Bob Mauldin. Photo credit: 31 West Productions
Texas TV show host and country artist Bob Mauldin chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos, who met the Renaissance man, who can go a long way in his work on television and on stage, but always returns home to East Texas.
He’s a singer-songwriter, and Bob Mauldin does even more. The East Texas designer has the kind of talent that can’t be limited to a specific career path.
For more than 10 years, he beamed into thousands of homes as the host of Expedition Texas, a syndicated television show that takes a historical look at the places and people of the great state. AND yet, there’s another TV show he’s created, which stars Mauldin as his alter ego, Halloween Harvey, a spooky host, reviewing B – Horror Flicks. The program became a fan favorite on Retro TV and developed a dedicated following.
Mauldin has honed his broadcasting skills since the mid-90s when he went to work as a DJ at KNUE 101.5 FM, a top country station for many years in the East Texas market. This job eventually led Bob to run his own radio station, as program director. But, while playing music from other peoples, Mauldin knew he had his own stories that he wanted to tell through singing and songwriting.
In 2001, Bob recorded a song called “Baby”, which began to be played by a popular DJ. Nashville broadcast legend Tom Perryman, who worked in Texas, was celebrating local music. When the song started airing, Bob was booked into theaters and opened for country music legends like Hank Thompson, Tony Douglas and Eddy Raven.
A few albums in between and suddenly Bob signed an independent recording contract in 2011. He released “Van Zandt County Line”, which included a single with artist Billy Joe Shaver, titled “Ride Me Down Easy “. Mauldin said, “It was great working with one of my heroes, and then knowing the song got a lot of airplay was incredibly rewarding.
He released the album “Summer Days” in 2019, which was compiled of music that embraced major changes taking
place in Mauldin’s life at the time. The project was a combination of inspiration, grief and reflection.
Fast forward to 2022 and Mauldin releases his latest work in the form of “Colfax 85”, where he takes audiences back to where he was raised and celebrates the people who raised him. He pays homage to the family and community that shaped his view of the world.
Bob, tell us what inspired the name of this album.
Colfax is a small community in Van Zandt County where I grew up. A lot of the stories on the album were born out of ideas planted there at that time… 1985. A lot of the ones I grew up came from there.
Expand the theme of the project a bit.
It’s about home and family. This album is generally quite positive and I write again for pleasure. I’m happy with the mix of songs and the fact that I played most instruments except steel and banjo. There are more stories on this album and a lot less heartbreak. It reflects a very happy place in my life right now.
What musical genre would this album fall under?
Certainly the country… as defined by whom? I do not know. It’s my idea of country music.
It’s been a few years since your previous album. What made you decide it was time to record another one?
I never stopped recording after “Summer Days” (2019) and there are songs recorded for this album that I still haven’t released. These are songs that I liked a lot, but they did not correspond to the direction that I wanted
move in for this album, so they’ll stay on the shelf for now. I wanted to go in a more authentic direction for this one and give people a more stripped down version of my music. It’s not acoustic or anything…it’s just more about the basic original feel of these songs and I didn’t want to get carried away with the production. Because I played most of the parts, it took nearly three years of on and off recording to get a full album.
How is this album different from your previous work?
Maturity, I think. One of my first albums was recently reissued and I listened to the songs and the way I was expressing myself again. I can hear a difference not only in the song lyrics, but in the arrangement choices.
How many songs have you written or co-written?
I wrote everything on this one except Far Side Banks of Jordan by the great Terry Smith, Wanted Man written by a certain Bob Dylan and Little Bird by the late Jerry Jeff Walker.
What is your songwriting process?
They come in all different ways. Songs like You Still Drive Me Crazy – in my sleep. I woke up with the whole song playing in my head and I had to learn to play what I heard. Others came from a desire to tell a story of someone important to me. Cuthand Kid was about my grandfather and his youth in a little place called Cuthand in Red River County, Texas. Rena Bell Blue is pretty much the color of my grandmother’s eyes.
Others are just songs that I thought people would like. People who heard it really love Texas In A Chevy and it’s because they wanted to write a song about this beautiful place that I call home. There is no set process for writing. I don’t just sit down with a pen and paper and plan to write. They come to me and I just listen to what’s going on and make it happen.
I have dozens of little voice recordings on my phone from an idea that popped into my head at some random time and I used to sing it or hum it into my phone so I could remember it when I would have had time to write it.
You are a television host and producer, having created several shows. You are also a singer-songwriter. What is the most difficult?
Creating music is easier. Finding success with him is more difficult. Creating the TV show is more difficult. It is easier to find success with.
Tell us about the tour of this album that you are preparing.
I’ve put together a group of people that I’ve worked with before, that I’m very excited to play with. There are also new people coming and I can’t wait for you to hear them play. I really think we’re going to have fun. The shows will feature most of the songs from the album, the best songs from previous albums, and some old country tunes that people are familiar with.
At some shows, I will have guests. My songs and my dad sang with me on “The Cuthand Kid” so where they feel comfortable they will join me on stage. My son Clay is a great little singer, so he’ll be singing with me on that one and on “Far Side Banks of Jordan.” My wife, Tessa, sings with me on “Little Bird,” so I’ll try to get her on stage here and there too.
What’s the best part of the performance? »
When it works. There are times when you play in venues where people come there to hear the music. They really want to hear what you have to say and listen to every word. Those times when the band is really on the beat are the best. It makes what I do very rewarding.
To learn more about Bob Mauldin, visit his official site.