On Friday, April 25, the State Theatre in Portland will host a trio of talented musicians: guitarists supreme, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and the opening act, singer-songwriter Bobby Long. Long has a handful of albums, EPs and singles out (both self-released and commercially on ATO Records, home of his last two studio albums: “A Winter Tale” and “Wishbone”) and when you hear his music — especially his latest CD, “Wishbone” — you may find yourself struck by his skill on the guitar, his raw and honest vocal stylings, and the bluesy Americana sound he’s developed. What will surprise you is when he talks about his music, his hometown of London is very prevalent as he walks around the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was reached recently for an interview … and the discrepancy of his accents is address right up front.

Long: Yeah, it’s having listened all those years to American music — rock ‘n’ roll and blues. I think that so many English singers are brought up with listening to B.B. King and Freddie King and then rock ‘n’ roll and you want to sound like that — you try to recreate that. But in England I think people generally sound more American when they sing because … if you were to sing in an English accent it would sound kind of weird — it’s a bit straight-laced, I think — ya know?

Q: I think I do, yeah. I understand from your publicist you are working on your next album — is that correct?

Long: Yeah, yeah. I haven’t started on the recording but I’ve got most of the songs written so I’m really, really excited about it. I’ve been doing a few shows a month for the last three months trying out the songs and it’s all coming together very, very well.

Q: So you play them out before you record them.

Long: Yeah, definitely … but you don’t want to over play them because by the time you come to record them you’ve lost whatever it was that excited you. Sometimes having kind of a childish view of the song is really good because you can go into the studio and you can instinctively do something and it’s great — it’s all about the song. But with some songs you have to play them out — you mind of have to take them on a trip — wine ’em and dine ’em before you record them — because they’re not quite there yet. So playing them about 20 times in the right setting really kind of helps.


Q: When do you think you’ll release the album?

Long: Well, I’m planning on recording it in the next two months and then release it early next year or late this year … so I would say November or late January/early February, I should think.

Q: On “Wishbone” you have a full band backing you … when you play State Theatre, will you have a band with you?

Long: I’m going to be there solo — a lot of the new material is more solo-based so I’m just going to be coming up on my own, yeah, playing acoustic.

Q: Well, that will fit in quite well with what Rodrigo and Gabriela do, right?

Long: Yeah. I’ve been lucky enough to play with them a few times before and they’re really amazing — it’s always worked really well. I’m the only singer: I sing, I open and then they kind of take people away with their skill. They are really very wonderful musicians. It’s always really worked well in the show, you know?


Q: Seeing you’re on your own up on the stage, you can really go where your muse takes you — you’re not locked into a set list, right?

Long: Yeah, it’s great to be able to try new stuff out on stage and kind of set up the show as I’m going along — so I feel like, rather than keeping to a set list, I can be: “Oh, cool, I’m going to do this song right now!” There doesn’t need to be a conversation with anybody … it’s a really great situation.

Q: Have you ever played in Maine before?

Long: I have once before — I don’t remember where I played but it was great. There was really nice food and nice people so it’s a real good memory.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Long: Just really emphasize that I’m about to start recording a new record — that would be fantastic if you would do that. (www.musicbobbylong.com)

Lucky Clark has spent 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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