I've been connected to music for a long time. My first time on stage was as a high school Senior on Long Island when I organized a benefit concert to raise funds for what was then the Tom Dooley Foundation. We collected a lot of toothbrushes.
When I graduated, I went to college at the University of Dayton and started playing on hillsides overlooking the parking lots and moved on to playing local coffee houses like the Down There and Alley Door. I discovered Pleasant Street and by my Sophomore year was running the place, booking acts and playing on stage and in the back room on a regular basis.
Serenading The Homecoming Queen With The Lansdowne Trio
Summers had me back in New York playing clubs on Long Island and in Manhattan. This was the late '60s and the Village featured all the great acts and I got to see and hear many of the folks that became influences and inspirations.
There was a time I was away from performing. I wrote for The Journal Herald back when Dayton, Ohio could support a morning and an evening paper. The JH was the good one. I spent three and a half years doing two columns a week plus an occasional special focused on live music. The Thursday column was usually a "what's happening" piece geared to the coming weekend and what could be seen and heard in and around the area. Mostly I covered Dayton and the surrounding communities but sometimes filed stories on Cincinnati and Columbus clubs.
Saturday's article was generally a review of an act that I'd seen earlier in the week and was probably going to be in town at least through the weekend of publication. The position was freelance, so I was not on staff at the paper but was referred to as the Entertainment Editor - a glorified fluff title. At that time (early ‘70s?) I made $30 a column ($15 for Thursday) and had what might have been a $30 budget to pay for the cover charges, meals and (sometimes) much needed drinks.
I have some favorite moments from that job including sitting at Sam's Bar and Grill on 5th the night Nanci Griffth blew through town with her band back before anyone knew who she was and talking with her late into the night. There was also the interview with Loretta Lynn – my first really big star - in her tour bus parked outside of Kings Island after her show. The absolute best was sitting in Gilly's after Mary Travers finished her solo show one night. She was out of cigarettes and she spent the better part of two hours bumming mine and talking about her career, PP&M and other stuff.
Other Random Bits of Memory from those days:
With My Partner In Music, Andy Logue, At Monk's Inn, University of Dayton
On Stage At the Legendary Barking Spider
I started hitting Cleveland landmarks like the Barking Spider and the Winchester and the exposure to the great musicians that play those clubs and the others around Cleveland really had me up my game. I was rewarded with a one hour featured set at the Barking Spider in early '09 and a few months later I was asked to open for the legendary Shawn Phillips at the Winchester. Since then I've played Wilbert's downtown, opened for former Cleveland Opera star Dan May and become a regular at open mics all over the area.
At the Prince Of Peace Open Mic - A Favorite
I started writing again and I'm having a great time doing what I've loved to do since I got my very first guitar from my uncle Frank back when I was still in grade school. I've been playing ever since so I can share music with people who enjoy it.
I hope you're one of them!
Keep on keepin' on,
Bob's influences are the usual suspects for a folk performer: Guthrie (both), Seeger, Dylan, Paxton, VanZandt. Lots of others, too. PP&M. The Kingston Trio. The Brothers Four. Lightfoot.
Then there are the not so usual suspects. Tom and Dick Smothers, Soupy Sales, Moe, Larry and Curly.
More contemporary inspiration comes from Stan Rogers and Dave Mallett along with newly discovered singer/songwriters including Greg Brown, Tom Kimmel, Jeff Black and Don Henry.
So pretty much anyone who can write a good song, tell a good story or provide a good laugh is likely to be included in Bob's playlist and set selection.