Episode #198 — George Michael Reborn with Robert Bartko

Never let it be said that we bring up topics one week, only to completely forget about them the next. In fact, now that we’re nearing 200 episodes, maybe we should do some sort of “Where are they now?” very special episode. Not that we’d have to investigate very hard — if our guests are on social media or have a website, we’re often checking in to see what they’re up to. All within reason, of course. Much like Adam Ant, we’re desperate, but not serious.

That being said, if there is any animal, vegetable, or mineral we’ve talked with or about that you’d like some follow up (or closure!) on, let us know! It goes both ways, too. If, through Why?, you have discovered a band, found a new hobby, purchased an item, or interacted with one of our fabulous guests in some way, we’d love to hear about it. Adopted a haunted doll? Tell us more (including if you hear it creeping around at night)! Gone naked sky diving? Give us the play-by-play. Attended one of Nicky Siano’s DJ gigs and want to know even more about him? Your wish is our command!

But for now, since we’re at episode #198, let’s focus on the present. Or two days after the present that this blog should have been ready. So, back to the future? No, screw it! Let’s go back to the 80s and 90s and focus on the music of one of the world’s best singers, songwriters, and performers — George Michael. For this week’s episode we chatted with Robert Bartko, who impersonates George Michael in the stage show “George Michael Reborn.” His love for Wham! and George Michael’s solo work is as strong as Heidi’s, so we had a spirited conversation.

Look, there’s been a lot of booty shaking throughout the history of popular music. Elvis may have been called Elvis the Pelvis, but you can’t shake your pelvis without working that backside. EU had “Da Butt,” Groove Armada had “I See You Baby,” and both KC and the Sunshine Band and Wreckx-n-Effect encouraged shaking it. But for many of us, the pivotal butt shaking moment was the video for George Michael’s “Faith.” Organ version of “I Don’t Want Your Freedom” playing on the jukebox? Check. A shot of George’s perfectly imperfect facial scruff? Also check. Plenty of shots of him moving his butt to the guitar chords? 1000% check. It was many years ago, but it still occupies a place in the file cabinet of my brain. And I’m not the only one, which is why tribute artist Robert Bartko plays to sold-out venues and screaming fans.

Obviously, it’s not just about George Michael’s jeans and leather jacket — the jacket burns up in his “Freedom! ‘90” video, after all. It’s about his talent, magnetism, and musical prowess. We completely understand why there’s a market for a tribute artist like Robert, but we explored why in depth and learned about how it almost seemed destined for Robert to perform and create a complete George Michael experience. When enough friends, people in the music industry, and even band members who performed with George Michael tell you that you look and sound just like him, a wise person pays attention.

Robert shared with us what it’s like to be an impersonator (and whether that term, or another one, is preferred), what sorts of crowds he plays to, and why he thinks people want to share in the experience of a George Michael tribute show. We had plenty of questions for him, including whether he’s ever considered doing a show with a certain sexy sax player. Let’s just say the answer blew our minds.

If you’d like to know more about George Michael Reborn, check out Robert’s website, on Instagram or Facebook page. He’s got lots of photos and videos, so you can get a sense of what one of his shows is like. We’re ready to see him live! In the meantime, we’ve got to work on getting out of Wham! and George Michael pun mode. He’s got a song title for every occasion and if we’re not careful we’ll still be using them well into episode #202.

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