Bob Bruen

Bob Bruen is a  mandolinist, composer and singer. He has been playing  and teaching mandolin since 1970 after hearing David Grisman on a Grateful Dead record.  Since taking up the mandolin he has performed professionally in the Bay Area in his own bands and with many musicians including mandolin legends Rudy Cipolla, David Grisman and legendary fiddler Vassar Clemens.

In 1975 He was fortunate to have his first composition included on The David Grisman Rounder Album. In 2002 he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since 2004 he has recorded four CD’s under the name “Walking Rain” with his long time friend and fellow picker Coale Johnson. He currently lives and teaches in Eldorado and can be seen mucking about in local venues with a local cast of musical characters.

Coale Johnson

Coale Johnson: American singer, songwriter and guitarist, was 14 when his musical journey started… He “borrowed” his sister’s guitar and she never really got it back!

Coale started his formal studies in Chicago and then went on to Berklee School of Music in Boston. It didn’t take long to realize that academia was really no place for a free spirited guitar player! “What? You’re not going to teach me to play like Albert King or Merle Travis?”… and so began a life of playing in bands and following the music and musicians that caught his ear and captured his soul.

The music Coale now plays shows all of his influences. He covers artists from Muddy Waters to Gordon Lightfoot, from the Beatles to Merle Haggard, from Frank Sinatra to Emmy Lou Harris & Billy Holiday. Coale’s extensive original songs can best be described as folk/rock/jazz with a subtle twang.

Visit Coale’s Website

Rudy Cipolla Archives

It was in the Fall of 1971 that I was introduced to the world of Rudy Cipolla. At the time I was seeking a mandolin teacher and Rudy’s name was given to me by the man from whom I bought my first mandolin. I called, made an appointment, and soon found myself walking into the “Book Nook” in San Francisco, where Rudy hung out. Immediately I was plunged into a maelstrom of candy, comics, and cigarettes, at the center of which stood the maestro himself.

The whole place looked as though it had fallen out of an airplane with Rudy as the sole survivor. Short, bald, weak of sight and ear, he painted a picture quite opposite from that which I had expected. However, after an evening of his music I was totally won over and came greatly admire this unique musician and protagonist of the mandolin.

It is interesting to note that he spent his professional career as a mando-cello was not until a few years after he stopped performing that he began to play and compose with the mandolin as his chief focus.

Rudy’s compositions span a large number of contexts, from trios and small ensemble pieces, to chamber works and even orchestral pieces. Most of the music was performed in a fairly loose context and with the exception of some music that was used for the movie “Capone,” and two CD’s produced by David Grisman.

All of Rudy’s music is deeply emotive and reflective of his great love of life. Indeed, after an evening of his music one feels an incredible warmth and serenity that can only come from the kind of life experience Rudy had and his conviction about the music as a personal expression.

Rudy passed away in January of 2000, just 7 months from his 100th birthday. It was his wish for his music to be shared with the world.

—Bob Bruen

Mandolin World Magazine Summer 1976
Updated Spring 2010


Ricordante: Study for the Mandolin
Petite Danse for Solo Mandolin
Romance Antique for Solo Mandolin
Parade of the Green Frogs for Two Mandolins and Guitar (1 of 5)
Parade of the Green Frogs for Two Mandolins and Guitar (2 of 5)
Parade of the Green Frogs for Two Mandolins and Guitar (3 of 5)
Parade of the Green Frogs for Two Mandolins and Guitar (4 of 5)
Parade of the Green Frogs for Two Mandolins and Guitar (5 of 5)

Thanks to Sheri Mignano Crawford (Author of Mandolins, Like Salami: A History & Personal Memoir) for the transcriptions of Rudy’s music on this site.


La Civetta
Rudy’s Theme
Study For Two Mandolins