Bob, I thank you for taking the time for this interview today. I greatly appreciate it. I’m going to start off by giving people a little background. You and I go way back. I honestly do not remember a time when I did not know you. For the record, as a teenager, Bob worked for Russell Canoe Livery during the summer. While I spent my childhood summers swimming in the Rifle River near the Russell Canoe Livery dock, Bob spent his time hauling canoes. Due to a bit of nostalgia on my part, and mutual Facebook friends, Bob and I reconnected via Facebook. It’s been a fun trip down memory lane. The canoe livery was a huge part of my childhood.
While I knew Bob worked as a local musician, I really didn’t know any of the particulars until we became Facebook friends. The more I learned about his career, as a musician and otherwise, the more I wanted to know. He appears to be one busy man!
Thank you, for taking the time to put this together. I definitely go back, and like you say, can’t remember a time when I didn’t come around at least once in a while to say “Hi” to everyone and make sure you and your family were all doing well. It was always a good feeling, that’s for sure, to see you guys.
Bob, I want to start at the beginning. When and how did your passion for music and radio begin? When did you first begin performing?
Honestly, for as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed music and been fascinated by radio as a medium. I can remember my brother and I lip syncing and playing air guitar as little kids. I did the high school band thing and played drums, tuba, trumpet, baritone and bass guitar, probably due to an A.D.D. thing, but it was a solid footing for learning the basic workings of music. From that, I played with a couple of garage bands in high school and had fun doing it. We played some small shows, so I guess that when I really began performing in front of people. I also started working with some friends developing basic DJ skills and knowledge. However, I didn’t realize at the time that I was missing some key components of a musical education which led to a period of 15 years of really doing nothing with music or in radio as I made my way through corporate America. It wasn’t until after I became disenchanted with a career outside of music that I realized how much I actually missed the world of music.
How did you land your first gig? Would you mind telling us a little about it?
Yeah, that’s kind of a funny little story that involves a little background info. Around 2000 – 2001, I saw a guy playing guitar and singing at a party and I thought to myself, “Gosh, he’s not very good. I could be that bad and have fun doing that.”, and I also saw a dude from Northern Michigan, Pete Kehoe, who was playing at Bay Harbor. Pete was, and still is, AWESOME. And, my goal changed…I told myself, I wanna do what that guy does. So, I got a hold of Pete and asked him what gear he had and I went out and bought as much of the same stuff as I could find. I then started practicing in the basement and, after I lost my job in 2003, my living room. Very popular with the wife! When we moved back to Michigan in 2004, I was continuing to practice and got a chance to play at a “Relay for Life” event in Tawas or Oscoda, I can’t remember. From there, I literally started playing at a restaurant/bar about a mile from my house for dinner, and things got better from there. Pretty soon, I was playing anywhere from 3 to 5 nights per week.
Speaking of your musical career, I noticed on your website that you state a second solo album is in the works. Is that still the case? What led to your first album?
Time is the biggest thief and he’s got a great disguise. I do have a second album in the works. It’s difficult to work on, due to the time I spend in the studio on everyone else’s PAYING work. It’s coming along, though…just at a slower pace than I’d ever like. I have 6 songs in preproduction stage. I’m mostly trying to figure out how produced I’d like it to sound, or how much instrumentation I’d like to put on the tracks. I want to do as much as I can on this by myself. I think my first album…I like that we say “album”, we’re old….was a necessity for my head, just to see if I could do it. I had some great help from fellow songwriters, musicians and an incredible producer in Allen Bondar, from Dharma Records in Grayling. He offered me the opportunity to work with him and I jumped at it.
Bob, you currently play with a reunited THE POOL BOYS. I was wondering if you could tell us a little history of the band, past and present.
Well, The Pool Boys are kind of one of those love-hate bands. I love what we do, but I hate what it does to me! We have WAY too much fun and it’s a lot of strain on my body and voice. Anyway, Sal Agnello, a talented musician from Tawas was playing with an outfit and had caught my acoustic act. Him and I sat down and started fiddling around with some acoustic stuff. He then suggested that we try some “sequenced” tracks, which are pre-produced tracks that lack vocals and, in our case, guitars. So, basically, we’re playing along with a computer directed keyboard producing all of the drums, horns, pianos, bass, etc., whatever we wanted. The practice has been around since the mid to late 80’s, but a lot of musicians kind of shy away from it. However, it’s really cool, because the songs you can play are only limited by your imagination and ability.
So, right out of the gate we got the house gig at the old Holiday Inn in East Tawas, and had that for a couple of years. Then, did the casino circuit for a bit and due to my throat problems and extra children, we had to take a hiatus for a bit… which was good, because Sal really perfected the sequencing of the tracks. Last year, we started talking about the market for sequencing and we picked up a drummer, which really adds to the sound, and viola….The Pool Boys are back running around, again. We’re focusing more on resorts, casinos, private parties and festivals, for purely selfish reasons!
As a musician, what are your favorite bands and artists? Which is your favorite genre?
Oh, man…mostly people I don’t play! Um, Led Zeppelin’s always been huge for me, the Doors, Pearl Jam, Bob Seger, almost anything from the 80’s, because it was when music was fun. But, from a creation stand point, I look to The Thorns or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The great harmonizers! As far as my favorite genre, folk based rock.
Let’s switch gears for a second. I know that you also host a local radio morning show called “The Drive By” on Mix 92.1 | Caro, MI. What led to your radio/announcing career? I also read that you announce for the local minor league baseball team, The Great Lakes Loons. How did that come about? As both an avid fan of radio and baseball, I find it all fascinating.
Going back to always being interested in radio and music, I worked as a mobile DJ from the time I was 14 until the time I was 23, which kept my interest and built some skills. Also, I got an opportunity to work in radio right out of high school, when I was way too young to handle it and realized there was NO money in it, and I was fine with that, back then. So, I went on my merry way. Fast forward to 2010, when my wife and I bought a house in the Caro area, I saw a radio station on the way home from the closing and stopped to see if they needed someone, well TA-DA, I had a job in radio. Some personnel changes were made to move me into a morning show co-hosting slot and that’s where I find myself today. With the Great Lakes Loons, I responded to an open tryout and got the job as their on-field host. I’m really pretty fortunate, I have very fun jobs and both Mix 92.1 and the Loons are great organizations with great people.
Ok. It is time to discuss the inevitable. There is a local well-known radio personality on WHNN-FM that happens to share your name. What confusion has that created over the years? I know you had fun with the situation when you were younger.
Really? No kidding? I hadn’t heard of this fellow….Yeah, Bob is a great guy and we have a lot of fun together, especially with the name thing. We only live like 7 miles apart, which again is interesting. It’s a two way street for the confusion, though. He gets questions about his name being on a marquee for a performance and I get people trying to tell me they’ve listening to me for years. I’m not sure if there is any other radio market in America that has this problem. I know when I first worked in radio in the area, the station had me use a different name. This time around, I was like, who cares.
And, yes, there were times in the past when Bob’s name was thrown around a bit liberally for shameless acts that shalln’t be mentioned! Good times.
In addition to performing on-air and off, you also own Bob Hughes Studios. How did you first become involved in voice-over work? What made you decide you to go into business for yourself on the production side of things? What projects do you have coming up?
Once again, back to my disenchantment with corporate life, I had an opportunity to get back into media productions in 2004. I started working with some outdoor television producers, including Mike Avery, which led to videography, video editing, commercial production and lending my voice to show intros and spots. So, I found myself buying a bunch of gear and figured I better make some money to support the purchases and Bob Hughes Studios was born. I work mostly online with a couple of ad houses and contract sites, and it keeps me pretty busy. One thing I have found is that with my name on the door, I definitely care more about what leaves the editing bay. I take great pride in having won industry awards for quality and creation, having my voice on 6 of 7 continents, as well as watching my business grow over the past 8 years.
Developing projects are kind of hard to nail down. Currently in the hopper are a couple of product videos for the web, a steady stream of eBooks and other voice over projects. I don’t like getting too far out in the calendar, though because it slows down turnaround time for customers and I like getting them their products as quickly as possible.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a creative career and go into business for his or her self?
Find your passion and do it early in life! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and take the chance while you have nothing to lose. Get the education for the creative career you are interested in and be aggressive in your pursuit!
The one regret I have is not pursuing music creation more aggressively when I was 20 or 21. I didn’t know I had a gift and I never took the time to really look into myself and find out what was in there. But, had I just listened to my heart and looked to others to help me find this out, who knows what could have happened, good or bad.
Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions! It was fun catching up. I know you are a vet of Operation Desert Storm. I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for your service to our country.
Well, thank you for thanking me. I’m glad I was able to serve, because so many are not able. It’s always great chatting with you, that’s for sure. Thank you for considering me an interesting topic! I hope your readers find something interesting, as well!
You can find more information on Bob Hughes and all his endeavors as the links below.
- Mid-Michigan’s Own | Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde
- On The Air | Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde
- Bob Seger (russelllindsey.wordpress.com)