Ain't We Got Fun!
The nicest thing about the music business today is that it doesn't matter how you started out. It's where you're coming from right now. Bob started out as a kid. Like most of us do. Liking music so much that he forgot to listen when knowledgeable people started telling him what kind to like. Giving that sort of person a guitar screws up the rules we all live by in the music business, we who love to identify a sound, classify it real quick like some birdwatcher making a life-list, and cram it into to the proper file drawer. Bluegrass. Blues. Funk. Shape note.
If Bob Runyon had a file drawer, he'd keep files in it (the kind you saw through bars with.) He doesn't even keep files of the songs he has written. Which would make a considerable pile. This guy is so weird he thinks a musician has to create all the time and can never get comfortable with just laying back and doing the stuff other people chiseled out.
There is a small, but select group of people in the entertainment business who insist on having fun at what they do. Of these, John Hartford, The Dillards, Bryan Bowers, Taj Mahal, The Dry Branch Fire Squad, and Jim Stafford, pop to mind, and there are countless others, who, if music wasn't fun, would cheerfully do something else instead. I don't know if Bob learned his particular view from these people or whether it never occurred to him to get grimly determined about his talent. But they were there for the observing anyway. And Bob doesn't miss much.
One of the things that makes Bob such a good solo performer is that he has opened for more people than the bathroom door at the bus station. And an opening act learns and develops fast the talents of entertaining people who didn't pay specifically to see them.
All those nights of opening for such people as McEuen and Vassar Clements, the Newgrass Revival, and "Gatemouth" Brown, taught Bob the responsibility of being the first person an audience sees. He has never forgotten those days and carries a sense of fun-about-to-happen up there with him on stage along with his instrument and projects it like a dynamo.
The key word to remember here is fun. Bob understands, like most humorous people, the difference between fun and funny. From the moment he comes on stage eyes blazing with enthusiasm, he reminds you of the way Gallagher operates with an audience- you are liable to get a little watermelon juice on your girlfriend, but boy, are you going to have fun! And of course since Bob doesn't know any music limits exist, you are going to have all kinds of stuff flung at you. So see what pleases you and turns your crank.
And that's the other thing about an evening with Bob Runyon. Not only do you get to watch a man who looks like a genial, slightly deranged, Rasputin hypnotize you. But you are also liable to hear country songs, pop stuff, R&B, folk music, rock and roll, blues, and a mind-boggling variety of hot-off-the-press things invented for the occasion. You may wonder where this guy is coming from but you'll never doubt he's going somewhere he likes, and taking you for the moment, with him. And you're sure not going to get bored.
It won't surprise you to find out that this time traveler is an art school graduate and loves to involve himself in that old goody, radio. He paints and writes funny stuff. For six years he sat in with his friends on the weekly radio show he hosted. He still fills in occasionally on KOPN with his Front Porch Show. Such is his love for what he does, that he has even had gigs playing for dinner crowds, bar people, house concerts, even weddings: Wherever it's fun and people are there to be charmed.
All of us Runyon fans have one thing in common: We wait to see what sort of inventions of sound and vocal gymnastics and word games and imagery and fun we're in for the next time we go to hear him.
You could do a whole lot worse than to be in the next seat over, and, as with Gallagher, maybe get a little on you, to remember him by.
There you have it friends, Bob Runyon in a nutshell. Which is (those of us who are fond of him would say) pretty much where he belongs.
1700 Cedar Tree Lane
Hartsburg, MO 65039