Bob is a Nashville session musician who has played drums on award winning recordings with Nashville country and bluegrass legends for many years, and is a first call drummer for local groups, mainly jazz and large ensembles. In addition he is a well respected arranger currently producing tracks for a new label in Nashville, Grand Vista, and is the staff drummer on Crook and Chase, a new cable variety show .
Drums however were not his first instrument.
"I started out playing piano."
Bob learned to read music and English at about the same time. He began piano lessons at age 4, got his first drum kit at 13, and played his first union club date at 14. "My dad picked me up from Boy Scout Camp to take me to a local country club. The piano player was a junkie, and apparently didn't notice that I was a kid. I kept the gig."
He continued taking piano lessons through high school, and in fact had his own jazz quartet playing piano, but was getting calls to be a drummer. "At 17 I was in an eight-piece horn band playing the rock clubs on the strip near UT. My influences and interests were all over the place. I grew up listening to R & B on AM, early album rock on FM, and listening to my parents' Gershwin and jazz standards records at home. My band mates and I listened to Buddy Rich and Hendrix, Zeppelin and Brubeck, Motown and Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Then I'd go to school and study Hindemith and Webern and Debussy."
Majoring in Theory and Composition at UT Knoxville, Bob was considering a career as an arranger, but the calls to play just kept coming. "I was putting myself through college playing drums from 9: to 2:, six nights a week in a local club. There was work and school, that was about it."
He hit the road with a show band at age 21, and ending up moving to Nashville at 23. "I met Denis Solee pretty early on, and he recommended me for the drum chair in a rehearsal band that was just starting up called the Nashville Jazz Machine. From that connection I scored Brenda Lee's road gig for a couple of years, which was fun and helped me get my feet on the ground."
Bob quickly became established as an reading drummer with a feel for multiple styles that led ultimately to recordings with Chet Atkins (Sails), Alabama (The Touch),Dolly Parton (Those Were the Days), Ray Price, New Grass Revival (Hold to a Dream), Sandi Patti, Michael Martin Murphy, Boots Randolph/Richie Cole, Maura O'Connell (Helpless Heart), Mark O'Connor (the Grammy winning New Nashville Cats), alt rocker Pat McLaughlin (Allright-OK, Party at Pat's), blues great Tracy Nelson (Move On).
Recent projects include two Grammy award winning albums for The Riders in the Sky in 2000 and 2002, and the Grammy nominated Lynn Anderson "Bluegrass Sessions" in 2004, and in 2005 Dolly Parton's critically acclaimed "Those Were the Days".
The Grascals self-titled first album was nominated for a Grammy in 2005, and Bob played played drums on the Grammy-nominated Traditional Folk album "Cajun Mardi Gras!" by Louisiana icon Jo-EL Sonnier.
"Songs From the Neighborhood" won best Children’s Album in 2005, and The Grascals 2nd CD "Long List of Heartaches" was a 2006 Grammy nominee for best Bluegrass Album.
Away from the studio ...
Over the years, local one-off club gigs include performances with touring jazzers Eddie Harris, Herb Ellis, Mose Allison, Dave Pietro, Jimmy Rainey, Gene Bertincini, Bill Watrous, Dee Barton, Conte Candoli, Cal Collins, Ernie Watts, and Earl Klugh.
"When I moved to Nashville, Kenny Malone my guy. He was doing major label records by day, and playing in the clubs at night. That's what I wanted to do, and largely have."
Bob also backed up local rock and blues legends like, Tracy Nelson, Pat McLaughlin, Vickie Carrico, and Pebble Daniels.
He is highly regarded for his work with large ensembles, which includes recordings with the Chris McDonald Big Band, the Barry Green Big Band, the Nashville Jazz Machine, the Modern Jazz Tuba Project, the Jim Hoke Nonet, and concerts with the Nashville Pops (Jeff Steinberg's Jazz at the Symphony series) and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra.
As a current member of Jim Williamson’s Nashville Jazz Orchestra, Bob has backed up Randy Brecker, Kirk Whalum, Wycliffe Gordon, and Donald Brown, and performed along with Horatio Hernandez, Richie Flores, and Jesus Diaz on the recent "Cuban Fire Concert" at Blair. A recording of the NJO’s "Live at BB King’s" is available at their website.
Bob was a featured clinician at the 1989 Percussion Arts Society International Convention in Nashville sponsored by Vic Firth, and has been published by Modern Drummer.
From 1991 - 1993 Bob toured with the Everly Brothers, which included the 10th anniversary concert of their historic reunion at the Royal Albert Hall.
He was the staff drummer on TNN's Music City Tonight with Crook and Chase from 1993 - 1995.
Staying close to home for sessions, yet not wanting to retire his R & R shoes, Bob skated out of town a few times a year in the late 90s and early 00s to play gigs in the US, Europe, and Japan with Paul Reed Smith and his band - the Dragons. They recorded an album of original songs - "Jenna’s Eyes" - in Mamaroneck NY, which is available at the PRS website.
Bob also has a history in roots and bluegrass going back to the 80s with New Grass Revival. He recorded in the 90s with The New Tradition, and his ongoing association with supergroup The Grascals, and legendary Engineer/Producer Bil Vorndick has led to numerous projects.
Bob is currently producing projects for Grand Vista Records, and has in the last few years produced 3 albums for his lovely, talented, award-winning, alt-folk artist, singer-songwriter wife, Kathy Hussey.