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Tall Poppy

Bob Schneider goes nationwide without the - gasp! - approval of Austin's hipsters

The reason that Schneider sells so well in Austin isn't just his party band popularity. The people pooh-poohing him at the Yard Dog party probably weren't disposed to hearing how Schneider's songs, stripped nearly bare, are as well crafted and imaginative as any heard all week at the mega-event, maybe more so. National critics are dropping names like Prince, Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Randy Newman, Van Morrison, Beck, Sting and David Byrne in reviews of Lonelyland, and not without due cause. Rich in musicality and sincere in intent, the album is a sophisticated pop-rock collection beyond anything else the oft-overrated Austin scene has produced in recent years.

For Schneider, the secret to his long- running success has always been simple. "The one thing that I've consistently tried to do is have something new every time I play," he explains. "I don't think you can play two songs in a row and not have anything new. Every time somebody comes to a show, I want them to see something that they're never going to see again, and also hear something they've never heard before."

Now he's hoping to export that philosophy beyond Texas. As his circle of influence widens, however, Schneider has to deal with more than the usual Austin bullshit; there's the inevitable jealousy and conspiracy theories that go with dating a famous actress. "When you start dating a celebrity, it turns the whole world into high school again," he notes. What irks him is how "people are going to draw the conclusion that I suck, and the only reason they are hearing about me is because of who I'm dating," he says. "I work really hard at what I do. To have it possibly negated because of who I'm dating annoys me."

Schneider wants to kill - creatively, at least - all those who pooh-pooh his work.
Dan Winters
Schneider wants to kill - creatively, at least - all those who pooh-pooh his work.

Details

Friday and Saturday, June 8 and 9; 713-869-COOL
Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue

But having put his party days behind him, Schneider is finding satisfaction in being Austin's hardest-working musician (not to damn the man with faint praise). "I don't know what I'm going to do after I get bored with this," he surmises. "Maybe I'll have to change my name."

"Cleaning up my act has given me a chance to figure out what's going to make me happy, and come closer to discarding the idea that fame and fortune is going to do it," he concludes. "I think what's going to make me happy is being okay with the world and coming to peace with myself and the world."

And maybe to one day have that faux hipsterette brag to all and sundry about how she once saw the great Bob Schneider perform solo behind a folk art gallery on South Congress in Austin.

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