Bob Cole started playing music when he was 15 and landed his first professional gig at the Biliken Bar in Douglas at 16. That was 30 years ago.
Next month, he's hitting the road on a U.S. tour to promote his new album and fulfill a lifelong dream.
"Bob's been working at this a long time," said Tag Eckles, a fellow band member and co-producer of Cole's recently released CD, "Moses Kane DLDS" (an acronym for "day late, dollar short).
"I'm not so sure he was ever appreciated here as he will be in the birthplace of southern rock. He's a great player, and he writes great songs. And I think there's a place for him," Eckles said.
Moses Kane, the band, has been around for about seven years. It features Cole on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Dave Downey on lead guitar, Brad Imboden on bass and Todd C. Vierra on drums. The group has played every major club in Juneau, plus many more throughout southeast Alaska.
"What's going on now is, the rest of my band can't go on tour, so what I've done is put a road band together," Cole said. "We're getting ready to go on the road, and I'm leaving April 1."
The band will stay a month in Idaho before heading east, where the band plans to perform in clubs and at music festivals there.
Cole's road band includes Cole, Jeff Campbell on lead guitar, Luke Nuxoll on rhythm/lead guitar, Randy Helms on bass, Chris Mcquaid on drums and Sean Tracey on harmonica. Eckles will join the band in September.
After Cole's first gig with Rockin' Horse in the late 1970s, he later formed the Cole-Younger Band, playing mostly southern-rock songs.
Cole-Younger headlined in Juneau for several years, but when the lead guitar player, and Cole's best friend, died, the band effectively disbanded and Cole stopped playing music. He then turned his attention to doing lights and sound for rock bands across the United States. He stayed away for about 10 years.
"I bounced back and forth to different bands. I was just kind of a nomad," Cole said.
It was the urging of a friend back in Juneau that got Cole to pick up a guitar again. Eventually, he met up with other Juneau musicians and formed the band, Brotherhood Bridge.
"That was a pretty successful band for a little while," he said.
In another twist of fate, Cole learned he had two siblings he never knew about, one of whom was a rock 'n' roll drummer. The long story short is Cole's "new" brother moved to Juneau and the two formed Moses Kane.
Cole describes the music of Moses Kane as "southern blues, with a country-rock flare."
His favorite song is, "West Virginia Blues," which he wrote about his father's life. He wrote "Margo's Song" for his wife when he didn't have enough money to buy her a gift.
"I gave it to her for a Christmas present, and she loves it," he said.
Besides belonging to the music culture of Juneau, Cole is a motorcycle rider and belongs to the Southeast Alaska Panhandlers Motorcycle Club where he hangs out, rides and performs for many of its events.
"They're a big inspiration in my life towards my music," Cole said. "They've always been behind me 100 percent, as a family and as brothers," he said.
When Cole leaves on his tour next month, he'll be taking 30 years of performing experience with him. He may be leaving Juneau behind temporarily, but he'll be on the road knowing that he has the support of his friends and his music.
"I live both lifestyles to their fullest," he said. "I put them together, and it works out great."
Teri Tibbett is a writer and musician living in Juneau. She can be reached at www.tibbett.com.
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