Original Vintage R&B/Pop Tunes from Austin’s Soulful Song Spinners

August, 2017
AUSTIN, Texas – The Robert Kraft Trio’s follow-up to last year’s vinyl single release features remixes of both songs (Gotta Have You, and I Want to Show You), plus a string of new tunes written in the tradition of the soulful R&B and Pop music that first influenced singer and songwriter Robert Ashker Kraft in his callow youth. 

 “It's like he hired The Wrecking Crew for these sessions,” legendary singer-songwriter James McMurtry says, referring to band members JD Pendley on guitar and Lindsay Greene on bass, (with guest artists Robb Kidd on drums and Producer David Boyle on Wurlitzer and B3 organ) who lay down the foundation for Kraft's singular vocals. JD Pendley also serves as Music Director and Arranger for the band, and he brings his own charm, wit and musical mastery to each composition. 

 Composer and Artist Brennen Leigh is a fan. “Robert Kraft makes smart music that's also irresistably danceable. Everything he touches becomes an instant classic,” she says.

 The title – North Bishop Ave – is a nod to Kraft’s late older brother, Stuart Kraft.

 “Stu was one of the first artists to move into the Oak Cliff neighborhood between West Davis and West Colorado Blvd in Dallas. I would stay with him occasionally, when things got bad at home, and worked for him as a welder, steel cutter, and finisher in his sculpture studio, off and on, for years.  The stereo was always blasting, and it was there that I discovered KKDA – 730 AM, “Soul 73”. I guess I was 15 or 16 years old. I listened to that station all day, sometimes.

 “Deep Ellum wasn’t far away. There were just a few beer joints open back then. The rest was used tire stores, pawnshops, warehouses and vacant storefronts. I would wander that direction after work to do some underage drinking (never got carded!) and listen to juke boxes stuffed with 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s R&B, or sit at the feet of venerated local bluesmen performing live on tiny stages for tips and ‘old time’s sake’.

 “That whole area around Downtown Dallas - Oak Cliff, Fair Park, Deep Ellum - was a steaming mix of Tejano music, Blues, Honky Tonk, Rhythm and Blues, and Soul music, drifting from the open doors of barber shops, cafes, from bars and night clubs. It was in the air, if you knew where to find it, back in the days before the Prophet Bar and the revitalization of Deep Ellum, or the realization of The Bishop Arts District. I guess all of that music got under my teenaged skin, and it has sweated out of me in almost all the music I’ve made over the years, and it infuses this latest project. I hope we capture the feeling of the world back then, and the hopeful belief that music truly could take us somewhere better, together.”

Singer and songwriter Robert Kraft's past projects include The Governours, The Ken, Tosca Tango Orchestra, The Glover Gill Quartet, The Robert Kraft Quartet, and Acme Song Company.

The Robert Kraft Trio enjoys a Friday residency at the world famous Continental Club Gallery in Austin, TX, where their soulful shows have packed the dance floor for over 7 years.


The Robert Kraft Trio spotlights new original R&B, 70’s Pop, and Honky Tonk at their
longtime Friday night residency at legendary Continental Club Gallery

AUSTIN, Texas – The Robert Kraft Trio's forthcoming vinyl single swaggers (“I Gotta Have You”) and sways (“I Want to Show You”) with effortless, soulful elegance. The exceptional record previews the Austin-based singer's highly anticipated full-length album (release date TBA). Results already have made their mark. “It's like he hired The Wrecking Crew for these sessions,” legendary singer-songwriter James McMurtry says enthusiastically, referring to band members JD Pendley on guitar and Lindsay Greene on bass (with guest artists Robb Kidd on drums and Producer David Boyle on Wurlitzer and B3 organ) who lay down the foundation for  Kraft's singular vocals. High praise, indeed. Now, a little background on the singer and how he developed such an instinctive affinity for R&B/Soul-infused music.

The middle of winter afternoon was a difficult time for Kraft when he was fifteen. It meant getting off the school bus and walking the mile or so from the bus stop to his house. It meant feeling the happiness of being with his friends on the bus, laughing and just being kids, seep out of him and give way to the worry and depression of going home to . . . well, that was the thing. He never knew what he was going home to. Eggshells to walk on? A brewing storm? Mom's black eye? A fist in his face?

Before the days of personal electronic devices, before the advent of the Walkman and those foam-covered headphones, there was the transistor radio. Kraft's was a bright green one from Radio Shack and it had a single earpiece that looked like a small hearing aid. It only picked up a few AM stations - local news and weather, some Honky Tonk – and a small local R&B station: 730 AM, KKDA, Dallas. Soul 73.

Listeners will be grateful he found it. “That tiny radio introduced me to Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Sly and the Family Stone, The Emotions, Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Earth Wind and Fire, Smokey Robinson, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Lou Rawls, Al Greene,” Kraft explains. “I had heard some of this music before, of course, but on that walk home each afternoon with all that love and joy and sorrow and rage and passion pouring into my head through that tiny earpiece, it found a resonance in me.”

The music became an antidote to the depression and sadness he struggled against in a way that other music could not. It was emblematic of so much strength, resilience and beauty that it made him feel hopeful for a way out of sadness and fear into something beautiful and true. “Especially since this music grew out of a culture that knew more about suffering, oppression and courage than I could ever conceive,” Kraft explains. “I owe the awakening of my progressive political ideology as much to Sly and Marvin as to any author or political figure or mentor.”

“I vividly recall sprawling on my bed, looking out into a gray afternoon, discovering Bill Withers' 'Lovely Day', and feeling something inside me say, 'Yes. This,'” he continues. “Not long after, I bought my first garage sale electric bass, and started learning grooves.” The purchase clearly paid off. “Robert Kraft makes smart music that's also irresistably danceable,” says singer-songwriter Brennen Leigh. “Everything he touches becomes an instant classic.” 

No matter what genre of music he has explored professionally, Kraft always has felt the influence and spirit of that music at work. Sometimes in subtle shades of phrasing and chord voicings and sometimes quite overtly, as when his alternative rock band The Ken would tear up an Aretha-inspired version of “Natural Woman”, or a straight up knock off of Rufus and Chaka Khan's “Tell Me Something Good.” “When I had run as far into Argentine tango as my talent would allow, I cleansed my pallet with a few guitar arrangements of songs by the Temptations and Red Bone for solo performance,” Kraft says. “When I was a toiling through the voice program at North Texas State's School of Music, I would blow off steam singing with a Soul Review Band in Deep Ellum.”

So, it was no surprise that when he started writing music again after a long break – and a dark period – what came out of him was what had gone into him and sustained him through an earlier dark time. “In these new songs, I try to recapture my own memories of a perfect summer day in the park with a girl who might actually like me, of hearing blues harmonica wafting from the alley behind the barber shop on Bishop Avenue in Oak Cliff, or just the feeling of trudging home under a cold winter sun towards chaos and the unknown,” he says, “and knowing that at least there are some things that make perfect sense.”

Guitarist and Arranger JD Pendley tours with Doug Moreland's band, and he regularly partners up with David Biller for stunning Guitar Hero showcases around Texas. His past projects include work with Erik Hokkanen, Bear and the Essentials, and The Jazz Pharaohs.

Lindsay Greene is one of the workingest bass players in Texas. His other projects have included Seth Walker, Ruby Jane,The Lovely Sparrows, Montopolis, Jo's house band, The Dead Left, Paula Nelson and many more.

“Robert Kraft makes smart music that's also irresistably danceable. Everything he touches becomes an instant classic.” - Brennen Leigh