Thomas Bartlett

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Pianist and New Yorker Thomas Bartlett was raised in rural Vermont by two devoted intellectuals. For the most part self-educated, save a few failed attempts at public high school and 1.5 semesters at Columbia, he is perhaps the most famous person you’ve never heard of.

A studio artist who plays alongside the likes of David Byrne, Yoko Ono, Rufus Wainwright, Grizzly Bear, Antony and the Johnsons and The National; last year he toured with Nico Muhly.

Ineffably gentle, he has a modest but electric air of genius. One wonders why an artist so respected and sought after wouldn’t commit to one of the many big and bright names; the fact that he doesn’t makes him all the more alluring. Bartlett, instead, chooses to hummingbird-it, always after the more adventurous or groundbreaking endeavor.

Back in 2006, a friend of Bartlett’s approached him about an album that would be a vague tribute to a late sister. The friend wanted him to cover the Footloose soundtrack. The teenage sister had tragically died in a car crash in the late eighties, and one of the only things her still-bereaved brother had left was her Footloose soundtrack.  Bartlett agreed immediately, and brought a sadness and a sweetness no-one knew songs about dancing in spandex could hold.

Thomas Bartlett, whose alias “Doveman” couldn’t better suit the soaring, meandering genius of his fast fingers and hushed lullaby voice, performs Saturday, 11/20 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland in support of The Swell Season.

Listen to tracks from his most recent album, The Conformist, here, check out his website ; better yet, follow his quiet humor and perceptions on Twitter.


Kathleen Alcott’s first words were “Ooh, the lights,” and they will probably be her last. Her debut novel, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, is forthcoming from Other Press in September of 2012. She came of age in Northern California, studied in Southern California, fell in love with San Francisco, hid for a while in Arkansas, and presently resides in Brooklyn. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Slice Magazine, American Short Fiction, Rumpus Women Vol. 1, and The Bold Italic. A copywriter by day, she is currently at work on her second novel, a book that traces the lives of four tenants of an apartment building in New York City and their rapidly deteriorating landlord. Excerpts and thoughts at kathleenalcott.com. More from this author →