The guitar is certainly the instrument of our generation, having
dominated popular music for nearly half a century. With millions
of people playing the guitar and thousands performing and recording,
how does one distinguish one's self as a guitarist these days?
Bob Wilson has accomplished this through dedication to music
and the guitar, and by drawing on such a wide range of influences
that his playing style is his own. We never listen "through" his
playing to its sources, because the source is right here. He's
one of a kind, and has never relented in maintaining and continuing
to develop his phenomenal technique. He practices every day. Did
you hear that, kids?
Bob is equally at home on electric or acoustic guitar; an accomplishment
in itself. The acoustic which he uses when playing with Rick Shubb
is a Selmer Maccaferri. The use of this guitar is itself a creative
choice, since this style of guitar is seldom if ever combined
with a five string banjo. The Maccaferri is usually identified
with Django Reinhardt and Gypsy jazz. While Django is certainly
one of Bob's favorite musicians, Bob is not particularly a Django-style
player, and instead of the softer strings traditionally favored
by the gyspy players, Bob strings his Maccaferri with light gauge
steel strings. His playing in this context is a blend of harmonically
rich chord solos, dynamic single-note runs and solos, Travis-like
finger picking (for which he uses a flatpick and his fingers),
and always tasteful comping and rhythm. He's likely to draw on
any of a number of sources for inspiration, among whom he cites
Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, George Van Eps, Tal Farlow,
Johnny Smith, Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, Merle Travis, Hank
Snow, and others. And those are just the guitar players. Jazz,
county, folk, rock, ...you name it.
In addition to his passion for music, Bob Wilson loves movies.
He's a walking encyclopedia of films from the '30s and '40s, and
never tires of searching for more films from that era to discover.
His expertise in this area is remarkable when you consider that
he has been totally blind all his life; a fact that one tends
to forget at times because he just doesn't seem handicapped. It's
truly amazing to watch a movie with him as he identifies bit players
by a line or two of dialogue.
Not since his early twenties has Bob Wilson pursued a full-time
career in music. Instead he has supported his wife and two sons
as a full-time school teacher, maintaining a part-time music career
playing casuals on weekends. But this is a part-time career which
he has always taken very seriously, and he takes a back seat to
no one when it comes to dedication, technique, creativity and
just plain musical talent,