Hello again my wonderful fellow fans of 311! Welcome back to another edition of the fan spotlight. This week we feature a guy that was nominated by his wonderful wife Jen. It’s time to meet Mr. Bob Barr!
From the very start of Bob’s life music played an important role. He was just around the age of 3 when he received his first album, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was also right around this time that his parents divorced and music became the thing he could turn to when times were rough. “As far as I can remember, music has always played an integral part in my life, as I was always listening to records, the radio, and yes MTV (remember when they actually played music???).” It was in 1995 that 311 made their grand entrance into Bob’s life when he heard the song “Don’t Stay Home” on the radio. “Immediately I was intrigued as the song demonstrated a style of music that had pieces of what I enjoyed from each genre, but seemed to flow in a way I couldn’t imagine possible. A very short time later, the single and music video for “Down” hit the airwaves, and from that point I knew 311 was a band I need to seriously get into.”
Get into them he did. Bob says his obsession became vocal in the summer of 1996 when he went to see the band live for the first time. “From there I made it known that 311 was no doubt my favorite band, and that it was all 311, all the time.” His first show was a local radio event and the band only played for about a half hour but it didn’t take long for Bob to realize how incredible they were. One of Bob’s best friends Jim is also into the band and they’ve seen over 30 shows together, performed 311 karaoke together, and even covered songs like “Hive” and “Brodels” with Bob’s brother Joe’s band. Bob also has a crew of friends (they call themselves “The Perks”) that love the music and their bond grew because of the band. “Still working at the stadium throughout high school and college, I was able to get my friends jobs and we all worked together, which led to us reciting 311 lyrics and communicating out our obsession to anyone and everyone in our paths.”
Since 1996, Bob has seen 311 live 39 times and even has most of the ticket stubs to prove it. He’s been to the last four 311 Day events as well as seen shows in various states such as New York, D.C., and Virginia. His favorite event so far has been the 2008 311 Day in Nola. “I never knew what I was missing until I got there, and was completely overwhelmed by the 10,000+ guys and gals that were all together as one, celebrating not only the day (in this case the entire week), or the band, or the music, but the years of passion and devotion to the 311 “be positive, and love your life” mantra that we all adapted thanks to the message portrayed and lived by the 5 individuals who we have grown to admire.” Bob’s favorite regular tour shows include the Atlantic City show back in 2010 and his #39 show at the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. This was the area that all of “The Perks” met and grew up in. “Not only was it cool as hell to see Upper Darby on a 311 shirt, but the set list was absolutely incredible (opening with Welcome to Omaha Stylee to Do You Right AND no Amber!?!?!?!). It was truly a show for the diehard fans!”
Bob was raised in two different states because of his parents divorce. South New Jersey is where he spent his weeks and attended school, then on the weekends he stayed at his fathers place in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Bob said that most kids would be upset that their parents weren’t together but for him it was a blessing. “If it wasn’t for them separating, I would never have met my best friends, including my wife – and I absolutely had the best childhood I could imagine thanks to those guys.”
Since Bob has been a fan of 311 for almost 20 years, he can correlate most moments in his life to their album releases. “I guess you could say 311 has always been “there for me” without even knowing.” Bob said that as he grew and transformed it seemed that the music of 311 did the same. He met his wife Jen right around the time From Chaos was released, which he says was fitting for their relationship. They went through a rough patch but they saw things through and he said she’s been by his side ever since. Jen is also a fan of 311 and has seen them over 20 times at this point.
The album Evolver was released right around the time that Bob’s grandmother had a stroke, yet another major moment in his life. After she had her stroke she had a lot of memory loss and no longer knew who Bob was. “I was going through a tough time. I left my job that I loved going for a “more responsible” career with a mortgage company, broke up with Jen, and was dealing with the sickness and death of my grandmom. With all this, I was abusing drugs and alcohol to deal with the issues, to the point where I was alienating the most important people in my life. Evolver came out just when I needed it, not only as a distraction but a healthy alternative to dealing with the issues at hand.” The songs on the album helped Bob refocus his energy to a more positive path. He got back together with Jen, left the mortgage company, and ended up getting a full time job with a company in the sports and entertainment industry. “I got my life back together from a person and family standpoint. A few months after getting back together, Jen became pregnant and the most amazing life moment I could ever imagine transpired with the birth of my daughter Samantha (undoubtedly a gift from my grandmom looking down on us).”
Bob is now married to Jen and has two beautiful children, Samantha and Robbie. He shares his love of 311 with the kids and they have their own favorite songs. Bob has even gotten his mom and stepdad into the band and they’ve gone to the last two 311 days! Bob funds his 311 habit working at Aramark in the sports & entertainment division as the Director of Operations. He oversees the food and beverage operations and gets to travel all across the country supporting 600 stadiums, concert venues, national parks, etc. He’s even been able to meet some great artists such as Ozzy Osbourne, The Hives, and Bruce Springsteen!
Other bands that Bob loves are Pearl Jam (he has been into them ever since Ten was released), Grouplove, Cage the Elephant, Weezer, Rage Against the Machine, Foo Fighters, and a lot of other 90’s alternative. He also credits 311 for getting him into bands like The Urge, 2 Skinnee J’s, and RDGLDGRN. Something he says many people don’t know about him is he’s had to replace his 311 CD collection, not once, but twice!
“My first car was a 1990 Chevy Cavalier, a starter vehicle to get me to school and work in the late 90’s, nothing glamorous to say the least… but it was broken into while I was at work and my CD player and case were stolen, much to my dismay when I returned to my car! About a year later, after I spent a great deal of time and money to replace my music collection, my car was stolen. While my car was eventually located, of course – my “collection 2.0” was nowhere to be found. Lesson learned? Be thankful for digital media!”
Bob grew up bowling and participated in a league throughout his teenage years. In early 2002 he managed to bowl a “300” perfect game. “I was only the 7th person to ever bowl a perfect game at the bowling alley (which was over 50 years old). It was a memorable experience I must say! I haven’t been to that alley in years but I hear my name is still up on the wall – which is pretty cool.” His current hobby, or guilty pleasure, is collecting posters and vinyl records. “However, I only collect posters from shows that I have been to. I still have some work to do in completing both collections as it relates to 311 shows/albums, but I am definitely making progress, with owning all 4 311 Day show posters and some of the show-specific concerts as well.”
A great deal of thought was given to Bob’s answer for his favorite song. He chose “Eons,” saying it’s had the most impact on his life. “I literally get goose bumps every time I get surprised at a show hearing the initial guitar riff into “you got a wishing well within, that’s ready to begin…” and nothing beats singing along with “Nobody knows just what you’re battling inside you can hide” which I feel is an extremely impactful line that holds true for many of us.” He also said he wants to throw in the song “Do You Right” because it’s Jen’s favorite song, and she was awesome to nominate him for this spotlight. Bob’s all time favorite quote though comes from the song “Paradise” – “Music what I need to keep my sanity.” Bob said, “There is no doubt that music has been the medicine that continues to guide me through life’s daily challenges.”
Bob has yet to meet 311 but if he did he has this simple sentence to say. “Thank you for sticking together, never selling out, giving it all that you’ve got every time you hit the stage and studio, and for impacting my life for nearly 20 years!”
Now to the awesome fellow fans that are reading this, here is Bob’s message to all of you:
“I don’t think any of us thought that 20 years ago when we heard “Down” or “All Mixed Up” (or for those who were “lucky” enough to get into them in the earlier days) for the first time that we would have transcended as a fan base to the level where we are today. Deep respect to those who have dedicated their spare time over the years to bring the 311 community together – between community chat rooms, online radio stations, social media groups, trading posts, support groups (and last, but certainly not least, the Runt Rant!). Thanks to all of the excitable ones out there that keep us connected as a group and hold the keys that open doors to amazing events such as 311 Day, Pow-Wow, the Cruise, and having the boys just plain rock out every year (not just for an album tour like just about every other band out there). Keep livin’ and rockin’, and I’ll see you all at 311 Day 2016!”
That’s Bobs story my friends! I hope you were entertained, I know I was learning all about his love for 311! Keep on being the awesome people you all are and thanks for reading as always.
Much love – The Runt