Trumpet/Saxophone/Lead Guitar (1964 – 1969)
Memories of the Nitecaps
WOW, what an experience, and a wonderful journey it was playing with the Nitecaps. Back in those days it wasn’t about girls, it wasn’t about drugs, it wasn’t about alcohol and it wasn’t about money, it was all about the love of music, and a bunch of guys that believed in each other! That belief was instilled in us by Jim Bruno (Jimmy Nite), my lifelong friend.
He motivated us and if someone didn’t know how to play something, he would learn it and teach it to them. Pretty incredible; thanks Jim. I remember the first gig that we played that we actually got paid money for – well, I think we got paid. I never got the money; my brother Butch ended up getting my five dollars somehow. At that time I didn’t care because I was so amazed that we were getting money for something that was so much fun.
And then there was always the time that we played up in Modesto at the Purple Turnip, and Jim had us all go out and play this game called snip (looking for something that didn’t exist and I was the only one who didn’t know it). I think I was the last one out in the field looking for a snip and everybody except me was in the house having hot chocolate. Funny things like that you never forget. Just want to say it was so cool growing up with good people like Jim, Larry, Johnny, Kevin, Phil, John Labum and Robert and of course my cousin Ian and brother Butch, and others.
Life after the Nitecaps
Like the other guys, I continued to play in different bands. I played at the Warehouse in San Jose with Willy Scott and the Velvets and I hooked up with Moses Valdez, who used to play with the Barons of Soul and travel all over the country. There were also different bands like Axes, Racer, Six Pack, High-Stepping Band and more.
From there, I found myself ready to make a change in life and started going to church. I ended up being the music minister for 12 years at Victory Outreach Church, leading worship over the special events. I was also in the Victory Band, and we traveled to different churches, special events and to prisons, ministering to the prisoners.
I’m now getting ready to retire from my job of 30 years, but I’ll never retire from music. I’m still playing music and recording with Moses Valdes and am just loving life. I want to thank Jim and the Nitecaps for everything.
Love you, Guys!
Memories of Bob
By Jim Bruno
Bob Martin joined the band when it was still a surf band but we were already transitioning to soul group. He was a great member of the Nitecaps and a lifelong friend.
Bob was Butch Martin’s younger brother and honestly, wherever Butch went, Bob went with him. Even before Bob was in the band, every place we played, Bob came with us. Bob was at all the rehearsals and all of the surf gigs before he joined the band. We would kiddingly say “Let’s just give him a trumpet and let him join the band.” He did exactly that and Bob started playing the trumpet (quite well, I might add). It’s worth mentioning that at this point, Bob was 12 years old.
To this day, Bob is a fantastic musician and he really was able to just pick up any musical instruments and start playing it. He was our first trumpet player, and when Phil joined the group, Bob added saxophone to this abilities.
Before Bob joined the group, we only had Johnny Labum playing saxophone, but since we were playing surf music, having just one saxophone worked well. Truthfully, though, adding that second horn really started to change our sound for the better, so adding Bob on the trumpet was a great move. Another one of Bob’s abilities was he was a very good dancer and was great at doing the choreographed moves that we created for the group.
All of the guys in the band were good dancers, but some where better than others, and I have to put Bob on the top of the list as being a extremely good dancer. It was pretty obvious from the beginning he had the gift. And still does to this day.
We were also very lucky that Bob and Butch’s father was very supportive of our group. When Bob expressed an interest in wanting to play music, his dad was more than willing to go out and get instruments for him.
But Bob lived up to the responsibility. I actually believe Bob is another one of those gifted people whose musical talent is God-given. It’s so funny that we just took this all for granted early on; Bob just picked up these instruments and started playing them as if he already knew how. Don’t get me wrong; he practiced a lot but he made great strides quickly.
When the band changed in 1967 to the second version, Bob came with us but dropped the horns and became our lead guitar player, which is what he really wanted to play all along. I’m sure that the opportunity to play the guitar at that juncture was great for Bob; he just picked up on guitar playing like a duck to water. As the years progressed, Bob and I played in a lot of bands together and we also both took guitar lessons from Warren Nunes, one of our mentors. Warren had a profound effect on our music abilities, and to this day, Bob is an amazing guitar player. He has had many other musical experiences besides the Nitecaps, but like the rest of us, this is where it all started. Bob stayed with the group until the group disbanded; from there, he continued on to Loose Ends and Loose with myself, Kevin, Ian and Richard Alves.