It’s still about the songs with Bobby Caldwell

Published on August 15th, 2018

By Jim Dail

It should come as no surprise that singer Bobby Caldwell has always had a love of music.

“It began with me being an avid radio listener,” he said. “I became mesmerized by Ella and Sinatra and a host of others. And then when I heard ‘Ruby Baby,’ that was it.”

Caldwell will perform Saturday at Thornton Winery as part of the 2018 Champagne Jazz Concert Series.

When he was still a teen, he hit the road to Las Vegas as Frank Sinatra in the production “The Rat Pack is Back.” then Los Angeles, eventually finding sole success with the 1978 album “What You Won’t Do for Love,” and the Top 10 title track. From that point on, his career was off and running.

What got him about ‘Ruby Baby’ and many of the great songs over the years was that so many of them are just classics that listeners never get tired of hearing.

“First and foremost, there is the timelessness of those songs,” he said. “For those songs, it just seems to always be good no matter where you are and what stage of life you are in. Fads come and go and you probably don’t want to hear them anymore after a while because you got burned out on them because they were fads. I never get burned out by the classics.”

He knows a little bit about songs, being a prolific songwriter for such artists as Al Jarreau, Peter Cetera, Chicago and Boz Skaggs.

Of course, as a singer he has done his share of classics over the years, including a Great American Songbook album, “Blue Condition,” and countless legendary tracks.

“I especially like doing material other than my own that are recognizable by everyone,” he said.  “Currently, I am doing ‘I Only Have Eyes for You.’ Everybody knows the song, so it’s a fail-safe tune.”

There’s also the entertainment part of the songs.

“It wasn’t until I started doing covers and did the Rat Pack shows in Vegas that I started to get it,” he said. “We studied what they did. We wanted to embody it not just try to mimic the phrasing.”

The key to Caldwell is connecting to the audience.

“I mean, the audience is half the equation,” he said. “They have to bring it, and they do.”

He just returned from Japan, a place where he is enormously popular.

“The content is a little different because songs that were giant over there had little relevance here,” he said. “So in that respect the actual set list gets changed. We go there twice a year so we try to keep it a little different.”

And that’s a good thing for Caldwell and his band.

“There’s no doubt about it that we have to stay fresh with the music,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than getting bogged down with a drab show. This way, everyone from the audience to the band to me gets excited.”

What some do not realize is that it takes a lot of work and thinking to put on a show.

“I will tell you it’s always a work in progress,” he said. “Obviously, now I rethink some of the early things at the top of a range for a 25-year-old not thinking id be singing them when I was 66!”

But he is still proud of his voice, as he should be.

“As far as my own voice and sound, everybody has a different sound to their voice you,” he said. “You are not going to sound just like someone else, though you might be compared to them if it was that particular artist, but somehow your individual voice will come out and you will hear it. It’s a God-given gift to have your own sound. How an artist develops it or uses it is always a work in progress.”

IF YOU GO

When:  7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18

Where: Thornton Winery, Temecula

Admission: General admission $85, Gourmet supper: Sold out

Information: Call 951-699-3021 or visit Website, www.thorntonwine.com

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