One of my favorite things in the world is getting turned on to new music. When you discover any new thing, at first you just can’t get enough of it. I listen to these songs over and over again discovering little distinctions I hadn’t noticed before until I am so familiar with every musical moment of each song like they are burned into my brain. It is one of the many reasons why I have developed “The Songstress Spotlight”… because we all need new music from time to time.
I am so grateful to my cousin, Jonathan, for recently introducing me to Bobby Jo Valentine, a singer/songwriter out of the San Francisco area. My cousin sent me a message that Bobby Jo would be in Arizona on tour and did I know of any other venues where he could play. Unfortunately, the timing was not great, as I was swamped with projects and did not address his message until too late. I am kicking myself, because at the very least, I could have attended one of his shows while he was here. Darn!
My cousin had sent me Bobby Jo’s website and some Youtube links, and when I finally settled down to listen, I was so pleasantly transfixed on the most gorgeous voice, beautiful acoustic guitar riffs and refreshingly optimistic lyrics that reminded me about the kindness in the world. It was like hearing John Mayer on Zoloft, and for me, that was a very endearing concept. This is talented and well thought out music that is also so amazingly healthy. Truly, I want to slap this guys high fives and shout out a strong, “Hallelujah!” Amen, brother Bobby Jo. You view the world with great attitude, and it’s contagious.
So, I contacted Bobby Jo Valentine who wrote back and enthusiastically agreed to let me interview him. I hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did, and I can promise you, this is one musician worth getting to know.
The LA Weekly called you “the nicest guy to ever pick up an acoustic guitar” when you made your LA debut in 2011 at the Viper Room opening for folk-rock band “So & So.” Have you felt a need to live up to that reputation and does your good-guy demeanor ever get in the way of your music?
“I don’t think so. I hope not! My music is hopeful – after a lot of thinking, I’ve ended up with the theme ‘Hopeful folk/pop’ to define what it is- but I think it’s honest too, and doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of life. Not every song has an easy answer at the end of it. But, there’s always this undercurrent of hope. I’ve always been taught ‘nice guys finish last’ and that you need to be mean and ruthless if you’re going to make it, especially in this industry. I just do not believe that at all. I think, like John said, we’re ‘waiting on the world to change’ and a new music industry is going to come out that’s honest, and kind, and has integrity. And it’s been going pretty good for me so far. ”
You are known for not only playing venues like LA’s Viper Room or San Francisco’s Hard Rock Café, but also for entire tours in your fan’s living rooms. In 2011 you embarked on a 36 concert tour in 32 days solely in homes. How would you say these two obviously completely different venues affect your music and how you relate to your audience?
“I like both shows for different reasons. The larger shows, you can lose yourself a little more – get a little wide, anthemic, bring the whole band out. They’re great, and the energy is high, and you get to interact with these different people. But I love the intimacy of a house concert, and I think, no matter where this goes, I’ll always do those. There’s nothing like telling a story, deeply personal, about a song to a group of 20-40 folks.”
In 2012 you released your most current CD “Home,” your 3rd CD release in only a little over a year. Despite your short amount of time in the music scene, your music is critically acclaimed even earning you titles such as 2011 Songwriter of the Year by the West Coast Songwriters Association as well as the 2011 Song of the Year by WCS for your single “Fly” off of your CD “A Place to Belong.” 2013 has not brought out another Bobby Jo Valentine CD release as of yet. Did you feel the need for a break after all of that songwriting? Are you currently working on any new material you can tell us about?
“I am! There’s a song called “Lion in the Summer” on the inter webs somewhere. Youtube has a sample of an early performance. I’m working on some things, but it’ll probably be 2014 before another release. I’ve been writing a lot lately. There’s some more history of my life, some nuances, that I haven’t revealed in song yet, and I’m excited about sharing.”
(Click the link to check out the Youtube sample mentioned: “Lion in the Summer.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4ZwtRtO_50)
It seems like “Come Back to Bed” is your most recent single off of “Home.” Your bio suggests the song as a “commitment is cool” anthem. Most of your songs really do focus on relationships, so please tell us your views on commitment, and without getting too personal, who that special person or people that you write about and what qualities they have that you find most attractive.
“I’ve always felt that the idea of being with someone, for good, is incredibly romantic. We’re human, so there’s always that, and there’s a constant ebb and flow in a relationship. But in all that, the idea of faithfulness and commitment has somehow retained its beauty. I love that. I’ve been in my first (and hopefully, only) serious relationship for over 3 years now, and it’s given me some of the most amazing experiences and songwriting material ever. I’m still over the moon, and love writing about it. ”
So, Tucson Songstress friends, it is time for you to turn up your speakers and listen to the music of Bobby Jo Valentine. I know that you, too, will embrace this heart-warming music as I have. Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about Bobby Jo Valentine.
My Favorite Singles
“Come Back to Bed:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jBqM5Hjf07w
Music Available on iTunes
The Facebook Page:
The Twitter Page:
Thank you so much, Bobby Jo, for sharing a little bit about yourself with The Tucson Songstress. It’s been a pleasure to learn about you and your music, and I am so happy that it is music that will stay with me (and hopefully my readers) for years to come. I look forward to all of your future new music, and I promise, next time you’re in Arizona, call me for a house concert! Please do keep in touch. All the best wishes!