Bob Schneider has been making music for a long time. And yet, you’ll be hard pressed to nail him down to a genre.
The prolific Austin-based musician plays acoustic-based music, whether that’s some form of rock, folk, country, pop or whatever other sound he picks up along the way. And whatever that sound is, people like it — he has won more than 50 Austin Music Awards since 1992, including being named Musician of the Year multiple years.
We checked in with Schneider via email to find out more about his hometown, his music and his growth as a person and musician before he headlines Friday night’s concert at Rendezvous in the Park in Moscow:
360: You’ve been part of the Austin music scene since the ’90’s. What’s that been like?
Schneider: Austin is a liberal oasis in the middle of Texas. Pretty much anything goes in Austin. I mean, the motto of the town is “Keep Austin weird” — I think that says it all. It’s pretty much allowed me to do whatever I want to do in terms of genre and musical approach. You’ve got everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughan, to Willie Nelson, to the Butthole Surfers and everything in between coming out of Austin. There’s a certain musical aesthetic in Austin that favors art over commerce, and I think that comes through in the people that have stayed in Austin over the years instead of gravitating towards music industry towns, like Los Angeles or Nashville.
360: You’ve been making music for a long time. How do you keep things fresh and new?
Schneider: I love what I do, and I don’t ever rest on my laurels. Because of that, I am constantly writing new material. Well, maybe not constantly, but I make myself write at least one new song a week, so I have new material to incorporate into my sets. I told myself early on that I would never play in a “cover” band, and that sort of includes being in a “Bob Schneider cover band.” When people come see me play, they may be familiar with only 25 or 30 percent of the set because I’m always playing new stuff when I go out on tour. I’ve lost some fans because I won’t necessarily play the material that I was playing five years ago or even two years ago. I think of music like bread, it gets stale after a while. You have to have new material to keep the shows fun and interesting.
360: You recently released, “Blood and Bones,” your seventh studio album since your solo debut. What excites you about this album? What’s different about it?
Schneider: Most of the songs are about this new relationship I have with my wife and daughter. There’s a lot of love in our home, and it comes through on the album. It’s also about getting older as well, and letting go of the younger me that was single and trying to hook up and that sort of thing. Before, I was writing a lot of songs about hooking up with women, and now I’m writing songs about taking care of a woman. It’s a much more adult, and less selfish sort of approach to the subject.
360: As you write from this more adult perspective, what’s the response from younger audiences?
Schneider: I think the things I write about are pretty universal, but younger audiences won’t fully appreciate some of things I’m talking about until they have kids of their own or start getting grey hair and that sort of thing. The thing about young audiences is, they are getting older every day, just like everyone else.
360: What are some things you hope someone might come away with after one of your performances?
Schneider: My goal is to always entertain my audience. The world is scary and chaotic and can really weigh you down. The last thing I want to do is add to that. I try to make sure that while they are watching the show, they can leave that stuff at the door and have some fun, and get caught up in the show. Some of the songs are pretty heavy, but the hope is that the audience will relate to the songs in a way that will make them feel less alone, and maybe give them a perspective that might help them in some way.
360: A day in the life of a musician must vary pretty widely. Describe what a good day might look like.
Schneider: You have a lot of free time as a musician. Good days and bad days usually don’t have much to do with what you do, it’s more of what side of the bed you wake up on. I’m not manic depressive, but I definitely have days when I wake up and everything’s OK, and then there are days that look just the same from every angle, but I’m as despondent as I’ve ever been and I don’t know if I can even get through the day. The good thing about having been around the block a few times is you know that all of these feelings will pass and you can get through it, and you can even embrace it in a weird way and be grateful to have the opportunity to experience it at all.
Rendezvous in the Park Band Line-up
The funk- and soul-infused, basement-born band Dirty Revival has made a name for itself in its hometown of Portland and in the Pacific Northwest music scene. Led vocally by Sarah Clarke, the group has shared the stage with George Clinton, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Slick Rick and the Nappy Roots.
Del Valle formed years ago in Moscow. Its members, Ian Mullin, Alaina Mullin, Nevada Sowle, Cooper Trail and Ben Morris, have played together since high school. Now living in different states around the country, the five return to Moscow to play reunion shows a couple of times a year.
The Colfax band Tone Sober is a classic rock group known for lively shows and for drawing rambunctious crowds. Influences include Lynyrd Skynyrd, Guns and Roses and the White Stripes.
An Austin, Texas musical legend in his own rights (see story above).
Rust on the Rails
Individual members of Seattle’s Rust on the Rails have made names for themselves both nationally and internationally, including Cody Beebe, leader of Cody Beebe & the Crooks; and Australian-born Blake Noble, whose percussive guitar and didgeridoo brings a worldly flair to the band’s Northwest-influenced Americana sound.
This four-piece string band based out of Moscow and Pullman plays a hard-driving mix of bluegrass and acoustic music.
Formed in Nashville, Waker plays an electrified blend of rock, soul and funk with a wide range of instruments including acoustic and electric guitar, drums, keyboards, percussion and even some saxophone. The band has performed on big festival stages such as South by Southwest, Firefly and Bonnaroo.
Named after a farm-equipment company, Massy Ferguson is a Seattle-based alt rock band firmly grounded in classic Americana. Influences include Uncle Tupelo, the Jayhawks and the Backsliders, along with 1970s Southern rock and classic rock.
Will Fontaine and the Vital Signs
A Moscow band playing a blend of genres including funk, rock and folk music. Will Fontaine and the Vital Signs have performed locally at the Moscow Renaissance fair, Etsi Bravo and One World Cafe. Their music is described as inspirational while also confronting real world issues.
— Tyler Horner and Jennifer K. Bauer
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Rendezvous in the Park
WHEN: Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Music at 5:30.
WHERE: East City Park, 904 E. First St., Moscow.
COST: $25 each night, $15 ages 13-18 and students with valid ID, free for children 12 and under. A festival pass for all three nights is $50. Tickets are available at BookPeople of Moscow and online at www.rendezvousinthepark.com.
OF NOTE: Seating is on the lawn. People can bring blankets and chairs. Beer and wine will be for sale. No outside alcohol or pets allowed. Photography, audio and video recordings are prohibited.