Some years ago in Dunedin, Bob set about making mistakes in other people's bands before moving to Wellington in 2005. Along the way he released a series of solo albums, two of which won Best Folk Album at the New Zealand Awards. His three year collaboration with Kenny Ritch, Ben the Hoose, resulted in the album The Little Cascade, which also won Best Folk Album.
In 2010 he released the retrospective Me and Mary Ann, and moved on to non-music projects, like doing up an old house, investigating why people ride bicycles and having a stab at writing the great Kiwi novel. People thought he'd died.
Bob came back to music in 2016 when, having played the guitar for 10 years, he decided to learn how to play the guitar. That is, instead of just pretending it was a bouzouki (note: overgrown mandolin). His guitar heroes are an eclectic mix of songwriters and people who just "get" the songs and just seem to know what needs doing... people like Jennifer Turner, Nik Kershaw, Robert Cray, Chris Rea, John Putnam, John Mayer, Ben Woods and Mark Knopfler.
His songwriting heroes are an even more eclectic mix: all the guys above, Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, Lionel Richie, Patty Griffin, Jeffrey Foucault, Bruce Springsteen, Gretchen Peters, Richard Shindell, Jay Farrar, Emmylou Harris, Lori McKenna, Mike Rosenberg, Neil Finn, Mark Nevin and the late, great Bap Kennedy to name but a few. McNeill's songs visit people who've seen things, up close. They sway on the horizon, sometime after the moment of decision, like the shellshocked divorcee escaping a fire in Jesusita, the washed-up musician playing bars in the Valley in San Fernando, or the disillusioned immigrant crossing back over in Where you can't see the border.
Re-armed with a 1965 Suzuki nylon, a decent electric and the A minor pentatonic, Bob started Project Feijoa when he finally persuaded Emily Roughton to help him make an album of the Spanish-tinged songs he'd started writing while in California in 2009. He knew he was going to need someone in a dress for this kind of work, and on the fiddle, well, she bangs it out. He met Rob Henderson, well kempt but playing in a ceilidh band, and offered him a meal and a way out, provided he was prepared to play Spanish American Kiwi folk rock n'roll. It turned out he'd have done anything.
So, Project Feijoa was born. Their debut album The California Tapes was released in September 2019.
Bob also plays with Canadian fiddle player Gillian Boucher; their collaboration is a resuscitated version of the duo they briefly formed 12 years ago. That didn't last long, but the stent is in now. In October and November 2019, they played Nova Scotia's Celtic Colours Festival, followed by a tour of New England. On the way back to NZ, they played the completely wonderful Yachats Celtic Festival on the Oregon coast.
Bob also plays with the Wellington based Celtic collective Criu, when somebody will hire them, and the new Irish group éist.
For more information about Bob, visit www.bobmcneill.net