Bobby, Johnny & Me

by Peter Twitchell

Today I am grateful for my former bandmate guitar extraordinaire: Robert JM Gregory who was always there for me with his amazing guitar licks and riffs on the guitar neck when I was producing my CD recording of “Eskimo Jam”.

Bobby not only helped me, but many other Bethel, Alaska musicians including Jack Hopstad, Bob Winkleman, Mutt Jung, Joseph Andrew, and many other countless pickers and sound like a million bucks, me included!

Bobby Gregory is also a true painter of Eskimo lyrics of cultural narratives in his unique Yup’ik songs like “Big Blue Sky”, “Steambath Song”, “Nakleng Wiinga”, “At the Corporation”, “Caskaqa”, “I, I”, Oil Spill at my Fishcamp”, “Cork Me”, “Pray For Me” and others like “Pretty Yup’ik Girl”.

All I did was ask Bobby to play a Roy Buchanan guitar riff and he did. For my appreciation for Bobby’s help I gave him a guitar which was just a small token of my appreciation.

I recruited Bobby to play in the band we put together – John David, Bobby, and me. For a while there we were one of the Bethel’s local home boys bands for the late 1970s to early 1980s.

Even then Bobby in his mid teens burned the building down with his blazing guitar licks. Bobby’s guitar wizardry talent and skill was no accident. Bobby’s dad Paul Gregory was a gifted musician playing the piano, the guitar, and his favorite – the harmonica.

His mom Mary Gregory led the choir and played the keyboards every Sunday through the 1960s and 1970s. Even his dad Paul confided in me one day that his son Bobby was a “guitar genius”.

John David came from a long line of Eskimo drummers and his dad Andrew often played his harmonica during his visits to my mom and dad’s house across the river from Bethel. Both Andrew David and Paul Gregory were common visitors at our house.

My mom played the keyboards and mandolin. My dad David played guitar and sang. Interesting how Bobby, John, and me got together.

2 Comments

  1. This is for Peter Mitchell my name is lynaye Prior and the name is twitchell.i was a 6th grade teacher in bethel for 2 years in 1968 through 1970 I would love to try and teach any of my former students I have such wonderful memories of bethel

  2. Message for Peter Twitchell. Is this Twitchell a common Native name. In high school in a small town in Oregon I had a Native Eskimo teacher who was from the Nome area, I think. We just knew him as :”Mr. Twitchell”. He had two daughters. I went to school with Margie and the other girl was a year or so younger and I have forgotten her name but I heard she returned to Alaska and now a big cheese in the Native Corporation. One of my ancestral names was also Twitchell but I believe it came from Ireland.

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