Bob Petrocelli melts hearts, makes feet tap with original blues

Written by Sabrina Tinsay

Bob Petrocelli has it all. It is true that at first glance his twangy, subtle blues style makes a pair of feet tap to the beat and a heart melt with his lyrics. Bob Petrocelli has sheer honesty embedded in his songs. Shanghai Shuffle shows Petrocelli’s experience with blues music. Although “Gulf Coast Blues” may be one of his bluesy songs, Petrocelli brings you back to the roots in “Road Kill.” His musical experiences are apparent in his songs with different styles: In “Shellena’s Rose Tattoo” and “Hey Shellena,” one can differentiate his music style from roots to blues. Petrocelli’s current album takes one into a journey of past companionships,
forgotten memories, and new ways of living.

Sabrina Tinsay: You have chosen Shanghai Shuffle as your album title. How did you come up with this conclusion?

Bob Petrocelli: The title was up in the air until pretty late in the process.  Since there is so much traditional influence in this collection I ultimately decided to try to bring that out.  The title track is done in the style of a lot of blues/R&B/rock instrumental records from the late ’50s/early ’60s period.  I [was] thinking of things like Bill Doggett, Bill Black’s Combo, and a lot of others – just basic shuffle rhythms on a 12-bar progression.

Tinsay: In “Get a Grip (Part 1),” we can feel a sense of rawness to your music; what propelled you to believe you will be making a Part 2 with the same guitar riff?

Petrocelli: We recorded that as one long groove in the studio. I think it came out to about 11 minutes and the rhythm section just played the same pattern but kind of evolved it over the time it was played.  The lead lines, solos, and vocals were overdubbed later on.  Again I went back to the ’50s/’60s for inspiration.  In those days a lot of 45 RPM singles were released with a part 1 and then with part 2 on the flip side.  Also, Tower of Power did something similar on the Back to Oakland album.  They put segments of a piece called “The Oakland Stroke” as the first and last tracks on that album.  I’m glad you pointed out the rawness on the song.  I think a lot of the credit for that goes to Larry Steiner who played clavinet and Dave Clive on drums.  What they played kind of swirled around the constant riff I was playing throughout. 

Tinsay: I like that you are honest in your songs, but one stands out to me the most is “Threw My Love Away.” Who reminds you of that track?

Petrocelli: “Threw My Love Away” is probably the most personal song on the CD.  It’s written about my failed marriage of over 20 years and my feelings of anger towards my ex-wife, who has passed away since the song was written.  A lot of issues were left unresolved and this was my way of purging the anger I had been holding onto for a long time.

Tinsay: How would you define yourself as an artist?

Petrocelli: How would I define myself is a very good question which I really haven’t thought about until now.  I call myself a singer/songwriter/guitarist but I think that’s just the functional description.  I’d like to think of myself as someone who can entertain people and somehow also bring them something of value, a new insight or whatever.  At least that’s the goal.

Tinsay: When did you first start writing your own songs?

Petrocelli: I’ve been writing on and off for many years dating back to the late 60’s but really got serious about two years ago while working on the Three Leg Dogs and Old Skool Cats CD with singer Robert Charels.  I submitted a number of songs for the CD and only “Hey Shellena” made the cut.  I decided I wanted to have my music heard and developed the discipline to write on a regular basis.  That resulted in the Shanghai Shuffle project and that’s where we are today.  I’m currently working on material for the next CD while promoting this one.

Published in: on September 26, 2008 at 4:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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