Robert Thomas Kuhlmann is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer with an unaffected charm that comes across in the sweet honesty of his words and the simple imagery of his songs.
Over the years, he has won over audiences through his live performances, which are characterized by his raw, yet tender, vocals and lilting guitars. He has proven that he is as much at home performing solo on a barren Austin, TX, stage at SXSW, as he is backed by a full band. Although his style can range from acoustic ballads to ringing Stratocasters, the music is always heartfelt and emotional.
Robert was an active participant during the formative years of the St. Louis punk/new wave/power pop scene in the late 70’s. After a brief stint in the legendary Citizens, he teamed up with bassist George Schneller, becoming founding members of two of the area’s more influential bands in the early 80’s: the 60’s influenced, power-pop trio Dear John (along with drummer Larry Wilke) and the edgier, alt-pop Page Three (with Kevin Brueseke on drums and guitarist Randy Erickson.)
After relocating to Venice, California during the summer of 1985, Robert and George honed their songwriting skills and performed their brand of heartland rock and roll in clubs around Southern California initially as the Orchids and later as The Last American Heroes.
In 1994, Robert released a solo acoustic CD entitled Confidential Reasons, a collection of excursions into the realms of ambition and desire, secrets and confessions, hope and heartbreak. Confidential Reasons was more a collaboration between friends than a formal recording – Robert and George shared songwriting and performance credits, and were joined by fellow musicians Jerry Giddens (Walking Wounded) and the late Ethan James (Double Nickels on the Dime).
His rockin’ sensibilities were featured on 2005’s The R & D Project, which showcased the varied influences of Robert’s partnership with fellow lyricist/songwriter Don Jung. From up-tempo, guitar-driven rock and roll to country-tinged ballads, the collection is a reflection of the pair’s musical styles and interests. Common to both, though, is their passion for well-crafted pop songs with a romantic edge, and the CD features a song cycle that resonates with emotion as it traces the timeline of love.
Robert has also been recognized time and again as a songwriter. In 2007, Kuhlmann and co-writer Doug Sparks were recognized for their exceptional songwriting ability for the song One Wish, and were named Runner Up by the Song of the Year songwriting contest. One Wish was among three collaborations with Sparks that can be heard on the NoVanGogh recording My Own Gallery.
Previously, Robert had been selected by the organizers of Farm Aid 6 as a regional finalist in the Cuervo Quest for Farm Aid Gold, and performed in the regional competition. The winners of the regional finals eventually proceeded to Ames, Iowa and competed for the opening slot at 1993’s Farm Aid concert.