Bob Mora & the Third Degree

Blues, Reggae, original tunes and more

Bob Mora and the Third Degree are one of the premier bands in Northern California for playing Blues, Reggae, and New Orleans dance music. Bob grew up in Chicago and started playing music at an early  age. His mother and three older sisters played classical violin and piano, and Bob followed, taking piano and viola lessons. It was fortunate that friends of the family lived across the street and the mother and father couple both played in the Chicago symphony orchestra. Music being their life, lessons and recitals and performances at the local school happened several times a year. At school Bob would also sing Elvis Presley songs and others he heard on the radio for his school mates for nickels dimes and quarters, his first gig.

By the time he was in the seventh grade one of his friends turned him on to WVON radio, the black radio station in Chicago that played Blues, Soul, R&B and Motown. Late at night Bob could pick-up WLAC out of Nashville, TN that was also playing the great Black music which was part of the renascence of the early and mid-nineteen sixties. Soon Bob’s classical musical training went out the window and he went to the local music store and bought 2 Marine Band harmonicas, a G and a C for a dollar and a quarter each. He also purchased a couple of records that featured harmonica, “Sonny Boy Williamson with the Yardbirds” and “Blues Volume 2“, which had a collection of different artists like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Memphis Minnie, and Willie Mabon.

When Bob was fifteen his parents moved to Sacramento and he started his sophomore year at McClatchy high school, which he hated and consequently his grades also reflected his misery. The following year his parents had discovered Grass Valley and John Woolman school and Bob was enrolled in his Jr. year feeling like he had discovered the ‘Promise Land’, here was a collection of intellectuals, artists, misfits, musicians, Quakers concerned about war and injustice, and refuges from public schools. Bob started his first band with some of his school mates and they did their first gigs the summer after their graduation.

1970 and 71 found them living in a flat in London, “busking” in the subway and playing some gigs at the Troubador a London, folk club that Bob Dylan had played. Upon returning to the US. they put the band from John Woolman back together and had a band house at the corner of Dugan and Lime Kiln Rd., not unlike the movie “Animal House” When the band broke up the summer of 1973, Bob and his guitar player buddy Jimmy hitchhiked to Chicago, got warehouse jobs, and went out to the Blues clubs in what Bob called his “Blues Sabbatical”. Several nights a week they would go hear the Blues legends, who were playing mostly on the South Side before the Blues had become very popular and commercialized. At that time, Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells played on Sunday afternoons with drums and bass at the Checkerboard, with no cover. Right around the corner from Bob and Jimmy’s crappy apartment, the Bob Reedy blues band was the house band at the “Wise Fools” with Jimmy Rogers as the special guest and Sam Lay on drums. Bob would sit in whenever he could and try to absorb the music going from club to club. One night, BB King and James Cotton played a big show at an entertainment venue in Chicago that Bob and Jimmy attended. The show ended about midnight and Bob and Jimmy went over to the Wise Fools where Jimmy Rogers was playing with the Bob Reedy band. About 1:30am, BB King, James Cotton and Paul Butterfield all walked into the Wise Fools, and the joint stayed open until 5 or 6 am.

Bob made several trips between California and Chicago in the intervening years and formed the band, “Little Bobby and the Lovelites” in Grass Valley with McHale Graham on Bass. Following that band came “Close to the Bone” which played at Cirino’s when they had live music. The Third Degree Band formed in 1993 and has been playing in California and Nevada. Its new members for the last 3 to 5 years include John Girton (guitar), Alan Feeney (keyboards), Tim Bulkley (drums), Rob Holland (bass), Bob Mora (vocals and harmonica), and special guest Cat Girton (back-up vocals).