Monday, February 18, 2013

Anybody who ventures out regularly to catch live music inside the city limits of Austin, knows that there are more talented musicians here than corn chips in your favorite Tex-Mex joint.  The sacker at your neighborhood grocery store may well be a future Grammy winner or composer of a Top-Twenty hit.  But to be sure, attaining even a modest level of success takes a tremendous amount of hard work, persistence, and pure luck.

That’s why Bob Schneider is so impressive.  The singer / songwriter / front man extraordinaire has a track record that few, if anyone, in the Austin scene can match. He fronts wildly successful acts, creating music that bounces from funk, to rap, pop, folk, lounge, and even to bluegrass. He’s recorded dozens of records that routinely sit for months atop Waterloo Records list of best sellers; and he packs clubs, both large and small, no matter what genre he happens to be playing—and he’s been doing it at a high level for going on two decades.  If you were to consider just paid gate for his live shows and sales of his records locally, Schneider may well be a bigger deal than Willie Nelson!  To put it bluntly—he’s huge.

Beginning on Austin’s celebrated 6th Street back in the late-90s, Schneider started the whole thing with the bawdy funk/rock outfit Joe Rockhead.  As his reputation for wild, unrestrained, in-yo-face, party-hearty live shows grew, so followed the bands Ugly Americans and The Scabs, which also purvey a funky/rap, adults only, get-down-and-get-loose vibe.  All the while, he released albums at a clip of about one per year, both studio and live recordings, and they practically fly off the shelves at Waterloo Records and other Austin record stores. 

By this time, Schneider’s considerable success leads to a record deal and he goes “solo” with the album Lonely Land, a tried and true pop record that gives him significant national exposure as well as considerable positive critical acclaim.

As important to his steadily increasing fan-base is his love of the live gig.  The rule of thumb for most acts as they grow in popularity is to avoid over-exposure, especially at home.  But Schneider clearly hasn’t received this tid-bit of advice.  He plays more local shows than some

 bands manage to rehearse.  For years, his weekly Tuesday night Scabs show at Antone’s, one of Austin’s largest clubs, resembled a road show by a national act with a hit record.  College kids were known to drive in from as far away as Waco and College Station for the raucous party.

Lately, Schneider and Lonely Land have been entertaining a packed house every Monday atSaxon Pub.  But don’t think he’s sitting back in his La-Z-Boy recliner with a cold Shiner Bock waiting for next week’s gig.  Road warrior that he is, Schneider and band often trek West doing shows on the way to California where they’ll play consecutive gigs until it’s time to come back home to the Saxon.  Or maybe he’ll just keep it close and play a couple gigs in Central Texas.  Resting on his laurels just isn’t the man’s thing.

So catch Bob at the Saxon Pub or just wait for him to come to a venue near you.  Either way, you’ll get the taste of an Austin original.  Schneider’s latest record Burden of Proof is in stores now.

Photos via Flickr CC, courtesy of Thomas Hawk.

Pat Cosgrove considers himself Austin's quintessential live-music fan.  He can be foundcatching shows several nights a week at venues such as the continental Gallery and the White Horse Saloon, to name a few.  He is constantly searching for the next hot, under-the-radar act and coolest new live-music joints.  He is also a world traveler, a tequila drinker and a dancing fool.  If you see him out on the town, don't hesitate to say howdy.