If you're planning on spending time in Deep Ellum this week, keep an eye out for the return of one of the neighborhood's most familiar and beloved musical residents. Bob Crawford – better known by residents as "Keyboard Bob" or "Deep Ellum Bob" – is out of the hospital following a recent surgery because of a kidney infection and says he'll return to his old stomping ground this weekend.
"I'm better," Crawford says. "I'm a lot better than I had been all weekend."
Crawford, 65, spent two weeks in Walnut Hill Medical Center after calling an ambulance when he said he started feeling sick "for the first time I've ever been sick in 25 years."
His doctor found he had a temperature of 102.5 degrees, kept him in the hospital for observation and discovered a serious infection in one of his kidneys. When Crawford started to have trouble breathing, doctors performed emergency surgery on his lungs and kidney.
The surgery was a success but left Crawford facing a steep hospital bill. The Deep Ellum community rallied to help its favorite street keyboard player. A GoFundMe campaign raised more than $1,000 to cover his medical costs.
Crawford says he also had a steady stream of visitors to help keep his spirits high while he recovered from the surgery.
"I saw friends from way back," Crawford says. "It was like I didn't know I know what was going. I was like, 'Am I still under the anesthetic?'"
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Crawford seems eager to get back to Deep Ellum even though he just got out of the hospital. He wore his Sunday best for his first day back at work.
The neighborhood welcomed him back after hearing about his ill health. He received a warm welcome at the Cafe Brazil in Deep Ellum, where waitress Courtney Ledesma greeted him with a big hug. Gretch Luedtke spotted him waving at her outside his apartment complex and gave him a ride.
Crawford says he feels very grateful for all the help he received during the surgery and that he can't wait to get back to playing for Deep Ellum's visitors soon.
"Just tell them that I appreciate their help and thank you for your generosity," Crawford says.