with “This Masquerade” and it was like listening to Wes Montgomery on hyper speed. I started studying this records and solos and could play melodically and tried to stay on top of jazz. About three years ago, me and Frank Rodriguez talked about doing a smooth jazz CD. We spent two years on it and it’s called FOR THE LOVE OF SMOOTH JAZZ. It’s more of a Latin jazz style, with some sambas and some Carlos Santana styles on it. Carlos is a master and one of my favorites. When we were doing blues in the Robert Lee Band, I really tried to promote it, but that’s a hard market to get into. It seems lika all the rockers from the ‘60s and ‘70s think we’re too old to make it in rock ‘n’ roll, so we fall into blues. It’s a great market and guys like Larry McCray from Saginaw are doing really good in it. But it was hard for me to break into. I’ve always loved jazz, and now that I’m older, I’m gonna stick with it. I love this music with all my heart and I enjoy playing it.
DL: Where do you play with the Robert Lee Revue, and do you get a lot of crossover Question Mark and the Mysterians fans?
BB: Yes, lots of our friends come out and see us play at a place in Saginaw called White’s Bar. We’ve played Sundays there. We did a thing called “Jazz on Jefferson” in Saginaw this summer, and that went really well. We sold out on all our CDs.
DL: What’s on the horizon for the Robert Lee Revue?
BB: We’re looking to get out there to the national public with what we’re doing. Smooth jazz has taken a hit and can be up and down like anything else. But we’re looking to play the bigger cities like Detroit, Chicago, and L.A. where this music will be a little more accepted.
For more information on Question Mark and the Mysterians, just go to www.96tears.net. For info on the Robert Lee Revue, check out www.sonicbids.com/robertleerevue or www.myspace.com/robertleerevue.
From the 3-Chord Wonder '96 Tears' to Serving Up Creative and Accomplished Jazz At It's Finest - The Long & Winding Road of Bobby Balderrama
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"Many times the most precious commodities that do more than merely exist within our community, but a..."Many times the most precious commodities that do more than merely exist within our community, but actually fortify the strengths that make it so exceptional, are similar to gold – common enough to be taken for granted, yet without it, our yardstick for determining value becomes meaningless.
In the musical world of mid-Michigan, Robert Lee (aka Bobby Balderrama) is such an artist. Back in the early sixties as the original guitarist for the groundbreaking Question Mark & the Mysterians, Bobby rode that heady first-wave of breakthrough artists leaving an indelible stamp on the face of Rock ‘n Roll. And while he continues to tour the world with Question Mark, his attentions can also be found in local clubs in the area, where he performs regularly with The Mysterians, demonstrating an artistic vision has consistently evolved, matured, and broadened over the decades.
A little over a decade ago Robert shifted into the realm of Blues, exploring blistering licks and compositions with The Robert Lee Blues Band; but now he is poised to conquer even newer and more dynamic terrain with his first foray into the world of Jazz.
With his newest release of original compositions, Robert displays a breathtaking poise and fluidity on his guitar that is utterly jaw dropping. Entitled For the Love Of Smooth Jazz, the 10-tracks on this newest release with The Robert Lee Revue span many genres and lush stylistic layers, yet serve as a fitting portrait for an artist that is truly coming ‘into his own’.
From the opening track entitled Santa Cruz, which features Robert pulling out polished clusters of arpeggio lead lines reminiscent of George Benson while Mysterians keyboardist Frank Rodriguez tickles the ivories with the aplomb and dexterity reminiscent of a Crusaders-style Joe Sample, through the Latin influenced Samba Nights all the way to the poignant closing track Taking It Easy, the consistency, tone, and accomplishment on this newest creation ranks with some of the highest caliber jazz ever recorded.
And it’s a long and winding road from the 3-chord hit making that fueled 96 Tears.
With a line-up that consists of Frank Rodriguez and Robert Martinez from the original Mysterians line-up performing on the CD, Robert says that Frank has been a musical partner in writing and arranging, along with Tom Barsheff on saxophone, Rudolph Levario on percussion, Amy Lynn Balderrama (Robert’s wife) on percussion, and long time friend Jack Nash on bass guitar. Additionally, Robert’s son Nick Balderrama does duties on rhythm guitar and singer James Bradley will be featured on most of the shows. “James sings on the 2nd track, Mi Amore, and to me is one of the best entertainers & singers in the music business”, notes Robert.
Audiences will get an opportunity to catch The Robert Lee Revue in action, debuting much of this new material, at the annual Jazz on Jefferson showcase, which will be taking place on Wednesday, July 9th at Saginaw’s historic South Jefferson Avenue beginning at 5:00 PM.
In terms of developing the conception for this project, Robert affirms the influential origins. “Back in the ‘70s, George Benson came out with Masquerade and Broadway and I couldn’t believe the style of guitar playing that he was coming forth with, plus I really couldn’t understand it. But I really loved his playing. I wanted to learn his ‘smooth’ style and intonation, so I did a lot of research and started listening to Wes Montgomery, which sounded a lot like Benson,” reflects Bobby.
“After buying both artists’ albums and practicing many of their techniques, I shifted to the style of Carlos Santana, who has always been my favorite guitarist for his total originality, plus he also played jazz with many jazz players in the ‘70s. I wanted to write music that had the George Benson smooth style and fuse it with the Carlos Santana Latin influence.”
One unmistakable characteristic of Robert’s new release is the precision and fluidity of his guitar playing, leaving one to wonder whether he has always been this good at executing and building jazz riffs, or is it something he acquired a taste for over time?
“In the past I was never really good at playing this style of guitar,” he modestly admits, “but I wanted to learn it and believed I could if I did a lot of practicing, or what we call in the music world as ‘wood-shedding’ – meaning practicing without anybody around but my instrument and going over the same riffs until it became a natural part of me and my instrument. Along with Benson & Santana, Grant Green is another big influence for me. I could listen to his music all day and never get tired of it because his riffing is non-stop and funky with a solid jazz feel interwoven.”
As the songs and originality in the material on For the Love of Smooth Jazz cycle through, it appears that this type of music has been percolating within Robert for quite some time and bursting at the seams of the grooves for expressive release.
Has it been difficult being locked behind the three-chord wonders that made his experience with Question Mark such a remarkable success story for so many decades?
“When we had our hit song, 96 Tears, and traveled the country, we toured with another hit band at the time, which was The McCoys. We always had great respect for each other’s music and they had a big hit song with Hang On Sloopy. The guitarist in that band was Rick Derringer and he was also a big influence, as he was the best guitarist that I had seen in person. Watching him play my guitar in my hotel room I was impressed with the fact that he could play the Blues and then switch over to Jazz with a lot of jazz chords.
“I had never seen anybody play like him and working two different styles without one sounding like the other,” Robert continues, “so I knew that I had to learn what he knew and be able to do the same. At that time all I knew was 3 chords in a song. Question Mark & the Mysterians still do shows all over the country with all the originals, and when we play our songs I try to perform them like I did back in the day; but it is very hard because of my years of playing and working on new styles, it’s hard to go back. But I know the audience wants to hear the songs like they were recorded and I respect that so I give it my best to stick to the book.”
As for his roll-out plan for the new CD, For the Love of Smooth Jazz will be sold on the internet through itunes and amazon.com and CD Baby. Robert says that he will also be promoting the CD at live shows and has a video that was just released that can be seen on www.myspace.com/robertleerevue.
“I have a good friend who’s a DJ in Detroit and also a musician and was able to get one of our smooth jazz songs on a national talk network when they go to a break, plus they mention the band, so we are already getting exposure on about 300 stations across the country, which to me is a great start.”
“I do have a personal booking agent, Lou Hirschmann, who’s been booking The Mysterians regularly in the Tri-City club scene for a couple of years, and he’s been doing a great job for the band.”
“I’ve also been working with Kelly Milionis as part of promotion & management, and he’s been a friend since I met and recorded with Liliana Rokita on her CD. He definitely has the knowledge and experience in the music industry.”
When asked whether it is difficult to balance the various musical endeavors he involves himself in, Robert feels that each serves a niche and a need. “The Robert Lee Band is a blues group that came out in 2000 and I have always enjoyed the Blues, but it was and still is hard to break into that scene and get gigs at Blues Festivals, so we had to learn dance music to play in the area and we did.
“I could see we were transforming into a club band, which I liked because we were staying busy and could throw out a Blues song now and then when we played the clubs, especially the song written by Alvin Lee, Bluest Blues, which is always the most requested song off our Blues CD.”
“We did a revamp of Alvin’s song and I tried to make the lead different than the original song, which I like to call a ‘singing lead guitar’ style, with long bending riffs. Nothing fast, but nice melodic riffs.”
“The Mysterians will always be in the picture playing the club scene with Question Mark and doing concert shows,” he reflects. “In fact, we will be doing a show with Question Mark in late May of this year for PBS National Network for a company in Pittsburgh, PA that does a syndicated music show for PBS. I have seen their shows when the college stations do their pledge drives and this company does provide the network with most of their musical entertainment.”
“But I will always be promoting the Smooth Jazz CD and my dream is to start performing at Jazz Festivals throughout the country.”
Robert says that is took two years to do this new CD because they’ve been staying so busy performing live in the local area. “We would spend at least one day a week working on the writing and recording for Smooth Jazz. Plus we were trying to write with a Latin influence and some Urban Style Jazz. I think music has evolved with the Internet and its become more acceptable to blend many different styles that come from combinations of different music.”
What does Robert feel was the most challenging component about putting this project together? “Trying to get a professional sound that artist’s get when they go into a high-dollar studio with all the right equipment,” responds Robert. “When Question Mark & the Mysterians recorded in Bay City, Michigan at a studio that was also a room where there was a pool table, we had to move the pool table to set the amps up for recording. It’s amazing that record was the one that went to #1 on Billboard on October 22, 1966,” he laughs.
“So I felt that if we did it back then with a local studio when the technology was primitive, we could do it today with the advanced technology that people are getting great sounds from right out of their homes. I’ve been told that this new CD sounds like it was recorded in a major studio, so I am very happy with the sound of this recording.”
Having engaged in a wide range of musical styles and making a mark in the worlds of Rock ‘n Roll, Blues, and now Jazz, does Robert feel that stylistic barriers are breaking down between the various idioms; or are Rock, Blues, and Jazz audiences purists when it comes to what they want and expect to hear?
“When it comes to Smooth Jazz, there are a lot of influences from all the genres that you mention,” reflects Robert. “I feel that Smooth Jazz has a lot more coming. When I travel around the country with Question Mark, I make it a must to listen to radio stations throughout the United States, and there are some great jazz stations out there with a lot of entertainers that played other styles of music, even in the rock world. There’s this guitarist for Jefferson Starship that has performed smooth jazz with a lot of success, so I think the idiom has a long way to go because it does keep changing. The most important thing is to keep it smooth and nice to listen to.”
What is the biggest change Robert has noticed over the years in the world of popular music? Have audiences changed much from when he started, or are people basically the same in terms of what they expect from live musical entertainment?
“There have been a lot of changes in the music world, but I believe they are indirectly connected because one style might use a riff from another. We played in Kalamazoo last year with Question Mark & the Mysterians and I noticed that the venue we performed at had a lot of young adults. I met someone my own age and he remembered 96 Tears and asked me if it felt like the Sixties with all the young people hanging around waiting for autographs. I told him that yes; it did, because the kids wanted to hear our music from the Sixties and even knew the words.
“We played in London, England and the audience blew my mind because it was so crowded that some of the audience had climbed onto pillars in the building to get a glance at us. They had our albums that we did in the sixties. So I see that audiences are basically the same, especially when they want to hear songs and music like they are supposed to be recorded.”
“In fact, there’s a young band that I listen to and it’s recorded with today’s sound, yet it reminds me of when we started The Mysterians back in the early 60s. They’re called Finding Clyde and are pursuing their dream, just like I am even today with my own goals. They have the talent and I wish them the best.”
Does Robert still get excited about performing and is music something that he sees himself doing throughout the duration of his life?
“Yes, I totally enjoy performing at the local club or playing in front of thousands of people when doing gigs with Question Mark. When I quit playing with Question Mark & the Mysterians back in the late 1960s, I went back to school because everybody in my family said that I needed to have something to fall back on, so I took electronics.
“But I told myself that I would never quit playing, even when I got old. I just want to keep learning new riffs.”
45 to 90 minutes. Set list can be provided, but varies performance by performance.
SANTA CRUZ (6:16)
MI AMORE (4:04)
TO THE BRIDGE (5:03)
HOLDING ON (5:07)
TROPICAL BREEZE (5:03)
CLOSE TO ME (4:24)
SAMBA NIGHTS (5:25)
TAKING IT EASY (5:31)
also, a wide selection of covers, standards and audience requests.
***Set may also include Question Mark & the Mysterians originals: 96 Tears, Can't Get Enough Of You Baby, I Need Somebody, but at artist's discretion and agreed in advance with talent buyer/promoter.***
There are no upcoming dates at this time.