Local Musician Seeks to Use Music for Healing, Growth
by Theresa Winslow
As a musician, Bob Sima is an enigma.
He prefers playing at a spiritual retreat or someone’s house to crowded bars.And he’s not quite comfortable with being an entertainer. Ideally, he sees himself as a kind of singing self-help guru. Picture Wayne Dyer or Eckhart Tolle strumming away on a guitar.
For now, though, the Davidsonville resident simply wants his music to be heard. His new CD, Thin Little Veil, comes out March 31 and features 11 songs with life-affirming messages. The title is Sima’s reference to the barriers between people, nations and worlds coming down. “Most of my music is about psycho-spiritual things, things I’ve gone through, growth and pain,” he said. “Usually, I see the bright side of things.” The poster for Thin Little Veil features hummingbirds flying out of a Victrola over a field of sunflowers. Above it all are a few lines from the song “Peace Signs and Laugh Lines”: “This place is where magic can happen, beyond what we ever believed. Like rolling hills of sunflowers as far as the eye can see.”
“Bob is a different kind of guy,” said Annapolis musician David Glaser, who has played with Sima several times. “He doesn’t care about how popular he is, or how many shows he plays. He’s in the music for the spiritual side of it.” Sima’s voice and message also have a way of grabbing you, in the same way as Bono of U2, Glaser said. He remembers one concert where Sima donated all his pay to a local homeless shelter, and other times his friend played for free as “service” days to the community. “He’s not your average self-serving musician,” Glaser said.
Sima taught himself the guitar in his teens, and he doesn’t read music. He feels out melodies the same way he feels out lyrics — when the mood strikes him. “I get a kind of feeling in me, almost goosebumps,” he said. “I’ll pick up my guitar and a riff will come out. (Lyrics) sometimes come from a line in a book, sometimes life.”The song “Shine” begins: “If you let your guard down long enough you might just like what lets itself on in. If you open the door just a crack or two you’ll get a flash of what you’ve been missing. These days and days they’ve turned into years and the years have built these walls. But that little ol’ crack lets in a sea of light, and there’s color, color. So you let it shine, shine.” “I want to remind people of the beauty in themselves, remind them of the beauty in the world,” Sima said.
Lifting the veil
Thin Little Veil is his third CD and will be officially released at a concert at Temple Beth Shalom in Arnold. The two previous recordings came out in 2006 and 2008. He said the new music has deeper, richer content. “It’s a little bit bigger, more expansive,” he said. “There’s meat on the bone.”
Susie Markland of Gambrills thought his previous music was plenty darn good.“Oh my God, his songs are freakin’ awesome,” said Markland, who has had Sima play several concerts at her home. “I call him the Pied Piper,” she said.
Sima still has moments when he wonders whether he has what it takes to succeed in music. But there’s less anxiety than there used to be for the 45-year-old single dad as his following grows. He still has his day job running a sales division for a European software company.
Music in me
Sima got serious music about 15 years ago. He was living the American Dream, but was restless and wanted to find more meaning in his life. Then, he heard Dyer speak, and one of things he mentioned about not dying with the music still in you struck a chord. Sima began writing songs and did play in some bars, but quickly discovered that route wasn’t for him. He didn’t want to be background music for a crowd. He wants people to hear the message in his music. “I felt like if I spoke my truth, it could help others see their truths,” he said.
When Sima plays, he experiences a swell of energy he hopes will flow through him to listeners. He certainly reached Susan Phelps of Severna Park. She first heard Sima play at a holistic afternoon at church and bought one of his CDs. “I couldn’t stop playing it,” she said. Later, Phelps invited Sima to play a concert at her home. “His voice is magical,” she said. “His songs tell stories … some stories make you laugh, some touch your heart, but they all move me.”