Iraq veteran opens violin shop in St. George

Jul 29, 2022, 10:53 AM

ST. GEORGE, Utah — You can always tell when someone is just good at something.

Listening to Chris Hobson play a violin is one of those times.

“Just say when,” he said with his chin on a violin, bow in his right hand, ready to begin.

After 34 years of practicing and performing, it is easy to see and hear why Hobson is really good. Thursday afternoon, after months of dreaming about it, Hobson officially turned his passion into his business.

A ribbon cutting was held in St. George to welcome his new shop, Violin Gallery, to the community.

It’s no secret he loves violins.

“They just have so much character,” Hobson said. “You think about the violin from the 1600s or 1700s and you just wonder who played it? Who listened to it?”

He has some older violins in his shop. Hobson also fixes them, which is something he genuinely enjoys.

“If I can put this back together like a puzzle and have somebody make some great music out of it again, then that’s more than just a hobby,” he said.

The thing is, putting a violin back together so it works again is almost a metaphor for his life.

“It’s getting better now,” said Hobson. “It’s actually much better than it used to be.”

Back in 2003, Hobson was in the Army and was serving a 15-month deployment in Iraq. That experience sure did a number on him.

“There are bombs over there. I didn’t ever expect to see a mushroom cloud. There are these sounds in the dark,” he said. “Experiencing the fear, and seeing the death, and seeing all these horrible things.”

It left him with crippling anxiety and PTSD to the point where he couldn’t even go grocery shopping when he returned home.

“I would abandon my cart because I couldn’t handle the people,” he said.

However, his music was always there when he needed an escape.

“I can focus on just a violin. On just the music that’s coming out. On just the emotion that’s right here and it comes out of my instrument,” said Hobson. “It could be anger or sadness or joy and bliss.”

He received a lot of mental therapy through the years. It also helped that his wife, Jackie, who was also in the Army (they met on the plane to Iraq, which is a whole other story) has been with him for every step and every note of the way.

She’s now his business partner at Violin Gallery and sure is proud of his progress.

“It was just kind of helping him realize his potential and that he was there, and he had value,” Jackie Hobson said. “And, hey, we can do this, and you have so much to give, right?”

It’s part of why they opened this shop. To not only help him, but to help others find their peace.

“I’m trying to help other people experience that same thing and learn to cope through music and just hard work and just know it’s possible to come back from something like that,” he said.

For as good as his music is, Hobson says his life, finally, is even better.

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Iraq veteran opens violin shop in St. George