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Former Bonnie Raitt bassist goes solo route

Freebo could have been a bass player for as long as he wanted. He toured with Bonnie Raitt. He was in demand as a studio performer.

All was well. Except when he was sharing the stage with other performers, he couldn't perform his songs. He felt his creativity as an artist was stifled.

So he took the brave step to go solo. Now, he's the featured attraction and the one writing and recording music for his own albums.

Freebo will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday at Baldwin's Station in Sykesville. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the concert, which will feature a selection of tunes from his albums, including the recently released "Something to Believe."

Prior to the concert, the bass performer turned singer-songwriter discussed with the Times his desire to pursue a solo career, his take on Raitt's influential music and where he finds the motivation to write.

Q: You had really carved a niche for yourself as a bass player, having played for everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Ringo Starr. Why did you make the unusual move to tour on your own?

A: I think the reason I was a pretty decent bass player is because I understood all of the concepts of the music and how it was put together. ... Because I did, I had a lot of ideas. I had production ideas. I had phrasing ideas, rhythmic ideas, production ideas. There's only so much I could put into anybody's music. There's only so much creativity. I realized at some point along the way, probably through frustration in that my creative child was screaming to get out.

Q: So it was time to go solo?

A: I needed to create a vessel into which I could put these ideas. The truth is, when I was playing with Bonnie, I wasn't writing songs. So literally in my 40s, I made a conscious decision to do that. That led me on a journey on focusing on singing and playing the guitar and leading me through my fears.

Q: How's it gone?

A: It's really been an amazing experience. Not only have I got to the point where I truly enjoy what I'm doing as a singer-songwriter, I also have four CDs that I've done. I've won some awards.

Q: What topics are you really drawn to when you write?

A: On my latest CD, the first song is "Standing Ovation." That came from when I was at a friend's funeral. At that funeral, I started thinking about my own funeral. I don't know why. I just did. I thought, what would I like my funeral to be? I thought I would like it to be a celebration of my life and not a sad and somber affair. As I pictured it, I just saw everybody giving me a standing ovation. It's my dream, right?

Q: You're a dog owner and have recorded an album of songs just about them. Do you feel as though people connect with you through the songs you've written about dogs?

A: They feel the emotion. They relate to it with a smile on their face and yet it's completely real.

Q: You've played with so many artists over the years. I have to imagine you've sprinkled some covers into your concert sets?

A: Well, I do a version of "Angel From Montgomery" from time to time and more and more people have been asking for that. It's a beautiful song from John Prine that I had a pleasure and honor of playing with Bonnie hundreds and hundreds of time. ... I also do a version of John Lennon's song "Imagine." It's a very powerful song.

Q: Why has Bonnie Raitt enjoyed the success she has?

A: She has an incredible voice, absolutely one in 7 billion, when you get right down to it. But when she selects a song, she never selects a song that she doesn't really believe in. When she sings, she sings from the depths of the soul. She's not just singing the notes. She's singing a feeling. And I think that's one of the main things that attracts people to Bonnie's music. I think I've picked up that from her, so I try to choose the songs the same way.

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