Bobby Bridger
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Bobby Bridger

Houston, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1967 | INDIE

Houston, Texas, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1967
Band Americana Folk

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"Bridger performs 'Seekers of the Fleece' at Flicker"

He's a singer, songwriter, author, playwright, artist and actor, but the description that perhaps fits Texan Bobby Bridger best is balladeer.

"I started doing a one-man show in 1974," says Bridger during a recent interview from his office in Houston. "And then I got a burr under my saddle when I realized I'd created a balladeer on stage, and a balladeer doesn't belong on a stage. So I started living in the back of my truck and I played in homes, barns, kitchens, front porches - anywhere people were."

The 63-year-old Bridger, who's putting the finishing touches on his autobiography, will visit Athens on Thursday , as part of a "Mountain Man"-themed evening at the Flicker Theatre & Bar.

Also on the bill that night will be a screening of the 1972 Robert Redford film "Jeremiah Johnson," after which Bridger will perform "Seekers of the Fleece," the opening cycle of songs from a musical trilogy of the American West - titled "A Ballad of the West" - he's been perfecting for nearly 35 years.

"America and Hollywood have been telling the story of the mountain man forever," says Bridger, who is a distant relative of famed 19th century mountain man Jim Bridger. "Redford was the first to really tell the story, but his story was of the reclusive, singular mountain man. The mountain men in 'Seekers of the Fleece' couldn't be more different. They're gregarious, extremely social individuals and community builders. I'll provide a contrast to Hollywood with some educational aspects of the subject."

The Louisiana native has enjoyed a fascinating career, having collaborated with the likes of Nashville guitarist Fred Carter Jr., playwright and screenwriter Dale Wasserman ("Man of La Mancha," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), author Vine Deloria, director Joe Sears ("Greater Tuna"), actor David Carradine and American West painter Alfred Jacob Miller, who died 100 years before Bridger wrote his epic trilogy, but whose works were included in Bridger's first published work.

He has also served as artist-in-residence at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo., the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Conn., and at Yellowstone National Park. In 1995, Bridger began work on a comprehensive biography of Buffalo Bill Cody (titled "Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull"), which in 2002 received Foreword magazine's Book of the Year Award.

MULTIMEDIA

AUDIO: Listen to "Arrows of Light" by Bobby Bridger:

Bridger said his friendship with local resident Georgeanne Olive convinced him to bring his one-man show to Athens.

"I was doing some shows in eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee last fall, and Georgeanne, whom I'd met at the Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival, came up to see some of the shows and invited me to Athens," says Bridger. "So I drove down from Tellico Plains, Tenn., and just fell in love with the place. The people in Athens are so nice and special - they remind me of the people I grew up with.

"I'm interested in seeing if there's an audience there for what I do. If I can find a pulse there, I'll come back and do some other shows. If there's a heartbeat, I'll come back to fan the flames."

Although he's been performing "A Ballad of the West" for more than 30 years, Bridger says each show brings out something new.

"It's always new," he says. "I'm older every time I do it and my vocal chords have shrunk a little bit and I've got to act it out a little differently. But I've done this show for nearly 35 years, and I've done it under a painting of Lenin in Russia and I've done it for folks in Australia. I love it - it's always a thrill to play it and I'm thrilled and blessed every time I do it. It's like getting up on a high-wire with monkeys shaking the wire on either end - how are you going to do it this time, Bobby?"

Bridger adds that after his musical reading of "Seekers of the Fleece," he'll host a "question-and-comments section to fill in the blanks of this thing."

"It's pretend, and it's acted in songs, but it's all based on history," he says. "It's important to bring out the history - not the fiction, but the actual history."

In addition to his autobiography - which he began in 2003 and expects to release next year - Bridger plans to release a DVD of the full "A Ballad of the West" trilogy, featuring musical contributions from the iconic Lost Gonzo Band.

If you go...

Bobby Bridger

Performing "Seekers of the Fleece"

When: Thursday

Where: Flicker Theatre & Bar, 263 W. Washington St.

Call: (706) 546-0039

Online: www.myspace.com/flickerbar, www.bobbybridger.com - Online Athens


"Bobby Bridger to Deliver the Keynote Address at the 9th Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium, July 10-12, 2014"

Bobby Bridger, singer and songwriter, poet and story teller, author, artist and “Balladeer of the American West,” will give the Vine Deloria, Jr. Address at the Ninth Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium, July 10-12, 2014 at Northwest Indian College, Lummi Nation.

Bridger was a close friend of Vine and the two worked on numerous projects together. In addition to giving the keynote address, Bobby will also perform some of Vine’s favorite songs.

This summer’s symposium will also feature the official dedication of the Vine Deloria, Jr. Library Collection.

The purpose of the symposium itself is to bring together Native and non-native scholars, tribal elders, traditionalists, and others who are interested in carrying on the work of Professor Deloria and to introduce news ideas and expand knowledge in several key areas that Deloria devoted his life to.

The symposium itself will be organized as a series of intellectually driven panels – no workshop-type presentations, and specially invited guests speakers.

There is no set focus for this summer’s symposium and we expect presentation in the fields of law and policy, religion and spirituality, and Indigenous philosophy as it applies to the natural world.

There will be no PowerPoint of other electronic presentations allowed.

For more information on the symposium, including the submission of abstract proposals, contact :

Steve Pavlik, Co-coordinator, Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium. - Native Science at Northwest Indian College


"Bridger - University of Texas Press"

Renowned for A Ballad of the West, his epic trilogy about the American West from the era of mountain man Jim Bridger to the closing of the frontier, Bobby Bridger has had a career in show business that spans the rockabilly-to-"Music City, USA" era in Nashville, the cosmic cowboy scene in Austin, the flowering of folk music, and even Broadway theater. His multifaceted talents have found expression in singing, acting, writing, painting, and sculpting. In this engrossing account of the personal and artistic journey that led him to create a new American art form, the epic ballad, Bridger touches on almost every major musical, entertainment, and cultural movement of the second half of the twentieth century, with a cast of characters that reads like a "Who's Who" of American popular culture.
Bridger's story begins in a small town in northeast Louisiana, where he first experienced the twin attractions of painting and music. He recounts his early efforts to become a successful Nashville singer-songwriter and his growing awareness that the commercial music business would never support his evolving desire to become a historical balladeer. Bridger recalls how his interest in folk music and folk ballads fired his ambition to tell the story of the American West. He movingly describes how this dream eventually became A Ballad of the West, an epic trilogy about Jim Bridger, the Lakota Sioux, and Buffalo Bill that has taken form in an acclaimed cycle of songs, a one-man show, books, full-cast stage performances, and other media.
Included in the book is a DVD that offers songs from A Ballad of the West and a sample from the forthcoming documentary Quest of an Epic Balladeer, based on Bobby Bridger's life and work.
- See more at: http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/bribri#sthash.iUaEFS3M.dpuf - University of Texas Press


"Bobby Bridger on KPFT's Wide Open Spaces"

Roark

ON AIR
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday at 10:00 AM

DESCRIPTION
From Mellow Mondays to classic rock Fridays, showcasing non mainstream Americana roots music; independent songwriters and bands with interviews and in-studio performances. - Wide Open Spaces


"A Conversation With Singer Bobby Bridger- On Wyoming Public Radio"

WPR's Grady Kirkpatrick talked with musician, author, actor and painter Bobby Bridger about his new release Vagabond Heart. - Wyoming Public Radio


"Kickstarting the 'Vagabond Heart'"

I’ve lived my life with a vagabond’s heart.
— Bobby Bridger, “Stages”

Bobby Bridger — Vagabond HeartBobby Bridger releases his first new studio album in over a dozen years today thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign to support Vagabond Heart.

I’ve talked about crowdfunding before, so you know I’m a supporter — not just in spirit, but in pledging my funds to recording artists and filmmakers particularly: Uranium Savages, New Monsoon, When We Were Live, and The Tower, among others. One of the bigger pledges I’ve made was for Bobby Bridger’s album.

See, I’ve been a Bobby Bridger fan since the 70s when he showed up at one of my RTF classes to talk about the process of audio production. All us young wannabe creators knew the basics of multi-track recording and layering sounds, but few had ever heard someone talk about the actual process. By this time, Bobby was a recording veteran with several singles and an album already to his name.

Bobby Bridger — And I Wanted to Sing for the PeopleHe played us some partial tracks he had used to build his song, “The Sculpture,” which appeared on his 1973 album, And I Wanted to Sing for the People, explaining the recording sequence and choice of instruments and how they were mixed.

Of course I went out and bought the album. Unfortunately, I was one of the few who did — this album fell victim to lackluster promotion by a belt-tightening record company.

Still, it served to hook me on Bobby’s music, and I became a forever fan. Later, I would hear him perform at the Kerrville Folk Festival, where his beautiful song, “Heal in the Wisdom” became the official festival anthem years ago, closing out each year’s festival with a heartfelt crowd sing-along.

No simple minstrel, though, Bobby decided to craft an epic song cycle, and so began work on his historical saga, A Ballad of the West, a musical re-telling of the exploration and settlement of the American West in the 19th Century.

Bobby Bridger in wolf-head costumeI remember seeing him perform the first part of that saga, Seekers of the Fleece, in the old Chicago House coffeehouse. Wearing a wolf-head mask he personally had made, he sang of the early explorers of the West, the mountain men, like Bobby’s distant relative, Jim Bridger.

Later, he would complete the trilogy with a second section, Pahaska, telling of “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and and a final section, Lakota, telling the spoken stories John C. Neihardt captured in Black Elk Speaks through Bobby’s songs.

Eventually, Ballad of the West would be mounted as a theatrical production at Ft. Bridger, Wyoming, where it was performed for over 30 years. After a final performance on July 4, 2011, Bobby donated his costumes and related memorabilia to the Fort Bridger Historical Association.

Buffalo Bill & Sitting Bull: Inventing the Wild West by Bobby BridgerBobby also wrote an excellent history of some of the events of this time in his book, Buffalo Bill & Sitting Bull: Inventing the American West, making the case that Cody aided the Indians in avoiding assimilation and helped them protect and maintain at least part of their way of life.

Now, however, despite his lengthy musical career and many honors, Bobby has been bypassed by the modern music industry.

Traditional industry gatekeepers remain befuddled about how to adapt to the internet age, ignoring a number of proven artists and performers.

That’s where crowdfunding can help out. Bypassing the gatekeepers and asking fans and supporters to fund a project allows artists to produce more freely.

For Vagabond Heart, Bobby set an ambitious goal for a crowdfunding campaign: $30,000. He explained this would not only fund the entire production, but also allow for post-production promotion. “A lot of these projects end up ‘million sellers’,” Bobby’s friend and producer, John Inmon quipped. “They end up with a million copies in their cellar.”

They also worked with a crowdfunding campaign coordinator, Erin Galey, herself a veteran of crowd funding film success (Brave Girl). Erin helped guide them though the entire process from initial proposal to promo video to establishing premiums for people pledging support to running the campaign itself.

One of the premium packages featured a special get-together with Bobby and John Inmon during the fund-raising campaign for people making larger pledges. They used this time to tell us more about the Kickstarter campaign, the upcoming production process, and, of course, to share some songs with us, including this work-in-progress.



Every crowdfunded campaign is a tough push and when you’ve set goals high enough to cover all your expenses, including promotion, it gets even tougher. Erin videoconferenced into the meeting to enlist our aid in raising the final funds needed before the end of the drive.

So, during the closing days of the Vagabond Heart campaign, I posted repeated plugs on social media to help get the word out. Those last days and hours can seem harrowing as you try to close the gap, knowing that if you fall short, the project will not be funded at all.

Maybe that final push by donors helped push it over the top. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know what impact that actually had on the final tally and that’s fine. We made it — that’s the important thing.

And that is precisely the feeling: “We made it.”

Now, I get to walk along with Bobby Bridger’s Vagabond Heart further down the road. - Buller's Back Porch


"Austin Legends Tour"

Austin Legends: Bob Livingston, John Inmon and Bobby Bridger
Livingston solo: 7-10 p.m. Friday, Kent Walker Artisan Cheese, 323 S. Cross St., Little Rock
Admission: Free
(501) 301-4963
kentwalkercheese.com
Full lineup: 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Frisco Station-Main Stage, Main Street Rogers Oktoberfest, Rogers
Admission: Free
(479) 936-5487
mainstreetrogers.com
Full lineup: 3-6 p.m. Sunday, Ozark Beer Co., 1700 S. First St., Rogers
Admission: Free
(479) 636-2337
ozarkbeercompany.com
Musical legends in Texas are not hard to find, but rounding up two or three of them and getting them to visit Arkansas is not always that easy.

Austin Legends: Bob Livingston, John Inmon and Bobby Bridger

Livingston solo: 7-10 p.m. Friday, Kent Walker Artisan Cheese, 323 S. Cross St., Little Rock

Admission: Free

(501) 301-4963

kentwalkercheese.com

Full lineup: 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Frisco Station-Main Stage, Main Street Rogers Oktoberfest, Rogers

Admission: Free

(479) 936-5487

mainstreetrogers.com

Full lineup: 3-6 p.m. Sunday, Ozark Beer Co., 1700 S. First St., Rogers

Admission: Free

(479) 636-2337

ozarkbeercompany.com

This story is only available from the Arkansas Online archives. Stories can be purchased individually for $2.95. Click here to search for this story in the archives.

Print Headline: Texan Livingston crosses border for LR show - Arkansas Online


Discography


Albums

Bridger Songs on other compact discs (publishing)

  • Rendezvous, the Lost Gonzo Band, 1991
  • Amazing Records (Title song:Rendezvous);
  • Hands of Time, the Lost Gonzo Band, 1995,
  • Vireo Records (Free My Spirit, 'Fore My Spirit's Dead);
  • Dave Gershen Firetender album,Arrows of Light, 1994, Provision Records
  • Bob Livingston: Mahatma Gandhi & Sitting Bull; 2003 Vireo Records
  • (Title Song: Mahatma Gandhi and Sitting Bull,and, Cowboys and Indians

Anthologies 

  • The Austin Connection: Music For Miracles
    featuring: Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, Marcia Ball, Joe Ely, TimbukThree, Poi Dog Pondering, Tish Hinojosa, Asleep At The Wheel, Omar and the Howlers, Charlie Sexton, The Killer Bees and Jerry Jeff Walker
  • The Songs of Wyoming (The Wyoming Centennial Record Project) 
    featuring: Chris LeDoux, Bill Larsen, Billy Bob Shane, The Grizzlies, Shelley and Kelly, Brent Moyer, Pete Cameron, Bruce Hauser and Sawmill Creek, BabeHumphrey and the Bar J Wranglers, Bill Briggs and the Stagecoach Band, and Kip Attaway
  • The Texas Christmas Collection
    featuring: Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, B. J. Thomas, B. W. Stevenson,Erik Johnson, 14K, Julie Christensen, Arthur Brown, Pressure, Beto and the Fairlanes, Steven Fromholtz, Rusty Weir, Marcia Ball, and Karen Kraft
  • Kerrville Folk Festival - The Early Years 

Photos

Bio

Bobby Bridger began his professional recording career in 1967 in Nashville with Monument and Nugget Records. In 1970 Bridger signed with RCA Records in Hollywood and recorded two albums of original material (Merging of Our Minds, and And I Wanted to Sing for the People) before parting ways with RCA in 1973. Bridger launched his own Golden Egg Records in 1980 and produced and released Heal in the Wisdom (1981), the four-disc boxed set, A Ballad of the West (2000), Songs from A Ballad of the West (2003), and Bridger's seventh studio album and current release, Vagabond Heart (2015).