British singer-songwriter Bobby Long didn’t even start to play guitar until he was 17, but from that point on, he’s been creating captivating songs inhabited by hauntingly poetic lyrics. His voice commands attention, while his stellar musicianship complete a formidable package.
Born in Wigan near Manchester in the north of England, Bobby and his family settled in a small town in Wiltshire when he was four. He left that bucolic life at 18 when he moved to London to attend university, graduating with a degree in sound and media for film. He quickly established himself on the local open mic circuit, finding his voice and developing an enviable repertoire of material characterized by catchy, memorable melodies paired with elusive, imaginative lyrics. In London, he met a circle of fellow musicians, among them Marcus Foster, with whom he wrote a song called “Let Me Sign,” and actor/musician Robert Pattinson, who would sing the song in the 2008 film Twilight.
That coup gave him a head start on a fan base, but as an independent artist, he knew he would have to take the reins of his own destiny. So he recorded an acoustic CD called Dirty Pond Songs to sell at his tour stops and set off for America five years ago. He never looked back.
Now happily living in New York City, Bobby has three full-length CDs to his credit, the critically acclaimed A Winter Tale (2011) and the more rock-oriented Wishbone (2013), several EPs in between (Live From Arlene’s Grocery, Dangerous Summer and The Backing Singer) as well as a collection of poetry called Losing My Brotherhood (2012). His third album, Ode to Thinking (2015) was made possible by his first PledgeMusic campaign. His new collection of poetry will be part of this new campaign for his fourth album.
Long is an accomplished guitarist, having mastered an uncommon finger-picking guitar style through non-stop performing. A student of songcraft, his reverence for American music runs deep, with influences ranging from Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb to Woody Guthrie and Leonard Cohen. Yet lurking in his background is a broader musical sensibility that encompasses the guitar-tinged blues of Mississippi John Hurt, the knowing song craft of the Beatles and the Kinks, and even flashes of the angry heat of another band he admires greatly—Black Sabbath.
Whether headlining his own shows, playing festivals like Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits and Bamboozle or supporting artists such as Rodrigo y Gabriela, Brett Dennen, Steve Winwood and Iron & Wine, Bobby Long’s live performances are magical and memorable. Above all, it’s the honesty and aching vulnerability in his intricate songs (coupled with his shy demeanor and wry humor on stage) that endears Long to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.