Bob Livingston (www.reverbnation.com/boblivingston or www.texasmusic.org ) is based now in Austin. He is a singer-songwriter, bass player, and a founding member of The Lost Gonzo Band. Livingston was a key figure instigating the cosmic cowboy, progressive country, and outlaw country music movements that distinguished the Austin, TX music scene in the 1970s. Over the years, Bob Livingston has gained a reputation as a band leader, solo artist, session musician and sideman. He has toured without stop for 42 years, and is one of the most experienced and recorded musicians in all of Texas music. The list of musicians he has toured with and pplayed on recordings with is like a Who’s Who of music, and includes Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Martin Murphey, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Gary P. Nunn, Pat Green, Steven Fromholtz, Butch Hancock, Cory Morrow, Owen Temple, Larry Joe Taylor, Chris Wall, and many others. He’s released 8 solo albums, and the latest, “Gypsy Alibi”, won a Texas Music Award this year as Best Album of 2011. Bob answered 10 questions for me.
Who are your songwriting influences?
I grew up listening to Tennessee Ernie Ford, the Everly Brothers and bands like that. I don’t know who was writing their songs, but was influenced by the music. The other people who had an influence on me includes Elvis, Bob Dylan, and Buddy Holly.
When and where was your first public performance?
When I was about 12-13 years old, I played a private party. It was just me and my guitar playing songs, and I was paid $5. It was a good day’s pay back then.
What was the first record or cd you purchased with your own money?
My brother was a musician and guitar teacher, so he always had records around. I think the first one I actually purchased was one of the early Beatles albums.
What was the first live concert you attended?
Not counting seeing my brother play, or attending high school shows, I saw Paul Revere and the Raiders on a card in Lubbock. There were a few other bands on the card, but they stood out.
Which venue would you most like to play that you haven’t yet/ and which is your favorite venue to play?
I love to play house concerts and listening rooms. As for venues, I love to play the Birchmere in Alexandria Virginia near DC, and the Cactus Cafe. I really would like to play Sam’s Burger Joint in San antonio, I’m working on trying to get a gig there now.
What is the best career advice you’ve been given, and by whom?
Ray Wylie Hubbard, back when he was still known as Ray Hubbard and playing with Three Faces West, took me aside once after I had played “Early Morning Rain” for him and some others at the request of the owner of a bar I was playing at. He said “I have two pieces of advice for you: 1. Don’t ever sit down when you sing. 2. Don’t ever sing “Early Morning Rain”.”
Who are you listening to now?
I listen to a lot of old stuff, when I put on Pandora I listen to the Bob Dylan station. I really like Wilco, and also listen to a lot of Beatles and James Taylor. I was really impressed with Slaid Cleaves when I saw him play at Woodyfest this year.
What is your best story about life on the road?
I have a lot of stories, after all I did play with Jerry Jeff Walker. But my favorite moments have been touring overseas on US State Dept. sponsored shows in places like Africa, India, and the Middle East with my son Tucker. I remember having arguments on stage with him about what to play, the father and son dynamic can be tricky. Eventually I would say “This is my gig.”
What recordings are available to the public and where can they be purchased?
My most recent album, Gypsy Alibi (winner of the Texas Music Awards Album of the Year 2011 ) and most of my other recordings can be found at my website www.texasmusic.org , and in stores around the state.
When and where are you playing next?
I play Flipnotics in Austin on August 5, and Threadgill’s South on August 14.