Bob’s Bio

The Tidwell Bros. & Cedar Mtn. Boys

Bob started his Bluegrass career shortly after he met Sam and Bobby Tidwell (Thibodeau) who were his wife’s cousins. This was not long after his first son (Bob, Jr.) was born in 1966. Before that Bob played drums in a jazz combo in the US Navy from 1960-1964. When he met Sam and Bobby, Bobby wanted to play mandolin and needed a replacement for his duties as bass man. Assuming that Bob could keep time, he was designated the new bass man. Why not? Guess it took; after 50 years Bob is still playing bass.

Here they are: Sam, Hardy Brendle, Bobby, Bob

Now, if this wasn’t confusing enough with two Bob’s in the band, it came to pass that Bob’s next wife (and hopefully last) is also a cousin to the Thibodeau clan….but, not related to each other.

Another later iteration of the Cedar Mtn Boys was Sam and Bobby Tidwell, Bob, and another local guy Nelson Whipple. No pictures of this group have surfaced, yet.

Kennebec Valley Boys

When everyone seemed to flock to Maine, Bob was right there with them. The prior Cedar Mtn Boys regrouped and called themselves the Kennebec Valley Boys.

Dave Staber, Sam, Fred Pike, Bob, Nelson Whipple

The were well known in Maine for several years. Upon returning to Maine after living in RI for a few years, he eventually got back in with the KVB which at this time was probably Sam, Bill Kimball, Fred Pike, and Bob.

Don Stover & White Oak Mtn. Boys – Boston College

Bob played with Don Stover’s band for a couple of years beginning in 1972 after leaving Maine. Looking through Don’s discography you would see that Bob recorded with Don on two of his LPs:

West Virginia Coal Miner’s Blues / Don Stover & the White Oak Mountain Boys Old Homestead OHS 90011 1973 197303
Don Stover & the White Oak Mountain Boys / Don Stover & the White Oak Mountain Boys on the Rounder label 0039 1974

Don Stover & White Oak Mtn. Boys – Good Morning America
Don Stover & WOMB at Smokey Greene’s Festival

On the left you can see WOMB on Good Morning America. Left to right: Carl Rebello on fiddle inducted in MA Country Music Hall of Fame), Jack Tottle on mandolin, Herb Applin on guitar, Bob, Don.

Don Stover was one of bluegrass’ best loved musicians.
Stover was instrumental in spreading bluegrass in the northeast as a member of The Lilly Brothers, the house band at Boston’s Hillbilly Ranch from 1952 until 1970. Except for a short stint when he joined Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, in 1957, Stover performed with The Lilly Brothers at the club six shows a week, fifty weeks a year as well as on a daily radio show broadcast by WCOP. A performance by Stover and The Lilly Brothers on July 4, 1967 was taped and released as “Live At The Hillbilly Ranch” in 1996. Although the group disbanded in 1970, Stover continued to influence a new generation of bluegrass players. In addition to forming a new band, The White Oak Mountain Boys, Stover recorded a solo album, “Things In Life,” featuring mandolinist David Grisman. Originally released in 1972, the album was reissued in 1995.

Although he initially played banjo in the clawhammer style that he was taught by his mother, Stover altered his approach after hearing a Grand Ole Opry broadcast featuring Earl Scruggs playing in the more melodic, three finger, style with Bill Monroe And The Bluegrass Boys. During the 1940s, Stover balanced a full time job as a coal miner with performances with The Coal River Valley Boys.

In the mid-1970s, Stover relocated to Maryland. He succumbed to cancer on November 11, 1996 at the age of sixty-eight. ~ Craig Harris, All Music Guide

Joe Val & New England Bluegrass Boys – Indian Ranch

During this time period Bob also filled in for Bobby Tidwell (Thibodeau) in Joe Val’s band. He played several times at the Passim Coffee House in Cambridge, MA

Here he is with Joe Val and Bob French at a Smokey Greene Festival

Bob played with the Bluegrass Travelers in the early 70s. Good friend, Bill Hall formerly of Cumberland, RI. formed the band.
Bob also played in a band with Bill Hall and Randy Hawkins. No pictures available.

Northern Valley Boys

KVB wins the Maine Bluegrass Band of the year
Radio personality Bill Clement presenting the award

Boothbay Harbor Railroad
KVB at The University of Maine at Orono
Fred, Bob, Dave, Perley

Perley, Dave, Bob, Chris

Perley, Bob, Dave, and Chris getting some practice in at one of Smokey’s festivals. This one was a cold, wet festival.

Bob and Barry Crocker

Don Johnson, Ross Nickerson, Bob, Gary Kuitert, Peter McLaughlin

Peter, Gary, Bob, and Don
The Warheads recorded “Blast Off” in 1986 Just before Bob left (kicking and screaming) for Reno, NV

Perley Curtis of Bluegrass Supply days was in town with the Holly Dunn show and hung out with the guys. He even did the San Juan Bauptista Crafts Fair with High Strung. He stayed so long he had to reschedule his flight back – Holly Dunn’s band had already left.
Ross, Bob, Bonnie, Charlie, Dan Neuman
And then Ross came to town – and left…Louis below. Dan Neuman on fiddle
Louis Fetherolf Bob, Bonnie, Charlie, Dan

Feather River

Bob,Louis, Charlie, Jim Denoncourt playing for Nevada Days, Carson City, NV
Ross Nickerson,Charlie Edsall, Eric Thomas, Bob
Ted, Sam, Doug, Bob
Sam, Ted, Clint, Bob

Stone Creek

Jim, John, Bob, Millie,Gary

Copper River Band

Charlie Edsall, Bob, Jim Govern, John Thompson practicing at the Bluegrass on the River festival in Parker March 2005. Note five string acoustic electric bass.
Jim, Thomas, Bob, John, Yuma Crafts Fair January 2006.
Jim, Bob, Thomas, Dick, Scottsdale Library
Eric Thomas filling in For Jim at Havasu Landing, CA

Heaven’s Key

After Eric filled in for Jim he wondered if we could get the old Feather River vocal trio together again and do some shows at his church in Boulder, CO. With Ross gone, Dick said he’d be up for it so in 2007 we put together Heaven’s Key.

Eric, Bob, Charlie, Dick


Peter, Mark, Bob, Ross at the Good Shepherd in Sahuarita, AZ
Ross Nickerson & Friende at Fiddler’s Dream in Phoenix, AZ
X-Train at Pickin’ in the Pines in Flagstaff, AZ Sept. 2011 with special guest Doug Bartlett

X-Train went on to Tour Australia and New Zealand in the winter of 2011 and another trip to Australia in the winter of 2012. X-Train released three CDs, two were live from performances down under, and one called “Every Man For Himself “, a compilation from each member’s projects with other bands. After the band broke up, Mark and Peter formed the “Sonoran Dogs” and they have toured AU and NZ several more times.

In 1975 Bob moved back to Maine

The first band he played with was the Northern Valley Boy based in Cambridge, Maine (aka Happy Valley)

Left to right: Greg Boardman, Chris Prickitt, Dave Livingston, and Bob

He still had not ventured into vocals at this point.

Kennebec Valley Boys

Bob rejoined the KVB where he took up electric bass. This band played all over New England and Upstate New York at all of Smokey Greene’s annual festivals in the Adirondacks. Bob began singing lead with the KVB – his first song being “Jesse James”.

Recorded “Maine Train” INTERSTATE IS-76-200 (released to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Maine state)
Title song written by Sam Tidwell Cover art by Yodeling Slim Clark
“Last Log Drive” [Revonah RS-922  1976]

Bluegrass Supply Company

Bob was a founding member of Bluegrass Suppy Company which (he named and designed the logo) also did country gigs calling themselves Country Supply Company. Original Bluegrass Supply pickers and singers were Bob, Dave Dalton, Perley Curtis, and Fred Lantz. After Fred left, Chris Lee joined the band.
Original Bluegrass Supply Co.
By now, Bob had it figured out that he could sing harmonies, too.  Bob, Dave, and Perley had a harmony that, today, is still hard to beat. Perley went to Nashville and was part of Holly Dunn’s then Loretta Lynn’s band for quite some time. Not only was Perley an accomplished Dobro player but he played pedal steel for these top country bands.
Having fun Singing with Smokey Greene

Country Supply Company

Perley Curtis, Bob, Barry (in back on drums), Dave Dalton, and Chris Lee.

Moe and the Country Renegades

Bob played a regular Saturday dance night gig with Moe Littlefield at the Red Barn in a little Maine town near Bangor. Left to right: Brian Smith, Moe Littlefield, Bob, and Crawford Adams He worked with this band until it was time to leave for Tucson, Arizona December 22, 1981

Titan Valley Warheads

When we moved to Tucson in 1982, Bob left his instruments behind figuring he’d not be playing again. Not! When he was opening an account at the bank, the teller noticed his Bluegrass belt buckle and mentioned her husband was a musician and they played at a local pub. Off we went. Their bass player occasionally took extended trips to Mexico so Bob would fill in. Next thing he knew, he was a Warhead.

Don Johnson, Gary Kuitert, Bob, John Mattingly, Ross Nickerson

Ross, Peter, Gary, Bob, and Don at Al Smith’s Pub, Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ

High Strung Band

Bob left the Warheads (and Tucson) kicking and screaming. He didn’t want to leave; Fran had a job at Porsche Cars North America in Reno. But, all clouds have silver linings…so she kept telling him. After all, her new project leader was the Northern Nevada Bluegrass Assoc’s president. See, it ain’t always looks or smarts. That guy wanted a professional bass player in the association and she just happened to be a seasoned (or would be after THAT stint) programmer. Bob met Charlie Edsall through the local music shop and they knew instantly they were going to be in a band together. Next thing he knew  Bob, Charlie, Bonnie Ludwick, and Matt Smith were playing as the High Strung Band. Talk about some harmonies. Bob, Bonnie, and Charlie were hard to beat. However, one big change. Bonnie could only play guitar and bass. They needed Charlie on lead guitar so Bob took up the mandolin.
The band went through banjo players like no other band Bob was in. Bonnie never did like the banjo.First there was Matt, then Ross came to Reno, then after Ross left, Louis Fetherolf took over.
Charlie Edsall, Bonnie Ludwick, Bob, Matt Smith
Recorded “High Strung” HS 0004 [1991]
“Six of One; Half Dozen of the Other” BLCD 1363 [1993]
Feather River Band
Charlie Edsall, Bob, Erik Thomas, and Bob Smith in front
After Bonnie left High Strung to further her county music career, Bob, Charlie, and Louis formed a new band called Feather River. Since Bob was still playing mandolin, his son Jim who had been dabbling with Rock decided to get back into Bluegrass and took over bass duties.
Bob wanted to get back to playing bass where he was more comfortable therefore when super picker/singer and founding member of the original High Strung band, Erik Thomas, became available Bob went back to bass(ics).  Sorry Jim. Louis moved to California becoming police chief in yet another city, leaving the banjo slot open. Ross  was available again. Ross, Charlie, Erik, Bob This event was again Nevada Days in Carson City, NV – the next year. This was a place called “The Alley”. Friend Rick Alvarez took the picture from a neighboring roof. Then we left Reno to full time in our RV while Fran took jobs as a contract programmer. Bob always seemed to find a band to jam or play with. After several months in San Francisco, we decided to go to FL and visit with Sam in Polk City. Maybe look around for a contract, too. Gave notice at my contract and Bob had to finish his last gigs with the band, the final one being in Logandale, NV in October 1997

Cypress Creek Band

Ted, Sam, Mel, Bob
Original Cypress Creek (FL) band October 1999 Ted Locke, Sam Thibodeau, Mel Hancock , and Bob Denoncourt Left top taken at Wanda’s Dixieland Music Park in Waldo, FL October 1999 After Mel went  back in to country music, Doug Driskell took over on guitar. Left center is  Ted Locke, Sam Thibodeau, Doug Driskell, and Bob at the Sertoma Youth Camp Bluegrass festival Brooksville, FL Ted has taught many local musicians who have later played with national Bluegrass bands including Aubrey Haynie, and Jason Barrie. After Doug moved to NC, we were fortunate enough to find Clint Dockery, a superb mandolin/fiddle player who was willing to play guitar. The band recorded five albums while Bob was a member, three with Mel and one each with Doug and Clint.
(1) “Knee Deep” 1998 (2) “On the Road with the Cypress Band” 1999 (3) “Thank God for the Lighthouse” (1999) (4) “New Look, New Sound” 2000 (5) “Florida Blues” 2001 (6) “Edie Sings” [Sam’s wife Edie] 2000
Bob met John Thompson and Jim Govern at the Wickenburg Festival in 2003 where they decided they’d be a band. However, at this point, they needed a guitar player since John played banjo and Jim the mandolin. The guys jammed with other musicians and met Gary and Millie Vannoy. After a short period, they decided to put Stone Creek together. Since Millie played bass, Bob played rhythmn guitar and continued with his vocal duties. Here they are the the Canyon State Sweet Onion Festival in Glendale, AZ

After Gary and Millie went “on the road” full time in their RV, the guys were without a guitar player again. Copper River was formed with Bob’s longtime friend Charlie Edsall on guitar. When Charlie relocated from Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe, it was no longer feasible for Charlie to stay with the band. At this point, Thomas Porter was free from his commitments as mandolin player with another band and decided to audition on guitar. After a few sessions together, everyone was pleased with the new sound and asked Thomas to join the band. Copper River won the Wickenburg Bluegrass Band contest in November 2005 then went on to play the Blythe Bluegrass festival in 2006 as a showcase band and as a result were booked for the January 2007 festival as regular performers. This exposure led to invitations to the Colorado River Bluegrass festival in Bullhead City, AZ,  the Quartzite Bluegrass Festival in Quartzite, AZ famed for its gem and mineral shows. Copper River was invited for a “tweener” slot at Bluegrass on the River in Parker, AZ in March and instead they filled in for Carl Shifflett and Big Country on Saturday afternoon – a preferred time slot. Other bookings came from these including  Benson BGF in May 2006, Prescott Bluegrass festival June 2006, Pinteop/Lakeside August 2006, and Bluegrass in the Foothills in Plymouth, CA.  Note the different styles bass Bob has played. He began with a Kay upright bass then went to a fretless electric bass for more mobility on stage. He continued playing acoustic and electric with various bands and then went to a five string accoustic electric when Copper River was formed. With new technolgy making the blend of wood and electonics sound more acoustic in upright electric basses, he now plays an Eminence Upright Acoustic Electric four string.   John left the band just before the Bluegrass in the Foothills gig and son Jim’s banjo player, Joseph Martini,  filled in that day since he was there already. You can see Jim’s current band at Then Dick Brown decided to fill in having just left Lost Highway. After a few gigs, he became a member of the Copper River Band. Below left is his first with Copper River at the Scottsdale Library.
Dick Brown, Thomas Porter, Bob, Jim Govern

Copper River chosen 2007 Band of the Year by Huck Finn Jubilee National Bluegrass Playoffs


Craig Wilson, Dick Brown, Eric Thomas, Charlie Edsall, Bob, Leroy Mack, Heaven’s Key concert in the park, Loveland, Co

Sometime around the end of 2009 Bob’s old pal Ross Nickerson was commuting back and forth from his place in Tucson and his friend’s place in Australia. When he was stateside, we would have an occasional jam with various friends that were available. At one point we jammed together with Peter McLaughlin and Mark Miracle and all of us thought this was a pretty special sound. So, we started getting some local gigs as Ross Nickerson and Friends. Our first performance was March 2010 at the Good Shepherd coffee house in Sahuarita, AZ.

X-Train at Tucson Bluegrass Festival Oct. 2010

The name came about something like this: Fran posted a video on Facebook then took it down to do some editing. One of the guys – Peter or Mark – asked where it was. She replied that Bob had edited it to “remove some extraneous” stuff. then to which Mark replied, “Extraneous Stuff – now there’s a band name!”. Peter replied, ” Spell it ‘X-train-y-us-tough’ and people would just call us ‘X-train’ or ‘Us-tough’ —-sounds like a bada$$ rap band.” Then Ross replied, “X train sounds pretty good…” Mark added, ” ‘X-Train’ it is. We need a $ captain, transportation coordinator and booking guru. I’ll take care of sound and stage. Our first project will be called “Let’s Kick some…” DOH!

X-Train back at Good Shepherd Coffee House March 2011 with Guest Doug Bartlett