Robert Cray

  • August 21, 2022
  • Buskirk-Chumley Theater
  • 114 E. Kirkwood Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47408
  • (812) 323-3020
  • 8:00 PM
  • $45-$60

Hearing is a funny thing. It's not just receiving sound — it's understanding and interpreting it, making sense of the various vibrations swirling around our heads. That's how two people can listen to the same thing, and come away with opposite impressions. The sounds may be the same, but the comprehension isn't. That's What I Heard is the title for this, but it does kind of fit. For example, the first time I played the album, I was struck by what seemed to me to be a distinct Sam Cooke vibe to the music, an impression initially sparked by the rollicking gospel groove of "Burying Ground," but also by the sweet singing and classic 6/8 feel of "You'll Want Me Back."

It wasn't just the churchiness of the former, nor the tuneful sophistication of the latter; it was the way those two elements intertwined to create a feeling that was just as evident in the other songs.

Imagine my surprise, then, to hear drummer and producer Steve Jordan a week later, describing his vision for the album. "I thought if it we could get this thing that Sam Cooke used to have, the kind of sound that early Sam Cooke records had, that we could pull this off," he said. Hey, that's what I heard! From Jordan's perspective, getting that sound had two components. First, the artist has to be able "to perform at a live capacity, a very high level," he said. "The way Robert sings and plays, that's at the highest level. So, boom. We got that." The second requirement is having the environment and personnel capable of capturing that sort of energy. In an age of bedroom studios and digital recording apps, there aren't a lot of people left who know how to capture that live-in-the-studio excitement. "Fortunately, the person who got that sound, I happen to know personally," Jordan explains. "And that's the great Al Schmidt," who Jordan paired with the equally excellent Niko Bolas. ("They're very close friends," he said.)

Doors open at 7pm for this reserved seating event. The estimated length of the show is 100 minutes. Wearing a mask indoors is strongly encouraged. Vaccine verification or negative covid test results within 48 hours required to enter the venue. 

Robert Cray