Peter Himmelman, Bob Hillman

Peter Himmelman

Bob Hillman

Thu, November 2, 2017

8:00 pm

This event is 21 and over

Peter Himmelman
Peter Himmelman
“Suddenly I’m forty five, I’m balding, and I’ve been cooped up indoors doin’ these thirty second snippets of television music for the last six years…I needed to make this record like you need to breathe.”

A truly multi-faceted musician, Peter Himmelman is an Emmy-nominated TV composer, an acclaimed creator of children’s music and a critically lauded rock troubadour.

His new solo album, Imperfect World (Majestic Recordings), offers a searing set of songs wrapped up in rock ‘n’ roll but delving deeper into the soul of man than most rockers would attempt. The album’s genesis came with a burst of creativity that arose last summer around the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’av (the 9th of Av). According to Himmelman, ”Going without food or water for 25 hours will tend to put you into a different frame of mind.” Influencing this record too was the recent death of his younger sister in a car accident. Imperfect World poignantly explores this loss and subsequently grapples with the very notion of “purpose” in a seemingly arbitrary universe.

The songs on Imperfect World - Himmelman’s eleventh solo endeavor – represent a lean and muscular return to the blues, soul, and reggae roots that are the underpinnings of Himmelman’s style. The urgent scream of “Wet Matches,” which is fueled by Himmelman’s scorching slide guitar playing, finds the singer falling into traps of passion and avarice that seem beyond his control. “I fell into the web, I became entwined, I know it’s no excuse, but I’ve lost my mind.” On “Kneel Down”, he blends the spiritual and the secular into a search for salvation that finds Sixties pop singer Johnny Rivers bringing relief, while Himmelman describes the bluesy soul of “This Afternoon In The Rain” as “an idealized moment I wished I’d lived through.”
Bob Hillman
Bob Hillman
I had a good run in the late 90s/early 00s, releasing three albums and touring the United States and Europe, including 80 some-odd dates as the opening act on Suzanne Vega’s Songs in Red and Gray tour. Along the way, I earned positive notices like this one from Susan Stamberg on All Things Considered:

“I’ve never heard of this Mr. Bob Hillman but that song about War and Peace is enough to make you want to pick up War and Peace and start reading it.”

In 2003, however, I made the decision to become “employable” by going to business school; I then spent ten years working as a marketer on brands like Formula 409, Glad, and QuickBooks and raising my two sons, who are now in elementary school.

A 2014 layoff – which opened up some time for writing and meditating on the possibilities, music-wise – roughly coincided with Peter Case’s relocating from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Peter, a songwriter’s songwriter, had encouraged me since the mid-90s, when I sent my first batch of demos to an address on the back of his Torn Again album. We re-connected and, after a year and many, many cups of coffee, decided to work together.

Peter was a major impetus for the project – how could I resist the opportunity to work with one of the songwriters who inspired me to become a songwriter? – but the mainstreaming of crowdfunding didn’t hurt. My Kickstarter reached its initial, possibly-too-modest goal in two days and eventually generated almost $20,000. Crowdfunding can work for the financing part, but it’s also great for gauging interest among your friends/fans. I needed that vote of confidence!

The result is Lost Soul, produced by Peter Case with twelve new songs culled from the hundred or so new ones since 2005. The album was recorded by Sheldon Gomberg at The Carriage House in Silver Lake, CA with superb musicians including Joseph Arthur (loops, electric guitar), Danny McGough (keyboards), Jonny Flaugher (bass), Danny Frankel (drums), Cindy Wasserman (harmony), and my good friends Marky and Kipp Lennon (harmony). It was a privilege to spend a few days playing with these guys, and I don’t take it for granted.

I’m proud of this recording, which – thanks to Peter Case’s vision and Joseph Arthur’s loops, among many other things – relies on a less crafted, more visceral sound than the straightforward folk-rock in my catalog.

My ambitions are also different from the old days, when conquering the world still held some appeal: I just want a few more people to hear these songs. But, for me personally and perhaps for others, Lost Soul is about more than just the songs or the sound. As one fan put it in a recent email:

“You know, I think seeing you ‘back’ could be the most inspiring thing I’ve come across in years. After sleeping on it, I’m rethinking all the things I thought I’d never do again…”
Venue Information:
Hotel Utah
500 4th Street
San Francisco, CA, 94107