What Would You Do?
OUTRAGED BY THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS? ROBERT TEMPLE'S NEW CD TAPS INTO POST 9/11 ZEITGEIST BY ASKING 'WHAT WOULD YOU DO?' Bay Area Singer/Songwriter's Soul-Folk Style Provides Backdrop For Politically Charged Anthems For Our Times Temple's Music Described By Fans and Critics Alike as Passionate, Moving and Urgent-Spiced With A Biting Sense of Humor and Catchy as Hell The provocative cover image on the CD booklet of What Would YOU Do?, veteran Bay Area singer/songwriter Robert Temple's incendiary new recording, says a lot about this artist, his music and his times. Taken at a rally protesting the War in Iraq, the image shows the intense face of a woman painted with the letters, NO WAR; superimposed on this are several smaller photos, including one of an injured baby and another of a soldier ordering a civilian to the ground. Drawing from the best tradition of an earlier generation's folk music and combining that with his love for classic R&B, rock and soul, Temple asks his listeners to examine just what's going on in our country and in our lives. Writing music designed to challenge the status quo-and to inspire the disillusioned and apathetic-he creates perhaps the ultimate socially conscious recording for post 9-11 America. The colors behind the cover photo are black, orange and tan, creating a vibrant and unsettling backdrop that reflects the probing nature of the 13 songs. 'I've always written politically active, socially conscious songs that reflect exactly what I'm feeling, and to make music that is challenging and interesting, that inspires people to think about standing up to the system while they dance along,' says Temple, whose full ensemble name is robert temple and his soul folk ensemble. 'What Would YOU Do is about our modern world, a wake up call to get people to examine just what's going on both within our country and our role on the world stage. 'I see the title as not only ruminating over a complete turnaround of reality, wondering how people might react if 'you were walking in your hometown, fires were burning all around,' but as a call to action,' he adds. 'I am angry and my anger has taken the form of writing the best songs I can that try to go to the root of and expose the insanity and the rationales of the powers that be in waging war and empire.' Drawing as much from the spirit of Bob Dylan as James Brown and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band in equal measure, 'What Would YOU Do? is co-produced by Temple with Cal Reichenbach and features Temple's mixture of soulful vocals and open tuned acoustic guitar. It's probing songs capture Temple's colorful, multi-faceted musical vibe. 'The lyrics, musical chops and lead vocals were impressive...I can see radio embracing this record. Robert is clearly a talented artist on the rise,' says Eugene Foley of Foley Entertainment. From the get-go, Temple achieves a heartfelt exploration of contemporary headlines. 'Pretty Good Day' was inspired by his vision of 'what it must be like to be an Arab American in the U.S. after 9-11.' The songs that follow explore a wide variety of relevant, thought provoking subjects, starting with the bluesy 'Save Life,' which ponders Gandhi's idea that 'an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.' It explores the irony of equating running into a burning building to save a life with waging war. Tim Morse, Promotions Director, National Recorder, Loco Pop PR, says 'The timing is better than ever for this kind of message to actually reach people and strike a chord.' 'Lift Us Up' touches on Temple's gentle, spiritual side with a veiled tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., while the simple funk of 'Turn Signal' offers some comic relief by drawing attention to that little stick on the steering column that many of us annoyingly and dangerously ignore. 'why don't you help us out and give it a flip.. .Cause you've never driven behind you,' he sings. 'Bomb Mendocino' is an upbeat, tongue in cheek soul rocker about a certain stumbling politician confusing the words 'tourist' and 'terrorist,' while those tourists shop, oblivious to the reality of war going on halfway around the world. Temple taps into his lifetime of political activism in 'Step By Step,' about a time when he was a cab driver dropping off a fare in the outer Mission section of San Francisco. The song poignantly recalls him telling his passengers about his arrest in that very spot in 1970 while rallying students to stage a walkout to object to the invasion of Cambodia. Their reaction inspires the line that follows. 'Stand for what you stand for, never lose your grip, just go step by step.' 'Writing music is what I, a son of a plumber, middle class Polish, Russian, Romanian, Jewish kid from New Jersey have come up with in my journey as a young political activist, construction worker, steel mill worker, cab driver, father of three, grandfather of one, in an effort to both understand myself and contribute to a better world' Temple claims. 'I probably would have been like any other middle class Jersey kid who was born in the 50s if it hadn't been for civil rights and Vietnam. I took sides early on and developed a sense of justice for the world.' While he listened to his mother's folk music and dabbled in guitar as a child, he only started seriously pursuing music as a career path in the early 80s. Inspired by a song that came to him about the Vietnam era called 'We Ain't Forgot,' he started taking voice and guitar lessons-and within a few months moved his whole family (including three kids) from Cleveland to the richer musical pastures of Oakland, California. Starting in the mid-80s, Temple formed several successful local bands that played throughout the Bay Area . Unruly World tapped into the burgeoning world music craze, drawing from rock, funk and African influences. He led the rock soul ensemble Robert Temple & Serious Noyz from 1996-99, performing at such hotspots as Hotel Utah, La Pena, and at such cultural festivals as San Francisco's infamous Bay To Breakers race. When he started to focus on his solo career, he honed his chops as a singer and guitarist, developing a finger picking style that featured a variety of open tunings. His critically acclaimed previous CD If He Could Only Reach Her featured songs like 'Who Drops The Bomb' (inspired by the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999) and marked the first guitar tuning he ever made up for a song. 'It became my trademark,' he says. 'Playing without a pick, I could go from more folky finger picking to a funky syncopated strum on the acoustic guitar.' 'Robert's voice sounds like sex....like chocolate...like money...like everything,' said Jim Dean, who produced that CD. 'His acoustic guitar work is some of the sweetest to listen to...heaven sent,' added James Ehrlich, Executive Producer/Director of 'The Hippy Gourmet' TV show. While working on his new album and gearing up for it's release with his band, robert temple and his soulfolk ensemble, Temple has, naturally, been performing at various political benefits. 'I love living in Oakland and playing there and in San Francisco,' he says. 'There are people from so many cultures, the musicians are amazing, and there's a political atmosphere that allows artists like me to speak their minds. The food's really good too.'