Interviews

 


March 19, 2017

Buck was one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever known — a second father to me in so many ways. What inspired me to travel the country with him and write a book about him was his indomitable optimism about life and the world. Few had more of an excuse to feel some bitterness. He was a fine player in the Negro Leagues — but he should have gotten a shot to play in the Majors. He was a fantastic manager in the Negro Leagues — but he should have been hired to manage in the Majors. He was a wonderful big league scout — signing, among others, Ernie Banks and Lou Brock and Joe Carter and Lee Smith. He was the first African American coach in major league history. He was baseball’s greatest story teller, keeping alive the memories of all those great Negro Leaguers who people never got to see play.

 


November 3, 2016
There is a huge market for erotic writing that goes from the straight out pornography to literary work and I’d like to think my work is more on the literary side. I’ve always published under my own name and not kept it a secret but, on the other hand, don’t exactly broadcast it around the workplace or tell my nanna.
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted November 5, 2004

 


September 19, 2016

When I was a little kid I had this cousin (Wim) from Holland come stay with my family for an extended period of time. He had long hair, bellbottoms and wildly colored shirts. No idea where it came from but there was this old beat up acoustic guitar that had been laying around our house forever. He picked it up, tuned it, and began to play. The song was “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel. That was a true “God wink” moment for me!

 


July 27, 2016

I need to be intrigued by something. Needs to get my creative juices going. I am an ‘artiste’ to the Nth degree. I love to write songs, books, poetry. I love to perform. I love to do my radio shows. I love to act.

In fact, I ‘love’ entertaining people in whatever guise it takes.

 


April 23, 2016

I was a working radio guy, with a beard and long curly hair. It just happened that some folks thought I sounded like Roy. Someone I knew had a backyard barbecue and engaged a karaoke DJ. While I was singing, I think it was “Crying”, a late arriving guest who happened to be an Elvis act showed up at the shindig. When I was through, he came straight over and said he was looking for openers for his shows. He did say, however, that he could not imagine how I would ever get “the look”. A razor, a bit of hair dye and a pair of Ray-bans convinced us all that it was possible.

 


March 4, 2016

I’ve recently added Taylor Swift to my list of artists that I impersonate. It really has been fun to impersonate her! I enjoy the fact that we both have long, skinny arms and similar body types, and it’s fun to be awkward on stage like her! With Taylor I can wear anything of hers and feel confident that I am portraying the correct image and body type.

 


January 19, 2016

It’s hard to answer this because just reading the question made the inside of my head go a bit screamy. I guess the most noteworthy challenge is that I will do a LOT of stuff to get out of doing any work at all. I recently read a quote from Mindy Kaling in which she said she probably does about one hour’s work to every seven hours of messing about and I think that may be about the same for me… on a good day. So my biggest challenge is getting out of my own way and getting the work done. At every stage.

 


December 1, 2015

Two years into my seven-year stretch as an undergrad, I landed a job as a copyboy at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. The moment I stepped into the newsroom (which was straight out of “The Front Page” - reporters and editors banging away on typewriters, cradling phones on their shoulders, and yelling across a sea of army-surplus desks piled with paper and coffee cups, a thick stratum of cigarette smoke overhead) I had an overpowering sense that I had arrived where I was supposed to be. The editors gave me a reporting internship the following summer, which was my first real writing job.

 


March 8, 2015

People seeing a show from an impersonator are looking for the hits. And if you only have ten to fifteen minutes, you have to go to them and fit in as many as you can. So I do look at what songs were the first hits for a performer, and research which songs were number one the longest or went the highest on the charts. Still, there is more to it. You want to think about the order of the songs. You want to be aware of the audience, who you might be working with, and all of the other details from the costumes to the stage.

 


March 1, 2015

Live performing is the most difficult of disciplines as you are not allowed the luxury of relying on recordings you made, film or TV tapings that exist or anything else that archives your accomplishments. You are required to prove yourself all over again each and every time you set foot on a stage. No one in the audience cares a fig about your wonderful performance last night or the great show you will give three weeks from now. This is a singular one show at a time job, and every night you have to win over a new group of folks.

 


July 10, 2014

In my opinion, Justin Timberlake is the most talented guy on the planet so those are some tough shoes to fill. The fact that he is a living performer who is still very much active in the business also makes it a tough challenge to deliver a great performance. The voice was the easy part for me. The dancing was the hard part. I can’t dance exactly like Justin Timberlake but I certainly capture some of the iconic choreography that he has done throughout the years. My biggest goal was to be able to mimic the movements and mannerism and facial expressions. I feel like I have done a great job at bringing those to life on the Legends stage.

 


April 12, 2014

In this business, there has to be a certain amount of understanding about what you’re getting into. No one gets perfect reviews on every project. And there is going to be an increased spotlight on things. I just want to do the best I can, appreciate and respect those that assist and support me, and as I said, always be a bit better tomorrow than I am today.

 


March 19, 2013

I can tell people, quite honestly, that I’m an actress. It’s not simply me singing Celine’s songs. I’m supposed to be delivering a tribute of Celine, which includes creating as closely as I can her voice, stage presence, physical appearance, and so much more. Also, everything behind the scenes is our responsibility. I do my own makeup and hair, and have to find my own costumes. And that’s an amazing and strange part of it as well, because you learn so much along the way to do things better or faster. No one else is doing that for you.

 


March 11, 2013

When I auditioned for America’s Got Talent, I was brought into this room with some of the production crew. You don’t immediately go on the big stage and audition for the three judges. There are some phases before that. So there I am with Emma, standing maybe ten feet or so away from the group, and we do “At Last.” One of the people at the table looked at me and said, “That’s very nice, but you’re not allowed to use microphones and recordings.”

 


March 31, 2012

The first time my wife and I met was during the period where I was singing as others and DJing. That first night she listened to me perform Engelbert Humperdinck, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra and a few others. She later confessed that during the first few weeks of dating she was determined to learn how the “trick microphone” worked because she didn’t believe that any one singer could sound “so much like all those great singers.” We still laugh about that trick microphone.

 


March 28, 2012

I’d love to own authentic models of some of his guitars, but I don’t think I’d use them on stage that often if I did have them. Maybe at a one-night event with the most hard-core of Elvis fans. The truth is, if you could see the back of that guitar, you’d probably be stunned by how beat up it is. Those belts do not treat guitars kindly. The thing is, I know I don’t look exactly like Elvis. I don’t think anyone really does. And what that means is I have to do all of the little things I can to create an illusion. I’ve got nine different jumpsuits. I’ve got the guitar and the decal on it. Put a live band out there with me, and all of it sets the atmosphere up just right. Everything I can do helps. There are three elements any tribute artist has to get right, and those are the look, the voice and the stage presence. And for Elvis it’s even tougher, because he is so identifiable in each of those areas.

 


March 27, 2012

And that’s really the joy of a great band. Even today, just like then. It’s not the same every night, and I don’t think good music is supposed to be exactly the same every night. Let them play. I love listening to them. To the piano, the sax, the trombone. I love seeing them take some room in the middle of the songs and explore it, fill it in, and bring it together. That’s real talent at work, it makes for a great show, and it’s exciting to be a part of it. I know it’s made me a better singer.

 


March 19, 2012

It’s funny, because you’re wondering if it’s hard to perform as someone else, but I actually find it to be easier. Shania scared me when I began working with her material. As you mention, my normal voice is much closer to how she normally sings, and I never wear a wig as Shania.

It comes back to confidence I suppose, and the acting as another person is a part of it. If we tried to dig deep we might find some connection, that in the same way I wanted people to turn around on the school bus I enjoyed a bit of the extra layer brought about by changing my voice and putting on a wig or costume.

 


November 10, 2011
I absolutely hated the Epilogue. In fact… “hated” isn’t a strong enough word. I think the Harry Potter legacy is weaker for it being there. My basic feeling is that it gives us absolutely nothing new. If the book had ended fifteen pages earlier, and you had asked people that read the books what happened next, just about every one of them would have included the basics… Harry with Ginny… Ron with Hermione… their children going to Hogwarts… blah… blah… blah. Heck, most would have some uncomfortable moments for Harry and Draco! Maybe Rowling was trying to block off someone else coming along and trying to take over the tale (now she’s told us that everything was fine for years after Voldemort was killed, so no one should be plotting a work of their own about his return). Perhaps she was giving in to some emotional feeling (if she didn’t write that Harry and Ginny had children, then they didn’t… must be written to be true, so she did). Maybe it was just to offer a rapid-fire finish to where everyone went. Whatever. I have read that she had a more detailed version of the chapter written, but she felt like it contained way too much. I can understand that too. But… trying to bring this around to a question… my point is that I felt let down by it. I wish I had skipped it. After navigating the waters very impressively to bring this behemoth of a story around to a satisfying conclusion, for me she let go of her focus. How do you feel about the Epilogue?
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted June 2, 2008

 


November 10, 2011
My favorite book so far is book 1. This is the book that got me hooked and left me wanting more. There was some really great fantasy and imagination entwined in this book from the characters to the buildings. I loved the school and all its occupants from the ghosts to the caretaker to the sorting hat. The Weasleys were a fun family and you just loved to hate Draco Malfoy.
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted November 20, 2005

 


March 24, 2011

I immediately starting relating to the instrument as a melodic instrument as opposed to an instrument only concerned with the foundation of the music. I later got more of the idea that the instrument is also extremely rhythmic and connected to the drums as well. Putting the two together was a revelation and growing up on a healthy dosage of Latin Salsa music, rhythm was inherited through my family and our culture. (Another reason for choosing the trumpet as a youngster.) So, even if you don’t start off playing horn first, I think it is good advice to study horn players no matter what instrument you play. Melodically, the horn players have so much information to offer as a single line instrument.

 


October 1, 2009

It’s funny, because right now I have several songs written that are just instrumental pieces. I don’t know if they’re instrumental pieces or not though. You know what I mean? They’re completed as far as the music, but I’m not sure they’re finished. They simply don’t have any lyrics right now. I do find it’s important to have something to start with though, some hook of a melody. Gives me something to hang my hat on and I can write a lyric after that. I will say that for me, I think the music and how it feels is the most important part of the song. No lyric, no matter how good it is, is going to save it if the music is bad and it feels wrong.

 


September 24, 2009
The people that have been the least enthusiastic about my songs are the Boston fans when I wrote the “Shady Brady” song. I received many, many emails from them making sure I had a “day job”… and those were the nice ones! I also received a lot of negative emails from Kentucky fans earlier this year when I wrote a song describing how awful they were doing at the start of the season. I had written nothing but positive songs about Kentucky before so people didn’t appreciate me “turning on the team”, although I didn’t see it that way. I was just being honest. For the most part, though, I have received much more positive email regarding the songs than negative… even from Boston fans.
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 2, 2008

 


September 20, 2009
Whenever I write about the smallest, tiniest detail, it’s a way of checking out whether I’m the only one who has experienced these things/felt these things.  The answer is almost always “no.”  I am one of many. This establishes an instant connection for me with people that I’d not be able to connect with otherwise, as my abilities at small talk are not as polished as I would like them to be.
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted June 1, 2006

 


March 19, 2009
Most journalists “look” for book ideas because, well, we like the idea of writing books, and also like the idea of fantasizing about a best-seller. But unless you have the words “Harry'” and “Potter” in your title, it’s unlikely you’re going to make much money off a book. If you spent the same amount of hours at a job where you say, “Do you want fries with that” you’d often make more money.
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted July 9, 2006

 


February 24, 2009
Years ago, if you had asked, I would have immediately told you I had no desire to look into television. Then about six or seven years ago, the Craft brand began to consider reaching out beyond New York. I still can recall in season one of Top Chef we were getting feedback like “Who’s Colicchio?” and comments about how they had never seen me on the Food Network.

 


February 9, 2009
They had the script for Leather for a long time… couldn’t find the girl.  She had to be tough/vulnerable, and could sing and act. The casting lady went into her daughter’s bedroom and saw my picture on the cover of Rolling Stone and went crazy. I got a call while on tour in Japan to fly to America and audition. Never heard of the show, as it hadn’t reached England yet. Wore my leathers of course (Garry Marshall thought I dressed in the part!)… and got the part… which turned into 3 years.
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 10, 2008

 


January 5, 2009
One of the fun things is showing people that it isn’t just the gear. People will say things like “look at the equipment you get to use” as if that’s what it’s all about. So we’ll set up the full rig and say “ok, here’s the gear, show us.” Music is internal as much as external. It’s the phrasing and the tone… a complete package.
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted April 5, 2006

 

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com