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Instead of pretending like I have a posse of highly paid people behind this website, I'm just going to be straight up and deliver the goods in first person.
I began a lifetime of creating music at age 5 on the piano, leading me to compete in several Kiwanis competitions with minimal success. I picked up the guitar at age 12, and there began my quest to become a professional musician. I officially retired at age 19 and picked up my first guitar teaching job.
After several years of teaching at music studios and playing guitar in various theatre productions (learning the book of Evita in three days was a definite highlight), I landed the role as one of the two guitarists in the We Will Rock You musical in Toronto after auditioning for Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor. The show entertained nearly a million people over its 2-year run, and was the winner of the Dora Award for best Toronto musical of 2007.
"I'm hugely humbled and grateful for all the wonderful work you put into our show. Thanks and continued thanks, Bob, for giving it your excellence."
-- Sir Dr. Brian May
Around this time the We Will Rock You band and I performed with May and Taylor on an episode of Canadian Idol, and we played on a version of Auld Lang Syne used for the 2008 New Year's celebration at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, both of which were broadcast on TV to a national audience.
In June 2009, I proudly dressed up as the North By Northeast (NXNE) mascot 'Sketchy' to officially launch the festivities, playing a government-certified guitar like no other bunny can.
Classic Albums Live welcomed me into the company in 2011, a diverse pool of musicians dedicated to faithfully recreating some of the best music ever written, note for note, in theatres all around North America. My first show was Led Zeppelin IV, which required me to learn to play the mandolin as well as doubling on guitar and keyboards. I've done a few tours with them (including a date at the prestigious Massey Hall in Toronto), with the most recent one being for Rush's 2112 album in 2017.
I donned the We Will Rock You flag once again in 2013-14 with a touring version of the show that stretched all across the US, making stops in Canada and Mexico as well. Nearly 300 shows were performed in 29 cities over 11 months. Duties included doing TV and radio promo spots in select cities. For the first time in my life good hair days had to become the norm, not the exception.
I also perform as a solo artist on acoustic guitar, playing anything from Indian classical music to flamenco to Bach to complete classic rock albums. My one man show is a fun evening of great music and (often silly and embarrassing) storytelling, and a multimedia experience often with cameo appearances from fellow artists past and present. And now that I have an album out, there is plenty of original material in my show. I also perform entire evenings of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Yes, and Pink Floyd.
For half of 2015 I worked on a cruise ship with Royal Caribbean where I performed solo shows nearly every day and honed my craft (including public speaking skills, something which more people are apparently afraid of than death). I usually only worked evenings, so most of my days were spent frolicking around European port cities. A few shorter contracts in other locations have since followed.
In 2022 I scored an opening slot for Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel). I'm fairly certain I'm one of very few people who can truthfully say they encored with a Frank Zappa song that was met with a standing ovation.
I often play the role of Pro Tools engineer at recording sessions, but other times I'll happily offer my services on guitar. I've recorded with artists like Michael Kulas (formerly of the platinum-selling UK band "James") and Fabletongue, whose tracks are currently in the capable hands of Grammy-winning producer David Bottrill (King Crimson, Tool, Dream Theater, Muse, Silverchair). My guitaring has also been heard in ad jingles, in films like In Saturn's Rings (which has been screened as far away as Prague) and the award-winning Touch, and the soundtrack of the off-Broadway musical Peace, Love and Cupcakes.
My debut solo album, called Changing Of The Guard, was released in 2017. It comprises of 12 tracks (both instrumental and vocal), with influences spanning from baroque to 1960s British folk. It is available on iTunes / Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, and Pandora. You can also purchase a CD or LP directly from me.
As part of a trio called Euphonic, along with cellist Geoff Ball and percussionist Vince Waters, I create music with these fine gentlemen that almost defies categorization - a hybrid of various styles including latino, folk, ragtime, classical, and jazz. Movers and shakers of the music industry will perhaps be satisfied with this polystylistic cornucopia being categorized as "folk fusion." Our debut album (with compositions that go back to about 2004) was released in 2018, much to our collective delight and relief.
From 2012 to 2020 I was the Brian May in a Queen tribute called Simply Queen, with whom I traversed the theatres and festivals of North America. Gig highlights included performing on Kiss Kruise IX (on the same bill as The Darkness and Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses), a week-long residency at Busch Gardens in Tampa, and co-writing a song with AI for an NVIDIA corporate event. Reviews like this one sum up what the best nights felt like.
I also perform in a Genesis tribute called The Genesis Experience and a Paul McCartney tribute called Silly Love Songs, where the latter also sees me on keyboards, bass, and ukulele.
In recent years I became involved with Max Webster in various capacities. I first designed a website about the legendary Canadian band, which led to me being credited as "photo archivist" on their 2017 box set called The Party. Some would now classify me as a "music historian," a label that I happily embrace. I also performed Max Webster's classic song Let Go The Line at a gig in 2015 with their keyboardist Terry Watkinson. Their songs sometimes feature in my solo shows, leading to some pretty high praise:
"I saw a video of you playing Lily, and I loved it."
-- Paul Kersey (drummer, Max Webster)
My film debut came in 2021 as I was interviewed for a documentary directed by Tom Gordon about the history of Battle Scar by Max Webster and Rush. The following year it was nominated for best Nevada documentary at the 2022 Cordillera Film Festival.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic when I found myself doing a week of nightly streaming shows, Kim Mitchell graced us with his presence for an hour to request his own songs on my Max Webster night.
"Yeah !!! Nice playing man. I enjoyed your take on the songs."
-- Kim Mitchell
I have also designed a website about the concert history of Queen that has had nearly a million visits from fans all over the globe.
I have been credited in no less than a dozen other publications for anything from fact-checking to photo archivist. The most recent one is a book about the concert history of Rush. My own book on Max Webster called "High Class" is due for release in spring 2023, a coffee table book in collaboration with most of the band members.
In September 2022 I began hosting a weekly show on Montco Radio called "Bollocks with Bob," with the first season lasting twelve weeks. Each episode pledges to reexamine some corner of music history that has been misunderstood or misplaced in your collection. The show has been archived in perpetuity at bollockswithbob.com and on Google Podcasts. My episode on Roger Taylor's solo career got a mention on the official Queen website and Brian May's website and got 5000 spins in its first few days of being available, while my Max Webster episode garnered some warm feedback from a familiar face:
"Wonderful ! You did a masterful job. Really enjoyed it."
-- Dave Myles (bassist, Max Webster)
I also play lap steel guitar, the charango, and Irish bouzouki.
When I'm not on the road I teach a few students how to play various instruments, and when I am on the road I teach over Skype, Zoom, or whichever other video call service is in vogue.