Bob Paltrow is a classically trained pianist, singer-songwriter, composer and producer whose eclectic style of music could best be described as modern-retro pop rock.
With a knack for catchy hooks and lyrics; dynamic arrangements and a wry sense of humor, Paltrow blends together a broad pastiche of styles: rock, blues, classical, folk, ragtime, gospel, hip-hop, celtic, middle-eastern, funk and jazz. There is an unlikely confluence of musical undertones reminiscent of Broadway musicals; traveling carnivals and roaming gypsies; children’s nursery rhymes and terminators; monsters under the bed and the Dalai Lama. The common thread being: fun.
Bob’s music has at various times been compared to Neil Young; Foster the People; Red Hot Chili Peppers; Beach Boys; Led Zeppelin; U2 and Elton John and Stephen Schwartz (Broadway musical composer of Godspell, Pippin and Wicked).
Paltrow is also widely known for his unique, neoclassical style of acoustic piano performance and composition embellished with an improvisational flair that makes every live performancee as unique as each passing moment in life.
Bob’s produced several original music recordings, including:
- ALWAYS HERE FOR YOU (2013) – Bob Paltrow and Burning Clover; modern rock
- LUCKY (2010) – solo piano (instrumental; neoclassical)
- P.O.T. LIVE @NORTHSHORE TERRACE (2007) by The Patriots of Tomorrow; modern rock
- CAROUSEL (2002) – solo piano (instrumental; neoclassical)
In January of 2012, Paltrow launched a recording project, his latest release “Always Here For You,” an album of catchy modern-retro pop rock released on December 12th, 2012: 12-12-12. Featuring The Burning Clover Band with multi-instrumentalist Jeffrei Willson on lead guitar, bass, keyboards and drums; Brett Steelhammer and Blake Cisneros sharing drum duties; Kelly Grotke on vocals; Chuck Kitterman on percussion and Phil Heaven on electric viola. The album features two sparkling lead guitar cameos – one by Scott Greene on the title track “Always Here for You,” as well as longtime musical collaborator Cheri Nunamaker bending strings on “Heavenly Body.”
Always Here For You” is fun, positive, rocking and danceable, and marks s a dramatic departure from his previous band, the fiery politico rockers Patriots of Tomorrow. Featuring Cheri Nunamaker on electric guitar; Bill Sterling on bass; and Chuck Kitterman on drums, The Patriots performed a rock-pop hybrid of songs themed around political and social issues, albeit with Paltrow’s trademark cheeky humor and provocative lyrics.
As much a fan of music as he is a performer, Paltrow’s influences are unabashedly evident and permeate his material in myriad ways. Bob says, “Growing up in the ’60’s and ’70’s, I of course listened to a lot of Beatles, Doors, Hendrix, Joni Michell, CSNY, Joplin – basically, Woodstock – my parents introduced me to that mid-to-late ’60’s golden era of music. After I really started playing piano in themid ’70’s to mid-80’s, I was listening to a lot of Zeppelin, Stones, Elton, Bowie, Yes, Rick Wakeman, Rush, Van Halen, Sabbath, Ozzy, Cars, Missing Persons – I liked rock and new wave and punk. A lot of metal, actually! But also, a lot of the jazz stuff: Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Al DiMeola, John Mclaughlin- some of the crossover fusion stuff especially Jeff Beck.”
“I was a big fan of musicals, especially Fiddler on the Roof, Sound of Music, Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. Those were my favorites, but my parents were also very into Broadway and we lived in New York when I was a child, so I saw a good amount of world class live theatre, opera and musicals. I was a big fan of Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the music for Godspell
“I think there is a lot great music being made today, and I am only aware of a sliver of what’s out there. I like Muse, Foster the People, The XX, Band of Skulls, Black Keys. Any of Jack White’s projects. Going back a little, I liked PJ Harvey, Nirvana, Alice in Chains – I liked the grunge movement when it was happening, but it was definitely ‘of its time. I feel like the general depressiveness of that music mitigates its longevity somewhat. A lot of grunge is simply a grungy bummer, although that can be cathartic.”
“I like the current of minimalism in modern rock especially. I like reducing the clutter, creating space for atmosphere and emotion, and focusing on the beat and melody leads to good music being made.”
“When the whole landscape of music retail seismic-shifted from physical media to digital, that shifted the emphasis from concept album to digital single downloads. The marketing question becomes ‘What’s the hot thing of the moment in the age of millisecond attention spans?’ A lot of people, myself included, lamented the loss of the album you could hold— and the 50 – 60 minutes of songs woven together like chapters in a book.”
“But I think what has happened, and what I have learned to embrace, is it puts more emphasis on writing a good song. As a songwriter, there’s a little more pressure to keep pumping out “A” songs. On an album, you can often piggy-back a couple of “B” grade songs along with your “A-listers.” As an artist, I like that pressure. Its just another thing to motivate ones self to really put it out there creatively.”
About growing up with music:
“I grew up in a musical family. I think it was prerequisite on my dad’s side of the family to play piano – everybody did: my dad, his 3 siblings, grandparents, many of my cousins. My father received his Bachelors from Ithaca College, majoring in music education. When I was 10, I began taking lessons and studied with a wonderful Scottish woman – Grace Oglesby – from age 10 to 15. She was able to motivate me and nurture and cultivate my talent at a time when I was beyond rebellious as an early teen. The piano was always an anchor for me. Still is. When I moved to Tucson Arizona in the middle of my sophomore in highschool, I studied with local jazz great Mickey Greco for one year. Beyond teaching me how to play, Mickey taught me how to listen to music – to listen, and respond – to give and take and flow with the music. After highschool, I enrolled at the University of Arizona, majoring in piano performance for one year, but the program wasn’t for me. I dropped out of the music program, and migrated to the art department where I received an Bachelor of Arts, majoring in design and illustration.”
“Perhaps not coincidentally, after graduating college, I got a job at New Age music label Soundings of the Planet – as their in-house designer. I would spend much of the next 12 years of so focused on design, marketing and promotion for Soundings which was – and still is – a very successful independent label that rode the crest of the New Age music movement in the middle ’90’s. I learned a lot about the industry: distribution and advertising; marketing and industry politics; audio production. And from Soundings, I learned about conscious business practices and community and ethics. And how those things are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It was a great learning experience working at Soundings, and one that helped propel my musical career in many ways that did not actually involve making music.”
Prior to Bob Paltrow & Burning Clover, and The Patriots of Tomorrow, Paltrow honed his musical chops performing with a variety of musical ensembles in the Pacific Northwest, including:
- AKARAKA, a popular folk-fusion band fronted by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Burke Mulvany, and featuring Jason Darling on percussion; Phil Heaven on viola; Sara Hall, Melissa McConnell and Jamesa Noelle on hand drums (mid-late 1990’s)
- LAND OF MU ~ avant-garde Afro-Cuban trance-dance-jazz percussion group that was a staple of the then-flourishing hippy-jam improvisational scene in Bellingham during the late ‘1990’s / early 2000’s
- YOUR HIGHNESS ~ All-women rock band (plus 2 token male members – pun intended) playing mostly original tunes plus covers by PJ Harvey, Led Zeppelin, Heart and others. (early-mid 2000’s)
- HATHORAKISSA ~ Bellydance troupe that at the time was the 2nd largest group of Middle-Eastern dancers and live musicians in Washington (late 90’s)
- PAUL BRETING AND THE BAILOUT ~ modern-folk-rock trio (late 2000’s)
- VOICE OF THE VILLAGE ~ World-music folk group playing music from many traditions (early 1990’s)
- THE CRAIG OLSON BAND ~ Singer-songwriter, all-original 4-piece folk rock (late 1990’s/early 2000’s)
BOB TODAY – BOB TOMORROW
Bob resides in Bellingham Washington, where he has operated Bob Paltrow Design, producing award-winning graphic design, illustration and web design for a variety of clients locally, nationally and internationally since 1994. Among his many fabulous clients, Paltrow has created over 60 album covers and cd designs for award-winning New Age music label Soundings of the Planet, founded by one of the founding fathers of ambient New Age music flautist Dean Evenson and his amazon wife Dudley Evenson.
Having just completed his latest album “Always Here For You,” Paltrow is looking forward to promoting his music, with an eye towards licensing for commercial use. In the longer term, some of his aspirations include producing original musicals and collaborating on live musical theatre driven by compelling narratives and story-telling.
In the near term (and pretty much every day!) Bob is looking forward to writing new songs, playing and performing lots of live music with friends, and entertaining people with good music and good cheer.