Fiddle/Violin, Mandolin, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Howdy folks in Internet land! This here's Bob Yocum, and this is my story.
Chapter 1 - The Awakening
I can still remember the first time that my dad let me hold his fiddle. I was seven years old, and until that moment had been admonished to not touch it. As he lifted it from it's old coffin case, and placed it in my trembling hands, he now admonished me "just don't drop it". I can't recall the first time that I'd heard him play, but by this age I already had burned into my memory his entire repertoire of tunes. There was Soldier's Joy - Ragtime Annie - Dance With The Dolly - Lay That Pistol Down - The Chicken Reel and a few others that I don't know the names of.
There is something magical and mysterious about an old fiddle. Hold one and you'll feel it right away. Notice it's shape, the symmetry of it's construction, it's delicate feel in your hands. Only a beautiful woman can come close to the perfection of it's form. My dad showed me how to hold it. He showed me how to tighten the bow, and how to "rosin it up". He told me not to touch the hairs of the bow, or the oil from my fingers would keep the rosin from sticking. They say that the fiddle is the Devil's instrument. "As I pulled the bow across the strings, and it made that evil hiss", I knew where that saying came from! As Dad left the room I thought he had heard enough. But he was back in a heartbeat with another case in hand. Little did he or I know, that as he was handing it to me, he was handing me his legacy, and in a sense my future.
Chapter 2 - The Formative Years
I was born on Friday the Thirteenth of July (Devil's hand?) on the south side of Painesville. Our humble home in Mentor on the Lake was well appointed with fine linoleum, Venetian blinds, a davenport, and six sugar fed kids. Finding a quiet place to practice required inventiveness. I discovered the fine acoustical properties of the bathroom. The words "go outside and play" would send me into a daylong adventure of swimming, fishing at the Mentor Marsh or playing in the woods. My only rules were to "be home by dark" and "don't poke anyone's eyes out with that stick".
Chapter 3 - Movin' On Up
I had mixed emotions about moving to the big city. After all there is no surf in Painesville, and I had a powerful crush on a girl in my class at Shore Junior High. Although I couldn't imagine life without her, a bedroom of my own, and a bevy of beauties at my new school eased my anxiety. I joined the school band first playing clarinet then the more manly, and cooler trumpet.
Chapter 4 - Meet The Beatles
There is no way to overstate the influence of the Beatles. Not since Hiroshima has a more powerful force been unleashed on the world. Everything changed! I had to have a guitar. I had to grow my hair. And I had to play! I managed to save $50 from my paper route, and Dad drove me to Cleveland. I found my dream in a pawn shop on Euclid Avenue. I was now the very proud owner of a Kent guitar, an amp with a five inch speaker, and enough power to drive adults mad!
To be continued...
Bob Yocum's bio...