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By Michael Burke (reviewer)
by Bob Bakert
(CD Baby, 2014)
We're among the many admiring fans and friends filling audiences at The Hungry Ear in northwest Atlanta and we've been doing so for a growing number of years. My beautiful, witty and very with-it wife Renee gets full credit for getting us there a few years back. We're always looking forward to this totally awesome and amazingly inexpensive night out. For about the cost of a cheap six-pack and a few canned items for the CDC food bank, we've never departed "The Ear" dissatisfied or disconnected from the music and entertainment served up there. All top-drawer talent, with music profoundly pleasing to eyes, ears and inner spirit. So, support your local music-makers!
What we really want to say to The Veteran's audience is get the new "Finger Paintings" cd; written, produced and performed by an Atlanta gentlemen who migrated here from Buffalo, New York. Buffalo's deep freeze winters might have played a role in his relocation, yet his true motivation was coming here to make music and continue his education. If you've ever been wintered at Camp Drum, say in the 10th Mountain Division, you'll probably have no difficulty at all recalling all the ice. Especially that which formed on eyebrows, nose and mustache, if you were authorized to grow one back then.
Not only is this former Buffalo dude one helluva fine musician and terrific vocalist, he's very likely the best song-writer and arranger we've ever met personally. Bob Bakert is a hip easy-going middle-ager, who is quite possibly the best bundler of top music talent this young reporter has ever seen. For years we've taken in the shows Bob produces at The Ear, which by the way is a coffee house bubbling over with high-octane stuff. As a matter of fact, I've heard that the question Bob gets asked most following a show is straight out of an old Billy Joel hit, remember, "Say man, what are you doing here!?"
"Finger Paintings" is a landmark album for Bob Bakert and the entire cast of top musicians and backup singers, mainly because Bob wrote seven of the outstanding arrangements himself, among other things. His musical accompaniment is not your typical four-piece band, but rather an outstanding fourteen-piece orchestra brought together for this extra-special CD from Bob's little black book.
Kindly be aware that "Finger Paintings" instrumentation isn't your old standard three guitars and drums. This set includes a cello, kalimba, mandolin, viola, nylon guitar, fret-less bass, drums, piano, electric bass, tenor sax, pedal steel, upright bass and of course, Bob Bakert himself wailing away on either his steel string acoustic, electric or nylon guitar. Also quite fortunate for listeners of "Finger Paintings" is the two really great female backups adding just the right touch. This, pardon the expression, but this awesome album features sixteen top-notch performers in all.
Should I absolutely have to pick one favorite out of the entire litter it would have to be Spanish Rain. Why? Well, quite frankly because this very rhythmic and romantic song can really get us old guys out on the floor and dancing. The lyrics and Spanish guitar produce an articulate love-story much like the Marty Robbins great story-songs of fifty years ago. I've Been Thinking, Partners and My Blues are truly beautiful romantic songs in one man's candid view of the real world of love and parting. There's a lot more of course to this fabulous package and one should listen to and enjoy them all together.
Bob Bakert's music and lyrics traditionally garner multi-star reviews. Should you be unable to get to Atlanta and The Hungry Ear, you might just want to order your copy at www.bobbakert.com.
Michael Burke is a former Army NCO in ops-intel, with over 10 years of service, including tours in Germany, Korea and Vietnam. Presently the former Long Islander is VVAW's Atlanta contact.