We had the good fortune of connecting with Bobby Murray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bobby, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
Throughout my life I’ve heard it’s important to find your passion and dedicate yourself fully to it. As the popular phrase goes, “jack of all trades, master of none,” and that seems to support this concept. But as a multi-instrumentalist and entrepreneur, that’s never quite sat right with me. So I looked a little deeper, found the origin of that phrase, and noticed it left out a key component. The complete phrase is actually “Jack of all trades, master of none, but often times better than a master of one.” This suggests an entirely opposite view of the concept, and resonates much more with the way I view the world.
That doesn’t mean I’m not passionate about anything, it simply means I try to focus on my full self rather than on one singular thing I’m passionate about. I’m constantly curious; I love trying new things, especially if they’re outside my supposed box. It keeps my days interesting, and in the greater sense, it helps me listen better by opening my mind to new ideas and expanding my understanding of paths outside my own. The world needs both specialists and generalists. Like most issues in life, it’s all about balance.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started gigging during my undergrad in Sacramento. I was studying classical tuba but I was playing bar shows, mostly on trombone, with swing bands, salsa bands, funk bands, reggae bands and pretty much whoever would have me. Since these groups were typically small, I was often allowed to bring my little tuba and my trumpet so I could switch it up depending on what the song called for. This is right around when I got into brass band music.
A buddy of mine visited New Orleans and came back obsessed with N.O. culture. He decided to start a second-line brass band so he asked me to play sousaphone. I didn’t really know anything about second-line music and I didn’t know how to play basslines, but I had sung bass in my college vocal jazz group, so I did my best. Eventually I switched to trombone and gained a greater understanding of the brass band culture and all in all, I had the best time I ever had in music.
Fast forward to 2014, my own dreams of starting my own group began to manifest. I was living in Southern CA, finishing up my Master’s degree and working as a musician at Sea World and Disneyland. With great connections, the knowledge and the passion to do it, I had my first attempt at running a brass band.
The first take was far from perfect, and missed the mark in many ways. But the biggest gap to be filled was my lack of experience as a leader. Timing also wasn’t on my side with starting this project, as a full-time offer playing for the Disneyland Band came my way, so I shelved the dream for the time being.
By the spring of 2016, the time seemed right to branch out and try again. With the knowledge I’d gained from my past failures, I approached this new group differently. I started gathering great musicians who had the right attitude, a cool vibe, and who I liked being around. We were just colleagues at first, but as time has progressed, we really became friends.
We’ve changed a few members up since that time and evolved our collective vision as we’ve grown up as a band. We don’t always agree on everything because of our unique backgrounds, (nor should we) but ultimately, we talk about what matters most to each of us and I strive to use our platform to get that message across. For us and for me it’s all about inclusivity, connection, innovation, and always staying curious.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, my answer would have been a little different pre-pandemic, but there’s still a ton of great places to visit in the greater LA area. While dine-in options may be complicated and controversial, LA’s takeout and delivery scene has gotten so much better in the past six months. Tacos Don Goyo in Downey, Masa of Echo Park, Joey’s Barbeque in Chino, and any of the ramen restaurants in Little Tokyo are some of my favorite places to eat.
I’m also really into nature and some of my favorite pandemic-friendly places to enjoy LA’s natural beauty are Joshua Tree National Park, Newport Bay and Beach, Lake Elsinore and Lake Perris, the greenbelt between the 605, 60 and 57 freeways, Chino Hills State Park, the Mt. Baldy area, and my favorite, the San Gabriel River.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It’s nearly impossible to choose just one person to shoutout. Some of my current greatest influences are Steve Jobs, Simon Sinek, and Brene Brown, Tony Robbins, and Stephen Covey. But my mom and dad were really the first major influencers in my life. They taught me to trust myself, but remain open-minded and always maintain a questioning mindset.
Connor Yasuda, Courtney Anne Wiseman, Jes Workman, The Vision Field, Felipe Reynoso, Adrienne Murray, Even Keel Weddings, Stephanie Vasilakis, Studio 627