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About me: Bob Padgett’s songwriting has always been about real life. His own story, hopes, and dreams, as well as the heartaches, joys, and struggles of those he loves, have always pervaded his creative world and music, often with intimate transparency. Moved by Bob’s candid, self-revelatory performing and writing, listeners have been known to compare him to (more...)

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A Christmas Carol: Debriefing the Dickens Festival Concert 2013 (With Pictures & Setlist)

2013 December 11
by Bob
Dickens Festival With Tom!

Thanks to everyone who came out for Saturday’s show in Port Jefferson! What a wonderful evening.

Tom and I had a great time sharing a mix of Christmas tunes and some of my original music. I had really been itching to share the new songs I’ve written since the concert in October: Wild At Heart, I Will Ask You, and The Hero Of Your Story. It was a treat to see many of you at the show! I was so glad to have some former Hegeman guys there for “All Around The Table,” and it’s always a great thing as a performer to have some familiar faces that represent mutual affection and support, especially in the midst of a larger and varying audience.

Playing Port Jeff’s Dickens Festival is rather unlike the average performance. One fun and quirky thing about doing a set on that weekend is that existing alongside a stable audience population, other people also stroll in and out from and to their shopping and walking about in the village to take a break and enjoy the show for a few numbers. There’s something spontaneous–and daunting!–about an audience that is never entirely static. It’s different and more distracting from the mellower, intimate settings to which I would default, but also a great experience. It’s also a challenging gig because you really hit the ground running. Most venues are booked fairly solidly all day long, so a performer rarely gets preparation or even warmup time on stage before showtime. As it was this year, we set up mics and did an apologetic sound check to a nearly full house just a few minutes before showtime.

Many thanks to Pastor Pete Jansson of Island Christian Church’s Port Jeff Campus, the hosting venue for our concert. He and the whole church were wonderful hosts to us and to all the goings on of the festival. It’s been six years since the last time I was there at Port Jeff for the Dickens Festival–with my Stony Brook School Chamber Singers at the time. This same church (at the time it was Port Jefferson Baptist Church) was also the Chamber Singers’ recurring venue during those years, which added to the fun and nostalgia for me! It was amazing to see all the wonderful renovations and improvements that Island Christian Church has made to the building, while ostensibly showing great honor and respect to the history of the building and to the Village of Port Jefferson. Everything looked beautiful, current, well-maintained, and at once historic and unchanged. A real feather in their cap. Everyone we met and spoke with gave us further reason to believe that ICC and Pastor Pete have become fixtures in the community, which also makes me happy as a one-time resident of Port Jeff myself.

Here’s the setlists from the gig, and I’ve included a few photographs that a fan captured for me. Also, a big shout out to comedian (comedienne?) Sarah Quinn for volunteering some major tech support out of the kindness of her heart. Thanks, Sarah!

All songs in bold are by me; the rest were our spin on traditional Christmas tunes. Lyrics on all my tunes are linked from the song titles.


  1. Joy To The World
  2. O Come O Come Emmanuel
  3. All Around The Table
  4. Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming
  5. Wild At Heart – the lullaby I wrote for my son last month
  6. Christmas Time Is Here
  7. no one else
  8. What Child Is Thismy own version, with the traditional words set to original music
  9. Jingle Bells


  1. God Rest You Merrymy own version, with the traditional words set to original music
  2. The Little Drummer Boy
  3. Away in a Manger Mashup/Medley
  4. I Will Ask Younew CrowdSong
  5. It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
  6. Christmas Time Is Here
  7. The Hero Of Your Storynew CrowdSong
  8. Silent Night

Rocking Christmas, Dickens Style (Concert Announcement!)

2013 November 29
by Bob
Tom & Bob Concert At PJ Dickens Fest!

Click to download as a holiday keepsake?
(Or perhaps as a concert poster/reminder.)

Hey, Gang! I’m doing a show with Tom at the Port Jeff Dickens Festival!

We’re planning to do some Christmas remixes and a few other tunes. I’m also eager to share some of the new songs I’ve written, like Wild At Heart, The Hero Of Your Story, and I Will Ask You. If you have a request for a Christmas song or one of my originals that you’d really like to hear, you can leave a comment here on this post and we’ll do what we can!

The show is next Saturday, December 7th–right in the heart of the Dickens Festival weekend. If you’ve never taken a few hours to wander and enjoy the Dickens Festival that Port Jeff puts on, it’s a real treat. Concerts all over the place, actors walking the street in period garb and calling you guv’nor as they tip their hats, plus all the warm, welcoming goodness you’ll find in The Village of Port Jefferson all year long. Including a great little Starbucks to get your seasonally-appropriate-beverage fix.

When I was at Stony Brook, I used to bring my Chamber Singers to the Dickens Festival for a concert every December, right in the same performance space we’ll be playing in this year (it used to be called Port Jefferson Baptist Church, and now it’s the Port Jeff campus of Island Christian Church). It’s a wonderful space acoustically, and Island Christian Church has been doing some wonderful things there in the Port Jeff Community.

The great folks running the festival have given us the 5:30 & 6:30 PM time slots. We’re planning to do two sets, with a short break in the middle for people who may be coming in or going out.

Bob Padgett & Tom Manuel – Live at The Port Jefferson Dickens Festival 2013
Saturday, December 7th, 2013 at 5:30 PM
Hosted by Island Christian Church – Port Jefferson Campus 
315 E. Main Street, Port Jefferson, NY 11777
(631) 473-9229
Free & Open to the Public

(Handy Google Maps link)

Here’s a link to the Event Page on Google+.
And here’s a link to the Event Page on Facebook.
If you’re coming, let us know either here in the comments or on one of the event pages. Looking forward to seeing you! And please, spread the word–invite others you think would be interested in coming!

Again, if you have any song requests–Christmas tunes or maybe a Bob Padgett original you’ve been itching to hear–you can leave a comment here. Cheers, everyone!

There or square,


The Story Behind A CrowdSong™: I Will Ask You

2013 November 26
by Bob

Fruitful QuestionsThe Wrong Questions

I was having a tough morning. One of those days where things aren’t adding up. One of those I-don’t-understand-why-things-are-working-out-this-way kind of days. One of those I-know-God-is-always-good-but-I-clearly-don’t-have-the-whole-picture-because-none-of-this-makes-sense days.

What I wanted and felt that I needed was not matching what I had and what I was getting. In the midst of the tension I felt, I was tempted to bust out the usual questions. You know, the easy questions, not the good ones.

Questions like,

  • “Why isn’t this working out?”
  • “Why are we experiencing this?”
  • “Why is my heart breaking so?”
  • “Why don’t these “needs” feel met?”
  • “Why haven’t we seen more success/progress/breakthrough in this area?”

These are questions that are easy for me to default to. And when I do, WHY turns to WHINE very quickly.

The Right Questions

But, as timing would have it, I have been working with my five-year-old son on asking the right questions. I’ve been trying to challenge him to rethink and rephrase (or radically change) his questions when he is essentially asking (in different words, of course), “How can I get what I want on my own terms? At no cost to myself?” I heard in my own questions echoes of his ones. And thankfully, I stopped.

But the sad and confusing stuff was still there. I was still sad. Still struggling. It was time to ask the right questions. I sensed God welcomed the discussion, if I was ready to ask my questions on His terms. And the process that followed drove me to the piano, where I began wrestling with my questions and what I should really be asking.

I realized that a new song was on its way, and I decided I wanted to invite you all into the process. It was time for some CrowdStorming.


Today I’d like to share some of the heart behind the CrowdStorming™ process. You see, when I get writing, my songs tend to get incredibly personal and transparent. I value that about my music, and I gather from feedback that many of you do as well. But I’ve also learned, in a lifetime of tears and laughter, that there can be a very unique and meaningful beauty for others and their experience of a work of art when it leaves enough room for others to do some personalizing (to borrow a term from Sandy Valerio, one of my choral directors and teaching mentors).

To put it another way: As a performer, listener, or recipient of a musical work, it’s wonderful when, some of the time, there’s enough room in the subtext for you to climb in and feel at home, set your heavy bags down on the floor and unpack some of your own heart and emotions. Does that make sense?

And so I invited you dear people on Facebook (and Google+) to share your heart and keep my vision broad so this new song would be bigger than my own heart, my own questions, my own struggles. I really think it is, too. I’m excited about this one. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the space for comments below.

And so, a new CrowdSong™ was born. I’m happy to introduce you to the lyrics of I Will Ask You. I hope your heart will find some space to be at home in this one, and I can’t wait for a chance to sing it for all of you.

You know, I am hoping to do another show with Tom before Christmas….


Journal Of A Stay-At-Home Dad & Musician: Considering Priorities & Creative Drive

2013 November 22

Friday ReflectionI have tremendous respect and admiration for single parents.

I am a full-time stay-at-home dad and my wife and I deeply value my being this. As I have begun to invest time and energy again in writing and performing, it creates a challenging tension with which I’m sure many of you can identify. Because as I scratch the surface of my musical work, floodgates of ideas and plans and visions bust open–considerably in excess of the time, energy, and financial resources available to be invested.

Today I went for a run and came home so full of ideas that I spent most of two hours processing all of it and getting it down on paper: A detailed vision and plans for a new song that I’m REALLY excited about (lyrics and music still to evolve fully), the germ of another song, several things to share with you and ask you, the concept for a new post for my website, and more.

But what I don’t know is when I will get to sit down and write that new song, to flesh out that other song idea and then write that song, to invite you all into some of the writing process, to share my ideas, to craft the post for my website–to say nothing of attending to last week’s unfinished ideas, posting about the new CrowdSong I wrote a week ago and sharing its lyrics, and the list goes on. As it does for many of us.

In conclusion:
1. Thank you to all of you for caring about my work and music, for being a part of the process, for sharing your enthusiasm and joy when great things happen, and for being patient through the demanding times when I don’t have as much to share with you.

2. All of you who have done some sort of work–particularly in fields where it’s hard to turn off the brain and walk away, and most especially you who are single parents–but have prioritized your parenting or other mentoring, even at the expense of this work and its progress or success and at great cost to yourself: You have my deep respect and high esteem. And, I suspect, far greater rewards, perhaps now and certainly in the future.

CrowdSong™: The Hero Of Your Story (Subtitle: How Did Wilberforce Get Into Those Lyrics???)

2013 November 8
by Bob
CrowdStorming for The Hero Of Your Story

I just finished writing The Hero Of Your Story last night. And I had so much fun including some of you in the process with a little experiment I have dubbed CrowdSong™.

That is, I invited you all into my music, into my process, and enjoyed a real-time conversation with you during a writing session at the piano. (Another time maybe we’ll try a Google+ hangout. This time around I was already in PJs.)

I asked you on Facebook and Google+ who some of your heroes were. One parent talked about her amazing children–how they live their lives and the things they say, and how it stretched and challenged her in really awesome (difficult) ways. I loved what she wrote. I experience the same things with my son, who is one of my biggest heroes. Anyone who knows him well would surely agree that he will be changing the world when he grows up (if not sooner!).

And then, happening in real time during my writing session, several of you were sharing on Facebook about some of your own heroes from movies and books. It was really fun to hear from you, to include you in my process, and especially to look for ways to include YOUR heroes in my song.

What about Wilberforce? Well, one friend, Julie, suggested William Wilberforce (of Amazing Grace cinematic fame) with the postscript “I’ll be seriously impressed if you can work that name into a song.” (To which, of course, I replied outloud in my living room, “Challenge accepted!”) Oddly, Wilberforce proved astonishingly easy to include. The three syllables fit perfectly.

I could write more about the process and the chosen heroes, but I think it’s probably more fun to let you open the Facebook thread in one tab and the lyrics page for The Hero Of Your Story in another tab and let you spot the fruit of all that CrowdStorming™. As of today’s semi-final draft of the song, six heroes are included from the CrowdStorming on Facebook. Can you find all six? Bonus points to the first person who spots each of the CrowdStormed™ heroes who aren’t referred to by their names.

Two things before you go hunting:

  1. I included lots of other heroes as well–I was brainstorming too!
  2. I haven’t read The Catcher In The Rye and I haven’t seen The Last Of The Mohicans. So, Brenna and Margie, I have a little research to do (or maybe a research chat with each of you)–but I do hope that Holden and Nathaniel will find their place either in the outro of this song or in another song for the album/project (gasp–spoiler) that is starting to formulate in my mind. More about that some other time.


Wild At Heart

2013 November 1
by Bob

Wild At Heart - At the pianoWild At Heart.

That’s the name of the new song I wrote two nights ago. With my fly and fancy lifestyle as a stay-at-home dad, let’s just say it’s been a while since I’ve done much writing. And it felt pretty awesome.

I’m excited to play it for all of you–maybe we’ll find us a live venue before too long where I can unveil it to the universe–but in the meantime, the short story is that I wrote this lullaby of sorts for our beautiful son. It’s a song that I started years ago, but I just had the musical material for what has become the refrain of the song. After that, I was essentially stalled. Nearly since its inception, the working title in my mind has been “Wild At Heart.” And for almost as long, I’ve known it would be for our son. But for years, either due to lack of time or creative blocks, it’s been the Song That Refused To Be Written.

But then, as I was working on something only peripherally related to any of this, I felt the nudge to sit down at the piano and rough it through a bit. I don’t think I expected to do much more than check in on the material I had written years ago. But then, something happened, and I started writing. And then, equally unexpectedly, the lyrics came just about like they always do when it’s really working. Two easy verses, and a third that was almost as easy. For me, that last verse often needs a little nuanced attention to find the right way in which to express it. It’s a funny thing–I think it’s because I subconsciously realize it’s my last chance to express that for which the song is written (although once in a while, I weasel out of the three-verses-plus-chorus expectation by using a strophic form like in All Around The Table).

Anyway, he had to wait until he was five, granted, but he’s finally got himself his very own Padgett opus.

Here’s a link to the lyrics, if you’d like to read it thru or explicate it for English class.


Concert With Tom Manuel on October 27th!

2013 October 20
by Bob
Concert Poster!

Hello, everyone! We’ve been back in New York for a little over a year now. I’ll tell you more on the conclusion of our traveling adventures and current life back on Long Island another time.

The news today, though, is that I’ll be performing a concert next weekend. Tom Manuel and I have been working on some plans for collaboration for a while, and we’re putting the wraps on a first live concert next Sunday. Most of you will remember Tom from my Live CD–that’s him on all those sweet trumpet and flugelhorn licks. He added so much to that project. Tom and I have always loved playing together, all the way back to when I brought him on board to teach the jazz program at The Stony Brook School during my early teaching days. (For more, see also Tom’s website here.)

We’re aiming for a chill coffeehouse vibe, and we’ll be performing a mix of hymns and covers of jazz and pop tunes. Tom’s knee deep in work on a Ph.D. and I’m juggling the latest in my stay-at-home dad adventures with the recent advent of a new school year, so we’ve chosen a setlist that leaves us a lot of space for improvisation and doing the free, flexible playing we love best and that will keep things relaxed for everyone. The hymns are mostly the product of a fun, heavily improvisatory recording session we did a few years ago. I hope that recordings of these will see the light of day at some point, but more on that another time. I’m particularly excited about doing those distinctive reworkings of familiar melodies and tunes. Some of you who knew me in the Stony Brook days will hear the influence of what I was doing with some of those hymns back in those chapel times.

The concert will be next Sunday, October 27th, at 6PM at Stony Brook Christian Assembly out in East Setauket–quite near Stony Brook–right on Nicolls Road between Rts. 347 & 25a. Hope lots of you locals can make it! I gather that the church is planning to provide childcare as well, so hopefully that will make it easier for you family bunches to make it.

Tom Manuel & Bob Padgett – Live In Concert
Sunday, October 27th, 2013 at 6:00 PM
Stony Brook Christian Assembly
400 Nicolls Road, East Setauket, NY 11733
(631) 689-1127

(Handy Google Maps link)

Here’s a link to the Event Page on Google+.
And here’s a link to the Event Page on Facebook.
Hop the links if you use one or both and would like to RSVP, and please, invite others you think would be interested in coming! I’m a little short on time for PR these days, so spread the word!!!

There or square,