Studio Floor

Website Tour

Join singer/songwriter Bobby Angel …

On a self-guided tour of his website.

Bobby Angel tours his website

The major take-home point is this: The website is super easy to navigate. My albums, songs, interview, campfire concerts, demos and more are easy to find. Better yet, you can even buy a Bobby Angel T-Shirt. The thing about Bobby Angel, I’m about as good a webmaster as I am a singer songwriter. Or in other words, I’m learning. What I love about the website? It made me think long and hard about how to structure it and the message I wanted to get across. Most of all I wanted it a tool where Angelheads could both find what they needed (songs, albums, interviews) — better known as “discoverability” — but also get lost. Early on and often, the website helped inform my art. Case in point is that whenever I write a song I follow up within the week with an interview on the song. The other great thing about the website: It gives me a reason to be a finisher. Without a place to put a song, to memorialize it for all time, it’s easy to use that for an excuse of never getting it done. Not for Bobby Angel! Yes, many first drafts never see the light of day. But if I make it to the second draft, the third, seventh, thirteenth, whatever it takes, are close behind, it soon thereafter finding a spot on my website.

I‘ve always said: If nobody else uses my website other than me, it’s a success. But Big Confession, too: Thank God for all you Angelheads out there!

P.S. Don’t forget to visit my store (T-Shirts next day delivery).

Practice makes practice

The easiest thing in the world …

Is picking up the guitar.

Practice makes practice

Practice makes practice

Sometimes I’ll play an old song, half to hear it again and most of all to get a practice rep in. That’s the thing about a song: You can write it and sing it once, but it’s only in repetition that you refine it to the finished project it has to be. I’m not saying this is the best practice session I’ve ever had. But why not? And show me the person who presented a perfect rendition of anything without hashing it out one step at a time with up until the moment it’s perfected, it barely being a finished product at all. Long live trial by error and refining in baby steps!

Price you pay
And why I wrote the song

I‘m not saying …

I’ll do anything to make a sale.

Burt Silver’s Campaign Commercial

But sometimes you’ve gotta be willing to go out on a limb, especially when you’re a struggling artist. And by struggling, I mean struggling to find an audience. And don’t get me wrong, I love performing at campfire events. The problem is they’re usually campfires I start, and sometimes I’m the only one there. The last election cycle I was approached by a politician named Burt Silver who asked if I’d write his theme song. At first I was unsure, but being an artist down on my luck, I really didn’t have a choice. And before I feature that song — called New Dawn — I thought to post a campaign commercial by Burt. The thing that really won me over about Burt was his problem solving skills. He may not be your ordinary politician, but when the cards are down and the stakes are high, he’s not afraid to bluff with a pair of twos. I respect that. Burt and I really bonded at the late night diner after a big night of poker earnings and that’s when we struck our deal. It was as big an advance as I’d seen my whole life. To think, it was just another night of gambling earnings for him. It sort of blew me away. “It’s a new dawn with Burt Silver,” is all I could think when we finally left the diner. And I mean literally — a thin sliver of the sun was starting to rise up out of the East. A new dawn alright. A new dawn indeed.

Pre Typewriter
Ode to a simpler time

I remembered when I first learned

To use a typewriter.

Performed to Dylan’s It’s Alright Ma

I was in twelfth grade. Cumbersome at first, and plodding. I didn’t much see the point. And then it clicked — and I was off to the races typing lightspeeds faster than I could write. The irony was in 10th grade, just two years before, my brother typed my American History paper (Topic: Should Eisenhower have crossed the Elbe River Faster?) for me. That makes me laugh because to this day my brother types with two fingers. It’s painful to watch, whereas I mastered using all eight fingers and both thumbs.

Fast forward three decades later I have to remind myself to even pick up a pen. And how quaint even now a typewriter seems in retrospect. Increasingly, I’m too lazy to even thumb out an email, let alone a text with ample impossible to interpret autocorrects — and even resorting to just audio transcribing into my phone to respond to texts and emails. What is the world coming to! Oh, and how the mighty have fallen. If my 18 year old self could see me now, I really wonder what he would say. Instead of reading books and handwriting long letters to distant friends, here I am lost in my thoughts of how things used to be. I’m not saying the typewriter was a slippery slope, but what I am saying is that this song stayed handwritten. It never got typed out or saved into a computer as a Word file.

The topic? My then boss was turning fifty, 2 years younger than I am now. At the time, he seemed so much older, but maybe that’s because everything is relative. What’s that saying: “Better late than never?” Final note: I couldn’t make the big event, but not wanting to be left out or contribute in someway, I wrote this song — and here’s the funny part: I recorded it on a cassette tape. No joke. I wonder if Ron still has that tape now, and if so, and probably the more impossible feat — If he has a tape recorder to play it on?

Bogged Down
When life trips you up

Sometimes life …

Trips you up.

One of my better live performances

The only known antidote: Get up and brush it off. And I don’t speak from experience. I’m only saying it as a last resort. These past few months I’ve been going through a song-writing lull. The good news: I’ve seriously gone through my archive and put my songs to memory. I am now capable of playing any number of song sets. The problem is: I’ve left a lot of half-baked songs languish on the window sill. I’m not saying I’m not going to eventually get back up on the horse and gallop full speed ahead. But there are times I wish I was a full time nature-folk balladeer instead of doing the balancing act of being a hydrologist, every night campfire host, performing late night campfire concerts, maintaining a podcast and also trying to put the finishing touches on a fourth installment of a major literary work. Bogged down? Only to the uninitiated. There’s an old saying: If you want something done, ask a busy person. The corollary is: being bogged down is just a momentary state of finally breaking through to the promised land.

Last song of 1st album
Draft song sheet for New Pangaea

I remember writing this song.

It came to me in a rush.

Click here to listen to the song

I wrote it, I sang it and I quickly moved on. It was the final song of my first album, twenty years in the making. It also re-inspired my song-writing chops. Every other song on the first album were from the deep archive of farewell songs I’d written over the years. It paved the way for most of my second album – The Green Album – being newly written songs. At the time of this post, I am going through a little bit of a song-writing lull. But after completing three albums of original songs and interviews, maybe I needed a break. Time off is always well spent

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Concert at Lake Flirt
And why the water fall never went away

There’s a saying that …

The darkest hour is just before the dawn.

Firelight Radio is available on Apple Podcasts and Podbean

Well, sometimes you don’t even have to wait that long. That’s where campfires come in. There have been a lot of major inventions over the eons. The toaster. The comb. Just as seen on TV products. The list goes on. But has there ever been as good an invention as the campfire? Maybe the wheel. But that’s splitting hairs. The truth is that the there’s really no other antidote out there for what ails the soul than spending some quality time around a campfire. At least for my money. And campfire’s are usually free. That’s the best part.

Titanic dethroned!
Bobby Angel talks "The Lusitania"

Behind every great song …

Is the after-song interview.

Bobby angel explains why in this in-depth interview.

No song delves deeper into my heart than the Lusitania. Why? Maybe because my grandfather could have easily served in the war. He didn’t. But he was almost of the age that he could have if he were only born a year or two before. To me, the song also challenges the myth of the Titanic. It also begs the question, will Celine Dion and I ever collaborate. All I can say is that it would be a great, maybe the greatest, highlight of my career. Celine – if you’re listening – I already have the campfire venue picked out. Or alternatively, we could meet up in Las Vegas too at one of your shows. I’m good either way.

The Lusitania
When a boat is more than a boat

This song may seem simple …

But it’s tightly constructed, too.

Stay on afterwards to hear the interview

Why the Lusitania has always loomed large in my imagination, for what reason I am not sure. In part was that it wasn’t the Titanic. How many ships have sank since the Titanic went down? Probably thousands. Yet we don’t know any of their names, and here’s the bigger point: The Titanic is somehow still making front page news. The more immediate backstory on the song: Somebody posted a cartoon featuring the Titanic on Facebook. Call it the straw that broke the camel’s back, a week later I’d written this song. I’ve since been told by a history buff that some of my facts are a little off. For example, Captain Turner wasn’t on the take. It turns out he didn’t know about the munitions in the cargo bay. Well, my take: Maybe he should have. The buck stops with the captain in my book. In its finality, by both way of its tone and its subtle yet strongly anti-war refrain, this song could be one of my best. I think it coveys a closeness and intense longing for a time gone by. I hope you enjoy.

Marsha Marsha Marsha

This song has a special place …

In my heart.

I finally worked out the chords in this session

The reason? For one, I think it’s upbeat. And it also tells a good story. Most of all is that is the first farewell song that I performed live at a party. In the run-up to singing the song, it’s also how I got my stage name Bobby Angel. Other details: At the end of the song I discuss a little history behind the song and how after twenty years I managed to remember and reconstruct the way I sang it on that fateful night. I’m not proud. But I did need the practice. But the end of the session I was wide awake and alert. In total I rehearsed about five songs. It’s all about getting your reps in.

Bobby Angel Goes Broadway
It was never a question of if, but when (and for how long)

The secret of life …

Is finding the right venue.

Front of Playbill

What critics are dubbing “a campfire to remember,” singer/songwriter Bobby Angel is sweeping the country on a whirlwind campfire concert tour. Did I say country? I meant county. Actually country sounded better, we should stick with that. Folks: In all seriousness, it’s not neither the journey or the destination — it’s your imagination. Here’s the backstory: Somebody asked me to bring my guitar to an event. Have a month to prepare I dutifully worked on a campfire song set. I also rehearsed it in front of a campfire to warm reception. Granted, it was a friendly crowd. But they had the power to throw my guitar into the canal if they wanted. They didn’t. Then came the actual event. It never materialized. I played one song, and only to one person. A week later I randomly stopped by a place on the way home from work and they booked me on the spot — for Friday (2 days away), and better yet a $100 event. I’m not saying I planned it that way. But I’m going in prepared with a Playbill. And that’s not just being fancy. My goal is Broadway by the end of the year, or maybe a campfire around Yellowstone. I know somebody who used to work there. It’s not how good you are or even who you know, but getting the reps in for something that never goes as planned.

Back of Playbill

In the half light
New lyrics take shape

The thing about a song …

You gotta strike when the iron’s hot.

Or is it about reaching back far in time? The truth is, whenever and wherever the muse strikes, you’ve gotta be ready to go with the flow but also be a finisher, too. I’m not saying this is my next smash hit. Or is it an old song I resurrected from the crypt? Song writing is more alchemy than exact exact science. More present than future or past.