Pianist, vocalist and guitarist Bob Paltrow, 50, celebrates the release of his new album, "Always Here For You," accompanied by the Burning Clover Band at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at Blue Horse Gallery in Bay Street Village, 301 W. Holly St., during the monthly Downtown Art Walk.
Paltrow will open the performance with a few original piano compositions. Learn more about him at bobpaltrowmusic.com.
Question: What brought you to Bellingham?
Answer: I moved from my longtime desert home of Tucson, Ariz., to our fair city in 1992 to work for new-age music label Soundings of the Planet as their in-house graphic designer. They were based in Arizona; however their recording studio is in Bellingham. I visited for the first time in July of '92 on a working vacation, instantly fell in love with the area, culture and people, and moved here that December.
Q: What's your day job?
A: I have operated Bob Paltrow Design since 1995. I have a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona with an emphasis in graphic design and editorial illustration. The computer is a place where art, music, text and video converge as "content," and I do a little of all those things.
I started out designing for print, but as the Internet and electronic media have exploded and forever altered the ways we experience and create media, the demand for traditional print media and print designers has declined dramatically. Out of necessity, I've steadily expanded my repertoire to include web design, music and audio production, and video editing.
Q: What's your take on our musical community?
A: My soon-to-be-trademarked Bellingham-ism is "More Musicians Per Capita Than Any City In The World!" You can't walk down the street or through the woods without tripping over a great musician. Rock, folk, jazz, country, electronica, hip-hop. It is perfectly normal for your neighbor to be in a metal band, a bluegrass string quintet and a Motown cover band. There is so much creativity, camaraderie, quality in great quantity.
My new fave genre mutation is "stomp-grass" a la Polecat! Bellingham musicians support each other like nowhere else. We all go to each other's shows. We have a fantastic music community.
Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: What I will call my "principles" group of influences includes Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. I admire them as men of great faith, commitment and perseverance who ultimately triumphed to set people free from bondage and oppression; to shine a light in the dark.
My first piano teacher, Grace Oglesby, taught me for six years and really allowed me to pursue my musical tastes and helped me maximize my talent.
My first album was Linda Ronstadt's "Heart like a Wheel." I loved musicals growing up: "Fiddler on the Roof," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Godspell" and "The Sound of Music." The bands I listened to growing up in the '70s were Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Allman Brothers, The Who, Rolling Stones, The Doors, Jeff Beck and the Beatles. When I became more adept at piano, that list expanded to include Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Carole King and Rick Wakeman of Yes.
Some of the bands I like now are Foster The People, Muse, The xx, Band of Skulls, Mother Mother and the Black Keys. In general, I like artists and performers who push the creative edge in any genre or art form.
Q: How did this CD come about?
My dear friend, associate producer and fellow musician Brett Steelhammer and I have a friendship forged in music. We often share our new material to get feedback from each other. I asked Brett to listen to some new songs I was working on.
Afterward, he began barraging me with questions: "When are you going in the studio?" "How many songs on the album?" "Who's playing on your album?" On and on it went, relentlessly! We scheduled my first recording session 30 days later on Jan. 7, 2012. A year later I have a fantastic cast of friends and musicians to perform with, and an album I am very proud of in my hand!
Q: Where can people buy it?
A: It is available on iTunes, Amazon mp3, CD Baby and a host of other online outlets.
Q: What else besides music is fun in your life?
A: Whatever I'm doing is most fun with friends. I like to be physically active and enjoy hiking, exploring, playing sports, yoga and working out. I also have a passion for sculpting and 3-dimensional art. I like to make things out of found objects. I like to travel and meet people and be exposed to new ideas and new ways of seeing this beautiful world.
Reach MARGARET BIKMAN at email@example.com or 715-2273.