17-Year-Old Prodigy Comes to Stage One in Fairfield Connecticut

It’s hard to be so humble and mature when talent comes so naturally to someone, but Bobby Paltauf proved in an interview it’s possible, as he is undoubtedly one of the most professional and grounded  young musicians out there. He’s coming to the Fairfield Theater Company’s secondary venue, Stage One, on Saturday, March 11 and NYS Music revealed some information about the show and how he got started. Paltauf also talks about a pre-show fundraiser with organizations like Horns For Kids, along side Rock Cottage Studio as well as how a portion of the ticket sales going to Zach Staden, a man who requires stem cell therapy for a spinal chord injury.

Dave Ostroff: What age did you pick up the guitar?

Bobby Paltauf: Around 7, I’ve been playing for about 10 years now. Started right on a Strat too, it’s a huge guitar. My dad used to play a lot and he had an acoustic and Strat and I dove right into those.

DO: Did your dad tempt you to play?

BP: It was always more of my doing. My dad always played great music. When I was a kid we would just rock out to Led Zeppelin. He played one Zeppelin song and it just intrigued me. I picked up his guitar one day and I tried to learn it.

DO: Did you ever get stumped and need that extra push to keep learning?

BP: Definitely. It was hard especially when you have those baby fingers. There were songs that I wanted to learn, a lot of Led Zeppelin stuff. It was about a year, year and a half where I was kind of getting it… and then it just clicked.

DO: When did you get together with the people you put the album out with?

BP: 2013. I started going to BRYAC. They had a funk night and there, someone told me about this bass player and drummer and we met in their basement and we just clicked right away. We added a keyboard player that we knew and then we put together that record.

DO: You guys sound fantastic. One of my favorites is Atmosphere. Talk us through the creative process of that song.

BP: When I first met with the drummer Kaitlyn, and the bass player Miles, we jammed on a funk tune and directly after, Miles started playing some diminished line, and we wrote the tune right there on the spot. It was the first or second time we met. We molded it out every night that we were on tour and it just came to be the song.

DO: What would you define the album is in terms of genre?

BP: A lot of it is instrumental, it’s funky with a little bit of jazz influence, so I would just call it a funk rock album.

DO: A lot of the music, as you said is instrumental, but in some songs you sing. Did you want to stay more instrumental because that’s your strong suit?

BP: At the time we put out the record I was only 14 and at the point your voice is changing every couple of months. At that point my voice wasn’t my strong suit and I was more engulfed in the guitar, so I just wanted to make that album based around instrumental stuff. I wanted to let my voice develop more. That’s actually what I’ve been doing for the past year/ two years now is writing lyrical based music. The next record is going to be a complete twist, all lyrical stuff.

DO: Led Zeppelin was your muse for your guitar work. Do you pull any inspiration from famous vocalists?

BP: Back then I was focused on guitarists. But in the past couple years I’ve been getting into folk singers like Bob Dylan. I like his less technical approach, just singing from your soul. I’ve been working on my own, which will be on the new album.

DO: Is there an expected date for the album drop?

BP: Mostly likely early May.

DO: Compared to Lost and Found, are we going to see a similar genre? Striving for something new?

BP: I’m definitely going to go for more of a rock and roll feel, going back to the music I really fell in love with years ago. It’ll definitely be more rock based, there will be tracks that go off a little bit and jam with a little bit of funk thrown in. Also some more lyrically developed idea.

DO: You’re show at the FTC is coming up in March, are we going to see anything from the new album?

BP: We’re actually going to play the entire new album. We might throw in some stuff from lost and found, but it’ll almost all be new stuff.

DO: You got to sit in with Buddy Guy among other famous musicians. How did you get that gig and what was it like?

BP: I played with him at the Ridgefield playhouse and my aunt who works there set me up with him. I didn’t really know who he was. I was more into the rock stuff, but I started to check him out and thought, “I need to see this guy he’s a legend!” She ended up getting me to meet him before the show, he had me play a little bit in front of him, he said, “Stand over here by the side stage and I’ll call you up for a song. It was just so incredible and surreal.

DO: Was that the most memorable sit in with an artist?

BP: Buddy Guy was probably the big one. The other one at Catskill Chill when I sat in for The Meters with Paige from Phish. That one was incredible. I was around 14 for that one. I happened to be a in a Meters phase too. It was incredible to play with George and Leo.

DO: Did any of these big names say or do anything that will stick with you for the years to come?

BP: I’ve seen Buddy Guy so many times after that. You see he brings so much energy to the shows. It shows that it’s all about the music, but you need to keep people engaged, especially nowadays. The Meters show was a fun jam for jam lovers, but the Buddy Guy one stuck with me. You need to keep the crowd engaged. He walks around the stage, into the crowd and up into the balcony. He has a lot of fun with it.

DO: You’re playing with Grayson Hughs at the FTC, have you talked to him? Know him at all?

BP: I’m actually in his band too. He called me up a few years ago, I had no idea who he was. He got my number from a girl in my school who was family friends with him. He’s this legendary soul singer from the 80’s who fell out but is making a come back with a few albums.  He happens to be from Danbury and he tried to put together a band, he found me, a drummer and bass player and we’ve been rehearsing for about a year and a half. We thought about the idea of merging the two bands at a bigger venue- Stage One in Fairfield.

DO: So your group is going to open first, and then you’ll combine together for the second set?

BP: We’ll do a little over an hour and then change over and he’ll do about 90 minutes with us.

DO: Do you guys plan on heading over to NYC anytime soon?

BP: We plan on doing a bigger run when the album drops. We loved playing New York City, and hopefully try to get a nice run together for the early summer.

DO: Any other info regarding your upcoming FTC show?

BP: Before the show we are going to have a bunch of local organizations and causes setup in the art gallery at FTC StageOne to promote what they do and to raise donations.  There will be a table for Zach Standen setup where they will be collecting donations for medical funds, stem cell therapy, and more (as well as a portion of the ticket proceeds will be also going to him).  Rock Cottage Studio will have a setup to spread Horns For Kids, which gives instruments to underprivileged kids who can’t afford them. There will be many other things set up at doors before the show and we will also have merch and cd’s.