Bob Bunce's casual singing style belies the electricity coursing through the man and his music. Whether it's the country blues, bossa nova, rock, or reggae, the bearded Bunce bounces boldly nonchalant and super-cool. His latest CD, "Rural Delivery," is a fine collection of tunes full of wry humor and classic old-time boogie.
And he's a peaceable man. The afore-mentioned electricity was borne of conscientious objection and principle.
"I became an electrician for the deferment," Bunce says. "So I wouldn't get drafted. It was just going to be for a little while until the war was over. Then the wife and kids came along and it became my career."
A snowboarding accident in Massachusetts brought the curtain down on his electrician career in 1995. You wouldn't know it to look at him, but Bunce, now 65 years old, was a professional-grade snowboard cross competitor. Guitar had previously taken a back burner.
"I had been recording and playing all along," he says. "I'd always played guitar, however it wasn't my focus. But I threw myself into it more after the accident and when the kids left the nest."
No snowboard, no rug rats, no more playing with volts and kilowatts; it was clearly time to start a band.
"The first band I formed was with my son playing bass and Herb Heinz on guitar," Bunce says. "It was called Beyond Riddum. We played out for about two years. When that folded I started a home studio — four track cassette, before CDs were invented. I didn't play out much because most of what I was writing were studio creations. So the goal on my last two releases was to be more able to support them live."
"It's tough," he adds. "I'd love to have a regular band. But the guys who play with me already have gigs."
He combed the scene for studio cats as well as hired guns for live performances. The problem he encountered was all the good ones were already committed to other bands, and if they weren't, you've had to wonder why. It's like the hot girl sitting alone at the bar without a date; what's wrong with her?
Bunce called upon seasoned players from around the region to make up the studio band and production team that delivered "Rural Delivery." Like bassist, producer, and engineer Gary Holt, whose Holt Studios in Mt. Morris rendered this gem.
"I've known Gary for 30 years," Bunce says. "There's some mojo going on in that studio."
Bunce says he's chompin' at the bit to go back in the studio, even though the paint on "Rural Delivery" is barely dry.
"I already have 12 more songs written," he says, adding that he longs to play out more. "But I do love the recording process."
That's understandable, because of Bunce's easy going interaction with the musicians at hand in the band; he doesn't tell them what to play.
"I talk more about feel," he says. "And just give them an idea loosely what I'm after."
And he's lyrically conscious — somewhat of a contrarian wordsmith who sings about things like women dancing on tables, or the joys of living off the grid in Groveland where he uses solar power, heats with wood, and raises chickens. Bunce sheds positive light on a world he doesn't necessarily embrace entirely.
"But I'd rather talk about positive things," he says. That's not to say I ignore the world's situation. Life exists in many places in the music world and I want to take in all that I can. That's the joy of it."