Volume 11, March 2021

Buenos Dias, buckaroos and buckarettes!

I'm Bob - welcome to the bunker! You may know me from the band Big Medicine Head or daytime television.  This monthly missive from the land of tumbleweeds and the lonesome six string guitar features news from the frontier, music and prose. Each issue will have a downloadable track and lyrics, along with the backstory of the song. For the duration of the pandemic we'll also feature live songs from the bunker. Call me crazy, but I'm giving all this away for free.

This is the first Nevada issue, but it won't be the last. If you know me at all you know that there was a period in my life where I disappeared into Nevada. This time is not well documented. Were it not for the songs I wrote there would be no record at all. There are rumors of whiskey, Telecaster twang, and dusty saloons in small towns like Dayton, Virginia City and Ely. 

If you'd like to revisit past issues of Tales of the Western Hemisphere you can find them at bobgemmell.com

S O N G  o f  t h e  M O N T H
Sit back and relax as we explore the Bob Gemmell and Big Medicine Head song catalog. The download instructions are at the bottom of this newsletter.

The Restoration Bar

I became an accidental citizen of Reno. I was living in California, heading back after a visit to eastern Nevada. As I was approaching Donner Summit in the Sierras a snowstorm made the mountains impassable. I became snowed in - I couldn't go forward and I couldn't go back. I spent the night shivering in my car. The next morning I was able to dig myself out enough that I could limp back down the hill to Reno.

I was working as the manager of a record store in Yuba City, California at the time. It was part of a chain. With nothing to do in Reno but wait for the snow to melt I wandered into the Reno store that was affiliated with the one I managed in California. They were looking for a manager. I asked them if I could be the manager. They said yes. I never left Reno. 

Johnny Fingers is a legendary guitarist in Reno, and we played together in The Boston Wranglers, a cow-punk outfit. Johnny and I ran around a lot in those days, and Johnny introduced me to a local bar called the Little Nugget. It was carved out of the kitschy downtown Reno casino strip, a tiny dive wedged in between a number of gambling joints that were past their prime and hadn't been vital since Sinatra was king.

If you listen to any of the Big Medicine Head albums you'll find direct references to Nevada, and songs that are obviously inspired by The Silver State. Four Points South, The Lonesome Desert Crawl, Ghost Town, Queen of the Western Hemisphere and other tracks fit this definition. This is most true of The Restoration Bar

I wrote The Restoration Bar about the Little Nugget, but it's really about any dive one might wander into in Reno, where hope has faded, but where the locals all remember each other's names. 


One of the lines from the song is about death on a barstool: "A famous rodeo clown died in this spot - it was the last joke he ever cracked". Imagine my joy when I found this photo. Of a clown. On a barstool. In Reno.

Listen here, or follow the download instructions below.

I hope you dig it.

The Restoration Bar

Sail up the sidewalk
past the click clack of of nickel stacks
and sailor tattoos
Coffee shops rented cops
lights that never ever stop
and faded barstools

Pawn shop cash swap
this is how we measure loss
the last chance blues
One you were the King of Cool
now there’s trouble
right down in your shoes

At the Restoration Bar we all know
who we are and where this road goes
sorry I forgot your name
after all we’re all the same

Naugahyde cemetery
bustin’ out of January
aces and jacks
Red and black stack
you lost it in a poker shack
but do you really want it back?

A famous rodeo clown
died on this spot
it was the last joke he ever cracked
Bartender tricks
glass bricks and lousy tips
in The Biggest Little City

At the Restoration Bar we all know
who we are and where this road goes
raise your glass, forget the past
tomorrow we will all be back

Someone’s waiting on the wire
here we are
here we are
echoes whisper down the wire
here we are

At the Restoration Bar we all know
who we are and where this road goes
sorry I forgot your name
after all we’re all the same



America, After the War was just released - it's blowing up the internet - the highest views and likes we've ever received on YouTube and Instagram - check it out here.

S O N G  f r o m  t h e  B U N K E R
Each month we spin up a new song from the foxhole we find ourselves in. 

My sister Robin has always been super supportive, and she always looked after me if I was down. It was during one of these blue phases that she invited me to come out and live with her in Ely, Nevada. She got me a bartending gig at The Bank Club, a rummy casino where she had some juice. 

I wrote Ghost Town about Ely, but it's also about Chico, California and any other small town in America. It's about the moment you realize that the town you're from isn't the town you belong in.

Listen here, or click on the photo of me and Rex.

Me and Rex

Finally...there is this:

The editorial staff at Tales of the Western Hemisphere is proud of our ability to uncover talent that had been inaccessible by popular culture. A future issue will include the work of two such individuals: Kristufar, an Arabic poet whose pen cuts like a knife and dances like a feather on a summer breeze; and Lumi, whose talent with a paintbrush is only equalled by her deftness with a pen.