Robert K. (Rob) Wolf has been writing and performing music for over 30 years. With his engaging, versatile, and inimitable American style, he has garnered attention from listeners, writers, performers, and industry players alike.
At the age of 19, Wolf signed his first publishing contract. He was then introduced to Duke Anderson, with whom he studied theory and arranging until 1983. Anderson worked with the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Stan Kenton as an accompanist, copyist and arranger. Wolf still cites him as his most important influence.
While continuing his music studies throughout the 1980’s, Rob performed frequently in cover bands and taught nearly 70 private students. He earned a BA in Music from Fairleigh Dickinson University (with honors), concentrating on guitar, theory and writing. It was at FDU’s Madison NJ campus where he received two full tuition merit scholarships and two awards for Outstanding Achievement in Music.
His first album, Travelin’ Songs (“establishes himself as a talent to watch.” —CMJ New Music Weekly) received airplay in the New York, Boston and Philadelphia markets. Life Mileage, Wolf’s next effort, revealed a deeper and sometimes darker view. He performed the cuts “Do You Mind If I Write You a Love Song” and “Couldn’t Forget You If I Tried” as a finalist in the 1995 Riverbank Talent Competition (Stow, MA). During that same year, Rob peered into New York City’s Fast Folk Cafe and was overwhelmed by the venue/magazine’s vivid history of cultivating and documenting the work of performing songwriters, including Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett, Suzanne Vega, John Gorka and Michelle Shocked. He quickly developed a reputation in the surrounding community as a formidable songwriter and player. This prompted the late Jack Hardy, Fast Folk’s founder and legendary singer/songwriter, to take Rob on as guitarist for two European tours and his eleventh album, The Passing.
In 1996, Wolf headed for Nashville. He respected the fierce individualism of the New York scene but had long seen co-writing as a potent vehicle. Among those with whom he put pen to paper over the years include Peter Scherer of EMI recording artists Mr. Reality, Ken Darcy, Gavin West, Joseph and Theresa Brunelle, Lisa Aschmann, Geoff Reid, Brett Jones, Barbara Cloyd, Rand Bishop, C.J. Watson, James Otto, Jason Matthews, Lisa Carver, Jonathan Long, and longtime friend Tom D’Ovidio. “Not Too Far From Texas”, a co-write with Andy Gullahorn, led to a single-song contract with Nashville’s Major Bob Music. Rob and his wife Lori J. Ingberg (whom he met in Nashville) earned Honorable Mentions in both the Great American and the CMT/NSAI Song Contests with “The Safest Place I Know”.
Wolf’s third album, Y2K-OTIC, was produced by Sam Weedman. The title track–cowritten with Rachel Owen–took a skewed, playfully irreverent look at the madcap preparations that some of us made as the year 2000 reared its, well, not-so-ugly head. Distributed worldwide on Creative Labs’ NOMAD (one of the world’s first commercially available mp3 players), the song prompted a group in Brussels to invite Wolf to play. Wolf was also proud to learn that the band Hurricane Camille performed it on a U.S. Army base in Japan on January 1, 2000—with no catastrophic consequences. The album’s haunting “The Flower Was Gone” kicked off a historic Fast Folk Musical Revue at New York City’s now tragically defunct The Bottom Line. It was at this show that Fast Folk’s archives were officially accepted by The Smithsonian Institution. Wolf, as a bonus, received the dubious honor of being banned for life from playing at the Lamb of God Fellowship in West Orange, NJ after having rendered the song as opening act for his friend Dave Murphy. The phrase “breast was a stone” was the clincher.
Not quite satisfied with coma-inducing songwriting blandness, Wolf took his blazingly, politically, and religiously incorrect “Cross Dressing For Christmas” and became a winner in the 2003 Great American Song Contest, received airplay in numerous markets (including Washington DC drive time), and hit #4 on mp3.com. His very well-received, over-the-top-and-then-some “IntaMezo” attempted to shatter the long-held belief that hip-hop can’t be performed by an overweight, Brooklyn-born Jewish guy from New Jersey squirming in the buckle of the Bible Belt.
“IntaMezo” is amongst the songs on Wolf’s most recent release, Drivin’ You Away. On the album, he pays homage to Nashville the best way he knew how: by getting some of Music City’s best studio musicians involved. Fast and live tracking, analog mixing, and freewheelin’ were the rule of the sessions. On hearing the record for the first time, Wolf Music (no relation) signed all of the songs.
Rob still lives in Nashville, where he thrives on the vast, rich community of talent. And that’s where he’s staying. To keep on his craft. To keep those songs coming….