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Bob Lohr

Bob LohrWhere were you born?
In St. Louis. I've always lived here in St. Louis, other than 5 years in Santa Monica, CA (while going to law school).

Tell us a little about your preferred musical instrument!
Piano. We had one in the house when I was growing up, and I just had a natural feel for it. Plus, I can play bass and lead lines at the same time (ha ha)!

What are some of your musical influences?
As far as musical influences...I could go on for days. As far as straight gutbucket blues piano goes, Otis Spann, Roosevelt Sykes, Ike Turner and Lafayette Leake are my primary influences. However, you'll hear a great deal of Professor Longhair, James Booker, Clifton Chenier and Allen Toussaint in my playing as well. My rhythm and comping style behind other people is primarily from Professor Longhair, Charles Brown, Ramsey Lewis and Les McCann. On top of that, you'll hear a great deal of "feel" which I copped from two of the Motown piano players-Earl Van Dyke and Johnny Griffith. Bottom line is that I steal from anybody and everybody who I "feel" out there. St. Louis musical influences? Everybody I heard growing up had a big influence on me. Oliver Sain was a huge role model and influence on me. Chuck Berry, Ike Turner and Albert King also taught me a lot by seeing and listening to them live. Arthur Williams-one of the best harp players and "feel" musicia ns on the planet-was the guy who really encouraged me to get my left hand working, and he hooked me up with all the serious Delta-style players as a teenager. Same with Boo Boo Davis, whose brothers, along with Arthur Williams, really taught me how to play serious blues. I also learned a lot by being in and out of Tommy Bankhead's band over the years.

What music were you exposed to in your childhood?
My Dad played harmonica and drums...my sister Liz is a serious blues piano player on the East Coast.

What music do you like to listen to?
I try to catch Pennsylvania Slim on a regular basis...he's probably the best young guitarist in town who really has an understanding of blues "feel". Billy Peek has always been inspirational to me as a player, especially his rhythm chops...he's St. Louis' answer to Ronnie Wood. Chuck Berry said on stage the other night (I've played piano with Chuck for almost 8 years now) that "Billy Peek plays Chuck Berry better than Chuck Berry does!" Billy can be absolutely awesome at times. I also enjoy the Bel-Airs and make it a point to see them regularly. Plus a gang of other local up and comers who I keep an eye/ear on...lots of great players here.

Have you done any recordings?
You mean this week? (ha ha). Yes, I've done a gang of recording, both as a player and producer. You can punch "Bob Lohr" into www.allmusic.com for a partial list of what I've been up to most recently! In addition to that list, I just finished and co-produced a CD with the Jelly Roll Allstars for the Severn label...this features Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums, Calvin "Fuzz" Jones on bass (the old Muddy Waters rhythm section) plus Sam Carr and Arthur Williams, Jesse Hoggard and yours truly. Plus, I'm on a bunch of local CDs and European compilation CDs as well.

What's your favorite music moment?
Anytime I get to play with musicians I grew up listening to and playing along to their records when I first started to play. It's a surreal trip for me to get onstage with Chuck Berry-I used to prop up his LPs on a chair and pretend I was in his band as I played along when I was a kid...and now I look over and it's really him I'm playing with (ha ha)...it was the same way not long ago when I did a gig with Billy Boy Arnold, and before that with Jimmy Rogers a few years back. Same when I did a couple of gigs with Ernie Isley last year. As far as recording goes, one of the best musical moments was with Erskine Oglesby when we cut his first CD for a Dutch label...the first cut, "Jack & Coke" to me is a classic example of how to lay down a St. Louis shuffle and groove...go out and get that CD and listen to that cut and see why St. Louis has a distinctive blues groove all its own...

What's your favorite gig?
Probably with Chuck Berry. First off, I've played more gigs with him than anyone else by far (closing in on 100 gigs over 8 years). It's a blast to have the best seat in the house when he tears the roof off the joint, plus there's lots of room in his music for piano solos (ha ha). Second, it's a trip to be onstage with a guy who changed music, period. Third, he treats me extremely well...a great guy to work for.

Describe your musical path.
The path for me is to play with time and "feel" and hope somebody picks up on it from a positive perspective. Hopefully when a guy or girl brings their date to a show I'm doing, my musical exploits will help them close the deal that night (ha ha).

What are your musical goals?
To play with all the living Chess and VeeJay recording artists!!!! I'm getting close, folks...do some really "outside" solo CDs...I'm working on one now...do more Euro festivals, and do more blues/rock production projects as a change of pace.

What do you think of the state of St. Louis Blues?
I don't mean to be negative, but...on the straight blues scene, I hear some good-to-great-to monster players and singers but few good rhythm sections. You'll hear a great guitar player with a mediocre bass player and drummer, for example. In order to go to the next level, the rhythm section has to be seriously slammin' or you can't compete/record on a national or international level-end of story. The R&B scene (which overlaps the blues scene) is a different story...there are so many monster players and rhythm sections here that national touring acts often come through looking to tap into our pool of talent. So in that regard, I have a lot of hope for the state of St. Louis blues music...when those cats come off the road, they have to play somewhere!!!!

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