Bob McNeill is a musician in Wellington, New Zealand who plays with Project Feijoa and the Celtic groups triske, Criu and Crossroads. His latest recording Lost Stars, a collection of songs written and recorded during lockdown in New Zealand, was released in late 2020. Remastered in 2022, and now including the single "Itasca", it's available on Bandcamp. Check out the music page.
Inspired by the classic songwriters and the New Folk wave from the 90s, his particular influences are people like Natalie Merchant, Tori Amos, Mark Knopfler, Gretchen Peters, Robert Cray, Lori McKenna, Patty Griffin, Jimmy Webb, Chris Rea, Jason Isbell, Lionel Richie, Jeffrey Foucault, Shane Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Richard Shindell, Jay Farrar, Emmylou Harris, Nik Kershaw, Neil Finn, Mark Nevin and Bap Kennedy in... no particular order.
McNeill began playing in his teens. He made most of his mistakes in other people's bands before releasing a series of solo albums in the 2000s, two of which won Best Folk Album at the New Zealand Music Awards. His three year collaboration with Orcadian fiddler 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. People thought he'd died.
After an extended sabbatical he returned to music in 2016 and began to record a backlog of rediscovered songs, mostly written before Me and Mary Ann but never worked up. Most of the songs were written during extended stays in California and were influenced by the Spanish-tinged American music he fell in love with in Santa Barbara. He recruited the prodigiously talented Emily Roughton and Rob Henderson for the recordings. The group turned into Project Feijoa, and the recording into their debut album The California Tapes, which was released in September 2019.
While touring North America with old friend and fiddle player Gillian Boucher in 2019, Bob began writing the songs that became Lost Stars. They took an unforgettable journey around New England in the fall, before finishing the tour on the Oregon coast. At night, he played among legends, drank bourbon, looked out at whichever ocean was handy, and scribbled away. Boarding the plane home in LA, he had ten songs finished, sorta kinda. When New Zealand went into lockdown in March 2020, there was space to finish them. Lost Stars became an album of love songs for places and people we might not see again for a while. Working alone in a makeshift studio, he decided to release the album track by track, as the songs were finished.
In 2022, Bob revisited Lost Stars, re-recording two of the songs, adding the single Itasca, and re-mixing and mastering the album.