Everything you ever wanted to know about Bob …
Life Is Art
Beginning with piano at age eight, the guitar at ten, wishing to explore brass instruments, but settling for the clarinet at age twelve since metal mouth pieces and orthodontics did not mix. Once the braces came off I eagerly embraced the musical bass clef by learning tuba. I was quickly bitten by the “bass bug” which then found my focus shifting to the bass guitar. At age thirteen I was sitting comfortably in my high school band’s first chair tuba position and holding down the bottom end in my first … rock band.
Angel Painted Lady
Boasting two guitarists with one doubling on trombone, a trumpet player, a flutist, myself on bass, and a drummer who also doubled on vibraphone, Angel Painted Lady was a band which many dreamed to be a part of. Performing a mixture of rock, fusion, funk, and jazz, we played to packed rooms covering the music of David Bowie, Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper, The James Gang, Chicago Transit Authority, Maynard Ferguson, and Chase, while defining and playing our own original music. Playing tuba by day and bass guitar by night throughout high school I eventually found myself at my first “dream job” … working at a record store.
Working for Eucalyptus Records & Tapes was the funnest job that I have ever had while working for someone else. I was paid a good salary and eventually worked my way into the position of regional manager. From the age of seventeen to twenty-two I was selling music by day and performing music by night … I felt like I was sitting on the top of the world! In it’s heyday Eucalyptus boasted fifteen stores spanning the states of California, Nevada and Washington, with four located in Spokane. In 1982 corporate decided to relocate to Spokane, from the Napa, CA location, bringing cocaine and fast living along with them. The house of cards eventually … collapsed.
In need of a break I sublet the house which I was renting, hopped on my motorcycle, and simply “got lost” for nearly nine months. After returning to Spokane I re-connected with Ray Spanjer, my friend who had originally hired me at Eucalyptus. Ray was now managing a video store which was looking to expand and open additional locations. I suddenly found myself in my second “dream job” … working for The Video Station.
The Video Station – An Early Revelation
When I wasn’t selling video hardware, software, accessories, and renting movies, I was reading owner’s manuals and watching movies while being paid good money. One of the oldest and wisest quotes in business is “know your product” … I knew my product. The Video Station was the second video store to open in Spokane with the first being Video Unlimited, owned by Rory Berg who was also a very popular local bass player. Coming from a wealthy and prominent family Rory was all about flash & bling, which not only adorned most of the fingers on his hands but was also how he ran his business. In contrast The Video Station operated on the concept of family. We were the first to create a “video club” and knew all of our members and most of our customers by name. Additionally we knew our customer’s favorite movies genres as well as their actors, actresses, directors and producers. It was not uncommon to have members call us and say, “pick four movies and set them aside, you know what I like”. It was rare to see anyone come through our door without a smile. Our customers trusted us. People drove into Spokane from rural communities with visiting us as one of their prime destinations. I began to realize that through our high level of personalized customer service we had developed and created our own personal entertainment community. Little did I know how this revelation of community would impact and ultimately define my life.
I enjoyed my employment at The Video Station for the next three years, eventually moving into management while continuing to gig and play music with a variety of local bands. It was early in 1986, while playing with Mad Hatter, that I met Lee Sanchez, a keyboard player from Albuquerque, NM. I don’t recall what brought Lee to Spokane but do recall that he needed a band with gigs and we needed a keyboard player. Lee was “top shelf”. Although never formally trained he was a master at duplicating sounds and composed music on his keyboards. He was also more accomplished than anyone else in the band which found the keyboard position vacant by that summer. When Lee left the band Mad Hatter quickly disintegrated. In early September I received a call from Lee. He was in Nashville, TN, playing with a band called Hot Ice. They needed a bass player … how soon could I be there?
Within two weeks I was heading east, relocating to “Music City”. Hot Ice was a Top 40 cover band performing exclusively in premier hotels, resorts, and casinos. Our circuit kept us busy traveling for three to four months each tour, playing two weeks per venue and then landing back in Nashville for a short break in between tours. Touring was very enjoyable for me. Through it I discovered and fell in love with photography. Instead of partying with the bar staff after closing, and eventually finding my way back to my hotel room around 9 a.m, I was hitting the bricks with my camera in hand, in search of that day’s adventures. As we know nothing lasts forever, including Hot Ice. In the spring of 1988 I found myself back in Spokane. Feeling road worn I decided to take a break from music which meant I was in need of a job. The following Monday I resumed my previous position at … The Video Station.
Once the news got out that I was back in town the offers to join with the hottest Top 40 bands in the city began pouring in. I found myself turning down every one. Realizing how burned out I had become playing Top 40 hits five nights a week I vowed that my next musical project would be completely original. Working at The Video Station was gratifying but I felt that something was missing. This is when I decided to go to school and earn my degree in … photography.
I enrolled in Spokane Falls Community Colleges two year associates program that fall. The first year I was completely consumed by photography. Up at 6:30 a.m, in class by 8 a.m, out of class at 2:30 p.m, running to get to work by 3 p.m, working until 10 p.m, jamming home to study, then knocking off to make last call at the corner bar to unwind. Lather … Wash … Rinse … Repeat … this was my life. The curriculum consisted of only core science classes which was very heavy stuff. With no time to play music publicly my focus moved toward writing. This was an important period for me as I began to discover my inner voice. The second year of my studies proved to be less demanding and more inspiring. The curriculum’s focus was now on creating compelling images, which were not limited to the camera alone. Bringing those images to life in the dark room was also a part of the process. Seduced by the black and white medium and finding people as my preferred subject, I then found my photographic niche.
Bob Rice Photography
Musicians generally don’t have expendable cash. Regardless, you still need to promote yourself with a great photo being the cornerstone of your promotional package. I knew a lot of musicians and needed work assignments. I quickly found myself becoming very busy photographing artists and bands. This was the beginning of my twenty year career as a portrait photographer, specializing in black and white imaging. It was also during this time that I received a call from my then brother in-law, Hidde Hanenberg, asking me if I would be interested in forming an original band. When he said that Rick Brycson would be playing drums I didn’t have to think twice and instantly said, yes! Rick and I were in the same graduating class at Cheney High School. I had always wanted to play music with Rick but had never had the opportunity. During my four years attending high school there were only two premier drummers, Rick and Curt Flynn. I shared the rhythm duties with Curt in Angel Painted Lady. It was now time for me to share with my next … “musical soul brother”.
Formed in the spring of 1989 Pointed Sticks enjoyed ten years of creating music, which was described by the local press as, “A Boomtown Beat with Political Guitars”. Hidde, Rick, and I defined Pointed Stick’s core sound. We wrote a lot of songs, opened for a number of national touring bands, recorded and released an album titled “All Quiet On The Western Front” and came close to becoming a recognized Pacific Northwest band during the late 80’s and early 90’s grunge movement. Even though I was creating and performing music, as well as becoming a recognized photographer … something was still missing in my life.
Paying It Forward
My answer came in a phone call from an associate who was teaching photography through the City of Spokane’s Park and Recreations Department. He was looking for a change, and, would I consider taking over his teaching position? After reflecting back to the instructors and mentors that had taught me it didn’t take long for me to say yes! I loved teaching. What I found most rewarding were the moments when I could literally see the light bulb turn on in my student’s eyes, knowing that “they finally got it”! I also realized that I was broadening the connections with my community. I taught three quarters annually, consisting of eight 2 hr. classes each quarter. My financial compensation was $25 per class with a maximum class load of thirty students. By my second year of instruction my class had a waiting list every quarter. Again, nothing lasts forever. It was a sad day when I sent my letter of resignation to the program’s director. Roll film cameras were quickly becoming “a thing of the past” with digital cameras replacing them. My personal resistance to accept digital technology found me feeling increasingly ineffective as an instructor. Financial compensation had never been my motivation. After ten years of teaching it was time to pass the torch and … move on.
It was in the late 90’s, and early in the new millennium, when everything that was important to me began to crumble. My band, Pointed Sticks, broke up. I had left my teaching position and I began to feel the first waves of my photography business beginning to decline. I had been riding what seemed to be “a perfect wave” for a very long time. Then on September 11, 2001, everything crashed. After the smoke had cleared I received a call from a friend who was re-forming a band from the early 70’s. He was in need of a bass player … was I available?
Dead Man’s Pants
Formed in the wake of 9/11, Dead Man’s Pants had a good thirteen year run, finally disbanding in early January of 2014. Performing nearly all original music it is by far my favorite band of which I have been associated with.
It wasn’t long after forming Dead Man’s Pants when I re-connected with an old friend Lupito Flores, who had been a groupie of my previous band Pointed Sticks. After the band broke up I had lost contact with him but now found him, his new wife and first child, as my neighbors. A lifelong proponent of social justice and change, Lupito believed that Spokane was ripe and in need of a community radio station. One evening he made his proposal to begin creating his vision. This was the night that Thin Air Community Radio – KYRS, Spokane, WA, began its incubation process. In late October of 2003 I received a call from him saying, “turn on your radio”. The Beatles “She Loves You” was playing, and continued to play, over, and over again. We had not yet figured out how to engage the shuffle mode on our automated broadcaster but we were finally … “on the air”. On December 10, 2003 I broadcast my first Crossroads radio program on KYRS.
Crossroads @ KYRS – The Cosmic Wack In The Head
During this time I saw my photography business radically decline but continued to market myself as a traditional black and white photographic artist. Eventually losing my passion and what fight that I had left in me, I quietly began the process of slowly shutting down my business, beginning in 2008 and finally closing it’s doors in early 2011. It was also in early 2008, after nearly five years of broadcasting, when the universe decided that it was time to give me … a wack in the head. It dawned on me that I was in a unique position. I could conjoin my love of music, and those who create it, with a global listening audience. Realizing that the majority of the best music was not being heard, let alone the personal insights of the artists themselves, I decided that my program would be the conduit and that I would be the messenger creating a bridge between the artist and the listener. It was then that I developed my mission statement, “focusing on independent artists and their music”. I have many fond memories of airing Crossroads. After 600 weekly programs, which included over 1,000 artist appearances, I aired my final program on June 17, 2015. It was time for me to focus my creative energy entirely on Indie Air Radio.
Coming Full Circle
Indie Air Radio, LLC was born from the passion and commitment to music and art which I have been living my entire life. It is another milestone that I stand beside at this point in my personal journey. If you are a Indie Air Radio artist, who is reading this, you are a part of a very privileged and unique group that I am very proud to support. If you are a passive listener of Indie Air Radio I encourage you to become an active listening member in this very exclusive and unique musical community. If you are an active listening member of Indie Air Radio … Thank You!
… to be continued!