The Bobs are doing their thing around the Bay area mostly doing the opening act . But that is where we start to get attention. WE HAVE NO EQUIPMENT!! Bands and managers and promoters absolutely love us. We can squeeze onto a stage full of instruments and do the job! So we open for Frank Zappa at the LA Coliseum. We're big fans and we show up for sound check and get the brush off. He never speaks or acknowledge us. The only person who seems excited about our appearance is the guitar player who we witnessed being read the riot act by Frank for hitting a wrong note. It turns out it was Dweezil Zappa. We go on to open for Robert Palmer, The Grateful Dead, Ray Charles and so on.
The Bobs pack it in! Yes, The Bobs are calling it a wrap. After 33 years, really if you have been reading the blog at all you know it's been longer, we are having are farewell tour. Is this the end and the earth cracks open to swallow us whole? No, we're just moving on. Artists sometime do this. We change what we want to do. Are inspired or drawn to a new project. Richard is pursuing the Duet thing with Dan and Angie. Dan has moved to Minnesota. Richard and Nell are moving back to Richard's family farm in Virginia. I have another band already called Sweet Spot Combo, I play the drums while singing. But I haven't finished my blog yet so I will be here continuing the story of The Bobs and other musical things. Plus we have paid for the website for the next 10 years. I get bored easy so it will keep me busy. There will be archived shows to hear and see so stay tuned were not dead!
Now where was I ? oh yeah,
So now we are a regular feature at the club and we are starting to sound good. Gunnar and Richard start writing and arranging new tunes. The first one they tackle is Helter Skelter by The Beatles. I was totally amazed at what they came up with and we learned the tune and did our first recording to preserve it. We started to perform the tune at Earl's and people went nuts! I had a couple of friends who had a record company, Kaleidoscope records, and I invited them to one of our shows with the hope they would be interested in producing out first record. They were and our first record The Bobs was released in 1984. It was kind of a hit because no onehad ever heard an accapella band before like us. That arrangement of Helter Skelter gave Richard and Gunnar a Grammy nomination for best vocal arrangement. They didn't win, that went to The Pointer Sisters, but for years and years later people would tell me how they had to pull over to the side of the road when that tune of ours came on the radio.
Now where was I? Oh Yeah,
We are now The Bobs, well not quite, I think at the time were going around being cute and calling ourselves the aural bobs. Janie knows Earl who is the owner of Earl's on Solano AVE. a little night club type place where we start to play. These are 3 hour gigs without instruments but good training ground. We are doing covers at this time, nothing original in the sets yet. "Baby Snakes and Lonesome Cowboy Burt by Zappa, tunes by the Animals. This is also where the name comes from. One night, I guess they didn't have all the letters for the marque but they listed us as The Bobs dropping the aural part. We liked it and never looked back.
Let's add another voice. That was the next faze of The Bobs. Now Gunnar could sing hi in falsetto and so could I so it was decided that we would look for a female voice but a low alto type. Again free ad in local paper but this time, having a little bit of a local rep, we got about 7 people who called to audition. Janie Scott joined the group with what was almost a tenor voice, very cool and smokey and we become the form that we will maintain for the next 33 years. Three men and one woman, The Bobs
Now where was I,
Oh Yeah. Birthdays, weddings ,receptions, other free gigs and a couple of opening act spots were what came next. We were all working other gigs so it didn't matter, all just for fun!
We hadn't really decided on the name at this point. The Oral Bobs and almost Sansa-Band. You have to be old enough to get that joke. One wedding reception was the exception! The couple had hired 2 musical acts. The Bobs and The Cheap Suit Serenaders with R Crumb and R Armstrong. Wow what a double bill. Two very quirky groups made for each other. The picture is our first promotional shot. You can't really see but we are all wearing blue trench coats I got at the Army/Navy store with BOB embroidered on the front, very classy!
Now where was I, Oh Yeah!
The three of us begin putting together material. My contribution to this is suggesting songs and artists. Merle Travis was on my radar at the time so he is one of my suggestions. Remember I'm an actor not a musician right now, so I am looking for quirky, funny, Firesign Theater stuff. "That Fat Gal of Mine" is the name of a tune I throw out. So I think you can start to see how The Bobs are going to roll. We're doing "Baby Snakes" and Lonesome Cowboy Burt" by Zappa all the way to "I've been Lonely too Long" by The Animals and don't forget "That Fat Gal of Mine". Our first semi-official performance is at an open mic at a Cuban restaurant in Berkeley, Ca.
12 flamenco guitarists and The Bobs, we were a great success, by default.
Collaboration makes Art!
One of my favorite memories of the early Bobs was getting Richard into the group. Gunnar and I knew that having a real bass in the group would be the best . So we placed an ad in the local free paper, "Bass singer wanted for New Wave Acapella group" Richard was the only person ever to call. We actually had him come in and kind of "Audition". I had auditioned a lot as an actor and a few times as a director but never for a music group. We just sang some songs together. Doo Wop version of Proud Mary and others. Then he left. Gunnar and I are like well he's good and knows all about recording, but lets wait to see some more bass singers before we decide. A week passes, No more bass singers have called. I am the one who calls Richard back,by the way he sounds like God on the phone, and tell him he has been chosen, Ha!
About a year or so later I was telling this story on a radio station appearance somewhere on the East coast and I will always remember the look on Richards normally hard to read face.