An untraditional violinist comes to Glenwood
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” In this world of ours, do you want to wing it, or do you want to “Yang” it?
Let rock violinist Bobby Yang explain.
“To ‘Yang It!’ is the do something to the best of your ability, while using a personal style,” he said. “I know it’s simple, not a very glamorous statement.”
And it’s exactly has gotten him where he is.
In the last few years, Yang, 33, and his acoustic strings have broken onto the national music scene. Along with his band, the Unrivaled Players, he recently released “No. 1 Tribute,” a collection of classic and modern rock covers. On his website, you can find pictures of him looking cool and hard-core. You can watch video of him jumping and hollering as he fires off tunes by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Queen. His violin screaming, his band charging in the background, it’s the kind of fun, exhausting music you’ve almost got to be well-hydrated for.
Yeah, he seems to have that rock star persona down pat.
Funny, though, he doesn’t sound caught up in it.
“I don’t believe in God-given talent,” he said. “I’m a big believer in practice in passion.”
Talking by phone from his home in Atlanta, Yang was laughing and joking and being downright humble as he described himself. “Anybody can be anything,” he stressed. In his mind, the only difference between him anyone else is a whole lot of study.
For him, it began at 5.
At first, it was an “enforced affair,” he said, one that he put in the same category as homework or those advanced math classes he’d later take in high school. Then, 10 years into it, he was sent to an intensive string seminar in upstate New York. Over the course of seven weeks, he met other players from all over and developed a “sense of community,” he said. For some reason, his thousands of hours of practice started to make sense.
“That’s where I developed the passion for what I was doing,” he explained.
He carried it with him to college, even though his parents didn’t the see the point of him continuing on with music. Between his calculus and economics classes, he applied to the University of Michigan’s music program. The first his folks heard of this was when they received a letter stating that he’d gotten in, full-ride scholarship and all.
It was there, in Ann Arbor, that he started to explore that rocking style that would totally set him apart. He received bachelors and masters degrees under the tutelage of Paul Kantor (Kantor gave him the tools “to play until I bleed,” said Yang). For years after, he was honing his skills in Aspen, playing clubs four or five nights a week with nearly every band that swept through town. Later, he moved on to Atlanta, where he met the guys from Collective Soul and other bands in the “Top 40” crowd. In the last three years, he’s started to became a real musical somebody, touring like crazy with his band. Future gigs include performances with Big Head Todd and at both Republican and Democratic national conventions. He even plays about once a month with Kevin Costner’s group.
“It all makes sense,” he said. “I’ve been given a chance to shine. It’s kind of become instinct, I guess, to perform and give it my all.”
He then let out a message to all the “doubters, the haters, the club owners,” who just don’t get it. This is full-fledged rock ‘n’ roll, he said, even without the “big, frizzy hair and pyrotechnics.”
In his words, it’s also a slice of the “super American dream.” He’s living the idea that if you work hard enough, the world is possible. Every step along his journey, he explained, he’s learned the same thing about success.
“Everybody needs the time to make what they do their own,” he said.
There are no shortcuts, no gimmicks, no excuses.
You just have to Yang it.
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