YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


The Spirit of Crassness Not Lost on Bobs


Scrapping notions for Fourth of July and Groundhog Day albums as too commercial, the Bobs--variously described as an "alternative a cappella" singing group and a "band without instruments"--have opted for a Bobs'-eye view of Christmas.

The result is "Too Many Santas," an album that's also the basis of a concert Friday at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

"We're pushing it doing the Santa show the day after Thanksgiving," allowed Richard Bob Greene. "But if the stores can do it . . ."

Greene, in fact, had a tad more to say about those stores, specifically about a Christmas merchandising season that now seems to start after Halloween.

"It makes you feel like being a guerrilla, going into those stores and tacking up some other holiday, putting Valentine's stuff all over the Christmas displays," he said by phone last week after a performance on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. "Part of our Christmas message is: Don't shop at the mall!"

There may be too many Santas where this group is concerned, but there can never be too many Bobs. Greene is joined by Jane Bob Scott, Matthew Bob Stull and Joe Bob Finetti.

According to artist bios, Greene, with his very deep voice, serves as the ensemble's woofer, at 58-477 hertz, or cycles per second. Scott, the only woman, is the tweeter, at 164-698 hertz; Stull is the mid-range horn, at 130-620 hertz; and Finetti earns a berth as "mid-range driver, 44-45 mph." Greene believes those ranges, Finetti's aside, are relatively accurate--"pseudo-scientifically accurate," he said.

Selections from the new album, the Bay Area group's eighth, make up half of the Irvine Barclay program. The other half, Greene said, will consist of "your normal Bobs chaos."

That would include outrageous covers of classic songs, with vocally rendered "instrumental" lines, for which the Bobs have been best known for 15 years (i.e., Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary") and a bevy of quirky original tunes, some no doubt off last year's "Plugged."

Lest one think Greene a Grinch, consider "Santa's Got a Brand New Bag," a seasonal variation on a James Brown classic, or "Mambo, Santa, Mambo." Then there's "Ms. Claus Want Some Lovin'," a hymn to the spirit of giving.

At the same time, "Too Many Santas" isn't mere whipped cream on the eggnog.

"Yuleman vs. the Anti-Claus" finds the fiendish Anti-Claus "turning sharing into selling, giving into getting." And "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas"--about a wife about to leave her husband, and everybody at the Christmas party knows it but him--may be too poignant and true to life for most people's holiday spirits.

"Oh, I don't know," Greene said. "A lot of people aren't happy around the holidays. But that's what we do, hold these themes up to the light and sing about them, whether it's on a personal or societal level."

The Bobs enjoy the idea of themed albums and concerts; it's been almost a decade since they were commissioned by the Oberlin Dance Collective to write and perform "The Laundry Cycle," based on doing the wash.

But what with only one of the Bobs having had real-life dreidel experience--"Janey does," Greene said--he's nixed the idea of a Hanukkah show. Or a "Too Many Moseses" show: "Unless, of course, we could get Charlton Heston."

* Who: The Bobs.

* When: 8 p.m. Friday.

* Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine.

* Whereabouts: Take the San Diego (405) Freeway to Jamboree Road and go south. Turn left onto Campus Drive. The theater is on campus near Bridge Road, across from the Marketplace mall.

* Wherewithal: $18-$22.

* Where to call: (714) 854-4646.

Los Angeles Times Articles