More than a balladeer, Robert Thomas Kuhlmann is a gifted songwriter/performer with an unaffected charm that comes across in the sweet honesty of his words and the simple imagery of his songs. Over the years, he has won over audiences through his live performances, which are characterized by raw, yet tender, vocals and lilting guitars. Although his style ranges from acoustic ballads to ringing Stratocasters, the music is heartfelt and emotional.
That emotion has been evident since Kuhlmanns formative days as a founding member of Dear John and Page 3, two bands that were staples on the St. Louis new wave/power pop scene in the early 80's. After relocating to Venice, California in 1985, Kuhlmann and long-time partner-in-crime George Schneller (aka John Doran) honed their songwriting skills and performed their brand of heartland rock and roll in clubs around Southern California as the Orchids and the Last American Heroes.
Since 1989, Kuhlmann has appeared regularly as a solo acoustic artist, and has proven that he is as much at home performing solo on a barren Austin, TX, stage at SXSW, as he is backed by a full band. The Village View once recommended a live performance with this quote: "Terrific, pop-inflected songs about love, loss and strength. Come hear why he's a voice to listen for in the L.A. acoustic scene."
In 1994, Kuhlmann released his solo acoustic CD Confidential Reasons, a collection of excursions into the realms of ambition and desire, secrets and confessions, hope and heartbreak. Confidential Reasons is more a collaboration between friends than a formal recording - Kuhlmann and Schneller share songwriting and performance credits, and are joined by fellow musicians Jerry Giddens (Walking Wounded) and the late Ethan James.
Kuhlmann lives in Manhattan Beach, CA and continues to perform, write and record. He is currently working with fellow Manhattan Beach lyricist/songwriter Don Jung, and the lyricist/songwriter duo has collaborated on dozens of songs since meeting at a songwriters workshop several years ago. The 2005 CD titled The R & D Project showcases the varied influences of this partnership. From up-tempo guitar driven rock and roll to country-tinged ballads, the collection is a reflection of the pairs musical styles and interests. Common to both, though, is their passion for well-crafted pop songs with a romantic edge, and the CD features a song cycle that resonates with emotion as it traces the timeline of love.
Yes, I am currently performing acoustic shows around Southern California. Some special moments include my performances at Chicago House in Austin during SXSW in '92, '93.
My musical influences should not be confused with the answer to the question "who do you sound like?" I have been told I sound like All-American rockers like Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp. But there are touches of folk, country and blues in the songs, too.
My musical influences are varied, though: they range from my mid-60's idols like Tommy James and John Kay to the glitter and glam of David Bowie, Alice Cooper, and Lou Reed. Then there are the songwriters: Nick Drake, Lyle Lovett. Then there are the purveyors of '77: the Clash, the Ramones, Blondie, Elvis Costello. Each influence me in certain areas, some in writing, some in singing, some in just doing it. But do I sound like any of them? Doubtful...but you be the judge!
Gibson, Martin and Epiphone acoustic guitars. When playing electric, it's exclusively Fender Stratocasters plugged directly into a silver face Deluxe with no effects. Never!