Perfect pitch was the verdict of the combination hearing and vocal test administered September 1964 by the Arch Diocese of Chicago at St. Alphonsus grade school in Lemont, Illinois. Musical training was not available to the unworthy at my six-room elementary school and Sister Nobilia was certain I was up to something. To the choir loft for high mass (the one that took two hours) I did go. Next was band. This was particularly sweet because we had to walk to public school (down the trail) during school hours. Poor rural kids had to take the bus back to the sticks at 3:30. It was mayhem sanctioned by the nuns twice a week. I quickly worked my way from first to third coronet and performed in two concerts before our first guitar arrived. Channel 11 featured Laura Weber, a kind of beatnik lay teacher type, offering the first three chords for free. The economy of this child broadening opportunity for the cost of two songbooks and a 15 dollar guitar drew my mother like a moth to light. Soon my sister and I were wowing the old folks with renditions of “Little Boxes” and “There’s a Hole in the Bucket Dear Liza.”
Time marched on and young DaveBob learned his fourth and fifth chord with the help of mentor Tim Gonda. With guitar by my side and many beers inside, I plied my musical wares on the streets of Carbondale and somehow managed to leave college with a degree and a portfolio of ribald originals that Denis hates to this day.
A handful of attempts to transform my fledgling talents into a real band evolved from the acoustiholic sounds of “Bogus Studios” and “Uncle Clem” to solo stints in taverns in my dad’s native southern Illinois. Meanwhile, best friend Denis Kramer was undergoing the transition from working drummer to unemployed lead guitar player. The lure of trying to follow his backwards upside down chords and his inability to criticize my playing for the same reason lead to the infancy of “Bob and Bob.” A free duo performance at a school for handicapped children arranged by a friend proved the concept. Quickly joined by Den’s brother MickBob, who can be best described as an organized tornado touchdown on a drum kit, and then later by bass master EdBob Kocjan, it was time to play. For the next eight years the sound of balls crashing into pins was accompanied by thrashing classic rock, TV theme songs and original tunes in every bowling alley with a bar in the tri county area.
A ten-year hiatus from performing with occasional reunion gigs followed. In 1999 I teamed up with members of the great “Wrong Bongos” band lead by good friend and drummer turned guitarist, Larry Anderson. This combo was known as “Pork” (the other white band). For a little over a year I struggled to keep up with these hardcore rockers ten years my junior. It was simply a fun band.
With great anxiety I sacrificed gigging for a rotating shift airline job. “Pork” was history. Five years and three job changes later DenBob and I could not stay away from the limelight. Like Jagger and Richards (but without that level of skill) we reformed acoustically as “The AcoustiBobs.” Numerous duo performances once again reminded us that playing without drums and bass simply sucks. Enter DenBob’s former bandmate PeteBob Pollack and Paul Chamberlin and we were once again full of sound. Nearly everyone said we were full of it.
In recent years we suffered the loss of our beloved friend and brother Mick Bob and one of the most talented individuals I have ever known, former band mate Larry Anderson. We liquidated The Bobs in favor of “The Limitations.” Named for one of MickBob’s first bands, the group featured an oldies revival featuring Larry’s former “Baked Potato” bandmates, Tommy and Sonny Boy Teare. A lot of fun gigs including Crossroad Days, river parties, and Jimmy Buffet concert tailgate parties were enjoyed by the band. Jobs and other life sustaining necessities soon sent the members in other directions and “The Limitations” were no more. But old friends and old bands never really die. They just take time off to get older and maybe wiser. Some things about playing in a band never change (including the pay). It’s like Forrest said… “Life is like a box of…well…a Box of Bobs.”