Profiles The Elvis of the Eighties?

It’s a toss-up whether Robert Lee Kolb is famous as a local musician-made-good, or infamous as the fast talking man who straps on his guitar as his dream machine. Whichever way he blitzes you – and blitz he will – Robert Lee has been making an indelible impression on people around town ever since he caught wind that progressive country music was moving and shaking in Texas, and left his native Bossier City for a spot under the lights.

“I’m going to be the Elvis Presley of the 1980s,” crows the rapid-fire talker who labels his music, much of which is original and quite incredible, “progressive country rock.” Or better yet, “raw kick-ass country.” There’s no question Robert Lee has Elvis’ wiggles, bumps and grinds down pivot perfect. A newspaper account once reported that his fans had voted him having “the best hips in town.” His highly energetic stage presentation keeps him and the place hopping. “I draw every ounce of energy from my body during a show,” he says. And if you were among theoglers during his stint with the Bingo Band last year at the Randy Tar, or before that with the group Cotton at thenow defunct Lock, Stock and Barrel, you would know he speaks the truth about physical effort.

Because he was “tired of pressures on the road” and is ready to “mellow out again,” Kolb can be found again at the Randy Tar with a brand new back-up group and a predominantly acoustic sound.

“I tried for one year to be the best rock and roll show band around,” he says. “I’m no super star yet, so I’ll just lay back for a while and stop pushing so hard.”

At times it has been difficult to discern if Kolb is succeeding through his musical expertise or his Bruce Springsteen flash and penchant for braggadocio. “I have more rhythm in me than blood,” he claims, adding that he realizes that his guitar-playing and singing aren’t the greatest. He feels that because he is “different” and ambitious off-stage as well as on, record companies have failed to give due credit to his talents. Some critics have suggested he concentrate on putting more proof in the pudding and forgetting about the pizazz. But for a guy whojust five years ago was earning his keep by selling shoes, what Kolb has to offer isn’t bad stuff.

Admittedly, he does have a great stage look and laugh, just the right touch of naivete and a wide-eyed appeal. Robert Lee feels his voice is his strong suit. Yet running a very close second is his top knot. Or, rather, lack of it.

He may have something when he flatly states, “Hair was to the Beatles what baldness is to me.” His shoulder-length coif dead-ends midway up the scalp, making him look cast-worthy for a Star Trek episode. And as strange as it may seem, his skinned head works the same mysteries as David Allan Coe’s bad black hat.

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