It is on the 11 September 1966 that Bobby Dirninger
is born… In Colmar, Alsace. “It seems to me I caught the Rock and Blues
virus in my crib.” From childhood onwards he wears out the same old Elvis
and Beatles numbers, playing them hundreds of times over on the record
player. “At that time we felt more in tune with what was happening
culturally in England and the States; in their music, something really
different was going on!”
As an adolescent, Bobby learns the guitar, then the piano. He rapidly begins
his musical apprenticeship, performing a mainly folk repertoire on the
streets and in small cabarets. His heroes from that period are called Bob
Dylan, Woody Guthrie (“Bound for Glory”), identifying himself with them body
and soul, embracing the same kind of vagabond musician’s life described in
In 1991, at a moment’s notice, he replaces the pianist of the American
Blues’ singer ZORA YOUNG for her European Tour, and from then on becomes one
of her regular musicians. Following Zora’s advice, Bobby goes to live in
Chicago in 1992 to immerse himself in the City of the Blues. He regularly
performs solo in the clubs and coffee houses of the “Windy City”, rubbing
shoulders with the cream of Chicago Blues. Bobby also becomes a regular at
Bob Koester’s Jazz Record Mart. Bob Koester is the founder and boss of the
legendary Delmark label (Muddy Waters,
Big Joe Williams, etc.), a veritable sanctuary of black American music,
through which he deepens his knowledge of the Blues.
“In due course, Koester convinced me that Whites will only ever be pale
imitators of the black Blues singers. My quest for “purism” seemed lost at
the outset. And then, living in the United States without papers was
becoming too stressful”.
“In the end”, n°1 on the Powerblues chart 2006
Bobby comes back to France, where he records his first self-produced album
in 1998 (“Bringin’ it all back chez Laurent”, then “Bobby meets Pat” with
the Jazz organist Pat Giraud), while simultaneously devising the show “ La
Route du Blues”, a show for youngsters, which tells the story of the Blues
to children (400 performances for more than 100 000 children).
In 2004, Bobby returns to CHICAGO to record a record for
Zora Young (guitar and piano): “Tore up from
the floor up”. Placing more and more distance between himself and “classical
Blues” in his own compositions, he writes, in between studio sessions, the
nine titles which will figure on “In the end”, the record he records in
France a year later. Firstly brought out independently (Mosaic re-releases
it in 2008), “In the end” immediately meets with a large critical acclaim;
and despite its very electric content, its inspiration is the entire world
of “The Blue Note”. The “Crossroads” magazine rated it “the best Blues
record 2006 made by a Frenchman”, while the French Blues Trophies nominate
Bobby for the category “best European Blues singer”.
This great recognition gives him the opportunity in 2006 to be the opening
act for more “commercial” groups such as Simple Minds, or Willy De Ville in
different festivals and concerts, and in doing so, to touch an even wider
audience. He is enthusiastically received everywhere...
The same year, he is the only European to perform in the “Chicago Blues
Festival”, a large-scale tour on several continents (Russia, Asia, Europe)
alongside Zora Young, John PRIMER and
“The French Connection”, n°1 in the U.S. charts
2007 sees the start of the recording of “Zora
Young with Bobby Dirninger - The French Connection” for the American
Delmark label. The conception of this record is entrusted entirely to Bobby,
from the production to the musical arrangements, even to the choice of the
musicians, likewise for the composition of part of the repertoire. In the
same way as with “In the end” Bobby seeks to diversify the musical palette
to a maximum. Gospel, Rock, Country, Folk. Upon its release in October 2009,
the success in the States is immediate. Reaching N°1 in the US Blues charts
in January 2010 (“Living Blues Charts”), N° 3 on the Roots Music Report,
considered by many American critics as one of the major Blues records of
2010, “The French Connection” is aired constantly throughout the winter on
American Blues radio stations!
Nominated for the Memphis Grammy Awards
This American success story is a first for a Frenchman and the tour that
follows in April 2010 sees the French press giving air time to the event.
The TF1 News, FRANCE INTER (Manu Katché), FRANCE INFO, cover this amazing
“French success story” while the record receives the “French Hot Club’s
special award 2010”. The 6 May 2010, Bobby performs at the Cook Convention
Center Memphis alongside the biggest names in the Blues for the grand
evening of the American BLUES MUSIC AWARDS.
Billy BRANCH and Eddie C. CAMPBELL lengthen the already imposing list of
Blues legends alongside whom the Alsatian performs. “French Connection” is
also nominated for the “best Blues record” at the “JU’S BLUES AWARDS 2010”,
likewise for the prestigious American Jazz magazine “DOWNBEAT”.
During the whole of 2011 the Illinois airports welcome their travellers with
the 14 numbers from “The French Connection”, the album chosen by the Chicago
Cultural Commission to represent the CHICAGO BLUES. “The fact that the
record chosen to represent their cultural heritage was composed and produced
by a Frenchman caused a certain stir in the Blues milieu of the town...”
2013 "The book"
If the Blues and the Blue Note remain the keystone of his music, it’s now
been a long time that Bobby DIRNINGER has been pushing back the limits.
Proof of this are the 11 new compositions recorded with his new group
(several members appeared on “The French Connection”). The 11 new tracks are
glances into the world of the Blues, of course, but equally into rock, ska,
progressive rock of the 70s, folk, jazz. In March “THE BOOK” will be out and
on the shelves, the new CD from this Frenchman on an atypical journey, now
part of “the family” across the Atlantic, but remaining surprisingly unknown
Will 2013 be his year?