Friday, September 24, 2010

Free Bob (A Plea for Help)

I've met some pretty amazing people in my day.

Bob Rice is one of them.

He is one of the most driven, incredible and non-selfish people I have ever met. In fact, this particular post has proven to be very hard for me to write, because Bob is in the need of some assistance, and I want to be sure that I do my part to aid him in receiving it... It seems to be the least I can do. I do not want this post to be written in vain.

He is sitting in a jail cell in Madison County Iowa... a place that he has no business being. He virtually committed no crime, yet he is being held on bail, and there are legal fees pending. Bob is in a bad place and he needs us.

His story is simple. It is the American dream in action.

He has always dreamed of buying a nice chunk of land and building himself a house. Bob is a big music lover and has been a visible friend of the local music scene for a very long time. He has also spent quite a few years touring around the country following the acts he loves, such as the Grateful Dead. In fact, it was after Jerry Garcia died in 1995 that he took his dream to a new level... He envisioned building a place where kind people who shared his passion for music could gather and listen to the grooves. Bob put his plan into action.

Bob's dream

Bob and I go way back, to the mid '80s when we competed against each other in high school track. Both of us ran the third leg of the 4x800 meters for our respective schools, and we spent alot of time looking at each others' backs.

We met again through an ironic twist of fate in our early 20's through a mutual friend. We became close and have remained that way throughout most of our adult lives, even in the years of solitude. Bob once built me a drum out of wood and deer skin. When the skin came loose, I didn't know what to do with it, so I gave it back to Bob. He told me that he would fix it and let me know when it was finished. We were both meandering souls at the time, and I didn't see Bob for almost a year and a half. After our initial greeting had worn down, Bob went over to his van and retrieved the drum, which was repaired like new. He had held it for me for 18 months.

The van I am speaking of was an old Volkswagen that had one of those pop-up ceilings. It was a hippie machine for sure, with a few smiling faces and Grateful Dead stickers on the back. But Bob kept it in great shape. It wasn't just a vehicle to Bob... The one he drove when he toured the country... But it was also his home. He did all of the maintenance himself, making sure that the tires weren't worn and that the oil was changed on time. It ran perfectly, despite it being over 20 years old.

The fall after Jerry died, he spent most of his time in Des Moines. He would park his van on Cottage Grove up in the area of Drake University. He knew a family who lived there, and knowing Bob's personality, they welcomed him into their home as it was his own. But most of the time Bob chose to stay in his van... It was enough for him. The heater worked good on the colder nights, and it was perfect for a simple and practical man. He got jobs where he could, and sold hand-made crafts. It was there on Cottage Grove one night that he first told me of his dream.

"I'm going to save my money and buy some land." he told me. "I'm going to build a house on it, and eventually form it into a kind of outdoor amplitheater."

I had absolutely no reason not to believe him. First of all, when Bob looks you in the eye and tells you something, he means it. Secondly, since I had known Bob, he has always followed up on everything that he said he would do. Fixing my drum and holding it for me is the perfect example of this. Not only is Bob a man of character, but he is, and has always been a man of his word.

Well, like usual, my meandering soul took me to places other than Des Moines, and for several years I didn't see Bob at all. Many years had passed but I began to hear about this amazing place "out in the woods" that was a great venue to see live music. It was called the "Briar Patch". Not really being in the Des Moines area, I didn't give it much thought, but over time after hearing about this place I started to think about Bob, and wondered if it were indeed the amplitheater that he had talked about building during the conversation we had in 1996.

Finally, just this last winter I ran into Bob at a local rock show. I hadn't seen him for over ten years, and it was absolutely wonderful to see him. He told me about his life during the past 12 years or so, and that he had this amazing and wonderful daughter now... And that he did indeed purchase some land with the money he saved while living in his VW bus, and that things were going really good for him.

"Is your place the Briar Patch, Bob?" I asked him. "I have been hearing about it for a long time."

He confirmed that indeed it was, and when he talked of it you could see the glimmer in his eye... He was so proud of what he had accomplished, just as he was proud to tell stories about his daughter.

"You should see it," he said to me. "It's paradise... It really is. Plus, I have a tractor!" Then he let out that unmistakable Bob Rice laugh that always got everybody around him laughing too, whether they knew what was funny or not.

That's Bob for you. His mere presence would light up a room. But when he let out that laugh, watch out. It could bring the dead back to life.

One Fast Move on the stage at The Briar Patch

On August 7th Bob celebrated his 10th year as the proprietor of the Briar Patch. It was a grand event, with only the biggest local bands on the roster: Mooseknucle, Mr. Baber's Neighbors: The Solar String Band, Floodplane, Truth B Told and Thankful Dirt as the headliner. Although I was invited, I wasn't able to attend. I had a prior engagement with my own daughter that weekend, and she and I spent some quality time together on the shores of Lake Red Rock. (Ironically, the previous Wednesday I had taken her to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, and we ran into Bob and his daughter, and also Bob's mother. It was there he asked if I was going to make it to the 10 year anniversary.) I wasn't so upset about missing it because I was able to spend time with my little girl, and I had already been there a couple of times for different shows. I figured I would catch one of the summer's later events... It would make for a nice transition into Autumn.

It never occurred to me that I wouldn't get that chance.

Apparently a couple of self serving knuckle draggers sold some dope to some informants who were sent undercover from the local drug task force. Deeming Bob responsible, they swarmed in the next morning and raided his quiet little cabin in the woods. He figured he had nothing to fear, he didn't have any drugs on him, and he certainly wasn't responsible for the bad choices of others...

Boy, he was wrong.

Inside a purse of a female overnight guest, the police found a small amount of marijuana. She didn't claim responsibility for it, and to the cops that was enough evidence to take Bob to jail. The bail was set ridiculously high, in an obvious attempt by the Madison County authorities to keep Bob held without a chance of release. He was given a drug test, which he passed. He had no trace of any illegal substances in his body, and yet the prosecutor is determined to make Bob the example that Madison County is tough on drugs. To this day Bob is sitting in jail.

Dead Man Flats

Chris Hearn, a mutual friend of mine and Bob's has been doing an incredible job of bringing awareness to Bob's plight. He and several others held a benefit concert to raise money for Bob to pay his bail and get him out of jail. Not to mention the insurmountable costs of legal fees. Chris and his friends have raised almost two thirds of the money needed to get Bob freed.

A letter, formed by Chris, was sent out to friends on Facebook. With a sense of humor (which Bob would appreciate) it goes on to explain the situation that Bob is in, and provides an address to which anybody willing to, could send a few bucks.

Kyle Munson of the Des Moines Register took an interest to the story and wrote this article, which was published on Saturday, September 11. While the article takes a neutral stance on the subject, it does leave out the fact that Bob had pissed clean after his arrest, that the pot was found in the purse of an overnight guest, and that Bob handed out fliers to everybody who attended his shows stating that drugs would not be tolerated. It also doesn't mention that the money seized was money collected at the door, and out of that money Bob was to pay his staff and the bands. (Anything left over went to cover maintenance costs on his 28 acre farm.) Nonetheless, it is a good article and it does attempt to shed some light on the injustice that is being done to Bob.

Here is the letter Chris Hearn sent out on Facebook:

Bob says thank you to all from his comfortable one-room Hilton at the Madison County Jail. We raised a nice chunk of change to cover some of the legal fees for Bob. We are about 2/3 's of the way there. I know a lot of you did not have a chance to come to the benefit, but there is another way to help.

Bob has been a lover and promoter of music and freedom for the last 10 years. He is being held in jail on trumped up charges. We must draw our line in the sand. This could be any one of us in jail, being treated in an unjust and unconstitutional way. Many of you know Bob personally, some in passing, and some not at all. Like Bob, we all know that the laws of this land are not fair and border on enslavement.

I have been talking to Bobs mom, and she thanks all of you for the effort and support. His depositions were today. The pre-trial is tomorrow. The court date will be on the 19th of October (next month.)

There are two ways that you can still help our Brother in Need!!!! The first is by sending letters of support with good things to say about our friend in freedom. These letters if written well and are not incriminating, can be used as affidavits to be entered into evidence in Bobs court case. If anything, write to tell Bob that you care and love him, he will appreciate it.

The next way is to actually donate money. There is strength in solidarity!!! If just a handful of you sent a check for $10, we could really help fight for Bobs freedom. As you know he has recently been unemployed for the last 2 months and will be until he gets out of jail. Chances are he will never have another Briar Patch ever again. Firstly, they put him in jail and secondly, "THEY TOOK HIS JOB!" (Southpark) I'm sorry I had to throw that in.

If you would like to help, please send a signed or unsigned (if you are not comfortable) Letter/ Affidavit and or a check for any amount to the following. Make checks payable to Bob Rice. Money orders are legitimate means as well. All letters will go to Bobs mom and be placed in Bobs legal defense fund trust account.


Bob Rice
PO BOX 549
Des Moines, IA 50302


We must take a stand, we must fight for our freedoms, if we all unite, we can make a difference. The choice is up to us. Thank you for reading and thank you for listening....LETS DO THIS!!!


Chris Hearn
Bobs Mom, Jackie

I don't think I have ever used this blog as a forum or a soap box to solicit money from anybody. I am hoping though, at this time you will realize the magnitude of what is happening here and shell out a few bucks, or whatever you can and send it to the address posted above... Even a letter of encouragement, as Chris suggested.

Also, I believe Chris might have a few t-shirts that he had printed up that on the front is the Briar Patch logo and on the back it says FREE BOB!. They are $10.00 a piece, with all proceeds going directly to Bob's fund. If you are interested in one of these let me know. My email is up on the right side of the page, or find me on Facebook. Or, just leave a coment in the comment box, and I'll get ahold of you.

If you have a Facebook account, please share this on your profile page, or send it to your friends. Bob Rice is an incredible human being who is suffering under the thumb of tyranny. There are not too many people whom I consider truly and honestly amazing.

Bob Rice is one of them.


KevinB said...

So what has happened in Bob's case? I went to Iowa with him and he is still very tight with my ex-roomate and best friend. I live in another state and was shocked to hear what THEY are doing to Bob.

Anonymous said...

sooo whats the update with bob said...

sooo? how much was the bail? and is he out yet?

T.Church said...

Sorry Guys. I JUST saw this. Yes Bob is out. He is doing well, still maintaining the acreage in Bevington. He is working and spending time with his daughter. As of right now, he has no plans for shows at the Briar Patch. said... glad to know his out...herd theres a rumor going round that theres another patch aug 24th and 25th 2012...heard that the bands are posting dates on face book and yahoo.
people are getting excited but seems to me that its a rumor cause bob hasent updated any of his pages since 2010...

like i said rumor around friends from the patch is that it will go on...can you confirm?