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Bobby Ray Bunch

Bobby Ray Bunch, a Quad-City based comedian/musician, performed a rendition of "Wonderwall" on Wednesday at Cru in downtown Davenport. 

If you’re a guy who owns a guitar, there’s at least one song you should learn, master and store in your arsenal, according to a popular — and proud — ginger-haired entertainer in the Quad-Cities.

“Then, you start playing this song and everyone loves you,” Bobby Ray Bunch shouted Wednesday night before performing his rendition of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” at Cru in downtown Davenport.

Bunch’s cover of the British band’s hit followed about a dozen of his go-to jams, including “Pumped up Kicks,” “All Along the Watchtower,” and “Otherside,” in the first hour of his three-hour-long set.

But the 31-year-old contends his true love is stand-up comedy, which he formerly treated as a full-time gig and now incorporates into his weekly concerts.

"There are a lot of acoustic cover musicians in the Quad-Cities, and I want to set myself apart a little bit," he said. "Crowds want to feel like they're part of the show, so when people book me to play, I love joking around with them to build a rapport with them."

Just a few minutes into his set on Wednesday, for example, Bunch announced the "party can start" when his relatives walked into the bar. 

"We're about to turn up on a Wednesday," he continued to quip. 

And the business owners who book him appreciate the unique style Bunch brings to their venues.

"He knows how to play to a crowd and keep customers involved," Jacob Moylan, who owns Cru, said. "He actually was the first musician to play here, so he's been a huge asset for us."

During the day, Bunch sells IT support and dental technology for Medix Dental, a business based at 300 Brady St. above Analog Arcade Bar in downtown Davenport.

On top of his day job, the Pleasant Valley High School grad sings and strums his guitar for audiences one or two nights a week and slings jokes at a couple comedy shows every month. 

After graduating from the University of Iowa, which followed almost six years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Bunch hit the road as a touring comedian for a year. 

"Clubs, casinos, bars — you name it, I did stand-up there," he said. "But I like money, so I stopped doing it full-time." 

The aspiring artist also recalled the one wretched four-hour set he played at an area casino in front of an empty room. 

Jordan Burrough, who used to perform with Bunch and attended his Wednesday night show at Cru, laughed when she thought about the first time she found him.

"We met on Craigslist," she said. "He was looking for a female vocalist, and I was looking for someone to play music with. He's really good at what he does."

As for his persona-defying red hair, that's just something he flaunts on his Instagram profile, in addition to his ability to speak Spanish.  

While Bunch, who also emcees corporate and charity events, thinks he sometimes "overbooks" himself, he still dreams of entertaining for a living someday. 

"I don't think I'm ever satisfied," he said. "I'll always try and get to the next level."

Editor's note: Look for reporter Jack Cullen's Notes @ Noon Tuesday through Friday online at noon. He will capture various sides of life in the Quad-Cities. Contact him at jcullen@qctimes.com or 563-383-2363.

 

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Jack Cullen covers health, wellness and outdoor recreation for the Quad-City Times.