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Bob Haworth shares stories from the road

Bob Haworth's life has come full circle since he excelled at music at his junior high school and high school in Medford. 

The singer, songwriter and guitarist enjoys a contented life with his wife, Meri, after a long career playing folk music with The Brothers Four and The Kingston Trio. The Haworths relocated from Colorado to Jacksonville to live closer to Meri's mother, and now he plays solo shows, reconnects with old friends, makes new fans, teaches private lessons and is writing a book filled with stories of being on the road with the bands.

Haworth was with The Brothers Four from 1970 to '85, and The Kingston Trio from '85 to 2005. The time touring and recording with the groups was well spent, he says.

"It was a great era for music. The songs we sang told stories, the lyrics had meaning, and the melodies were easy for listeners to sing along. That whole era was about folks joining together in music. We encouraged people to sing along at our concerts, and everyone knew the words. Each of our shows was like a big hootenanny.

"It was a huge honor to be invited to become a part of it," Haworth says. "I'd never traveled much, and my first show with The Brothers was in Bermuda. The band also was established in Japan, so we spent a lot of time performing there."

Haworth will present a solo show from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, at EdenVale Winery, 2310 Voorhies Road, Medford. Tickets cost $15 and include one glass of wine and appetizers. Call 541-512-2955, ext. 2, or see www.edenvaleorchards.com for reservations.

On a 1975 trip to Japan, Haworth asked The Brothers' road manager if he had any connections to Yamaha Guitars. He was told that if the band endorsed Yamaha, the company would give each member a guitar of their choice.

"I don't know," Haworth says. "Maybe there was a language problem there, but I went to the Yamaha store in the Ginza to take a look. There was a beautiful, new Yamaha in a glass case in the center of the showroom. I ended up with that guitar, and it turned out to be what was probably the original prototype for the L-53."

The interesting twist to the story is that on the same tour, someone stole Haworth's 12-string.

"It wasn't a great guitar, but the production company said they'd replace it," Haworth says. "So I said, 'How 'bout we have Yamaha build me a 12-string to match this six-string I just got?' So they took me to the factory, and I met with Terumi Nakamoto, designer of the L-53. His signature is on the label inside my matching 12-string. It turns out it's a one-of-a-kind. It is, in fact, the Bob Haworth model." 

Haworth worked as a professional musician long before his Brothers and Kingston Trio fame. He was born in 1946 in Spokane, Wash., to a musical family — right on down from his great-grandfather. At 9, he moved to Medford with his family. In high school, he and friend John Eads formed a folk-singing duo called The Kinsmen and skipped school regularly to sing for Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Club meetings. 

After graduation, he majored in music at University of California at Los Angeles, then transferred to University of Oregon in 1968. That same year, he dropped out of school to perform solo up and down the West Coast, play in a Portland teen band and work in sessions for a recording studio in Seattle. 

The working title of Haworth's book is "Tales from the Roadside."

"It's spoof on 'The Far Side' cartoons," he says. "There are a lot of stories. One of the highlights of my time with The Kingston Trio was my last performance with them in 2005 at Britt. All of my life is a circle, as Harry Chapin used to say."

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Bob Haworth is shown here with his 12- and six-string Yamaha guitars. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell