Bob McNeill began playing in his teens, gravitating at first to Celtic dance music. Playing bouzouki and open tuned guitar, he made most of his mistakes in other people's lineups before releasing a series of solo albums in the 2000's, 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. A rekindled interest in the guitar took him deeper into the instrument, away from the Celtic rhythm style and open tuning he was known for, and inspired him to record a huge backlog of rediscovered songs, mostly written before Me and Mary Ann but never worked up. 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 on 1 September 2019.
Around the same time, and thinking he might be done with Celtic music, he ran into Cape Breton fiddler Gillian Boucher, who had just moved to New Zealand but neglected to bring an accompanist. The two had played together briefly, 10 years before, and soon found the old groove, playing festivals in New Zealand and Australia. They recently recorded their first album Race for the Sun which will be out on 16 October 2019. Also in October, Gillian and Bob play Nova Scotia's Celtic Colours festival on Cape Breton island, followed by a tour of New England and finally Yachats Celtic Music Festival in Oregon.
Bob plays with the Irish music collective Criu in Wellington, when somebody will hire them. He's also excited about the new band éist with flute player Pat Higgins and multi-instrumentalist Duncan Davidson. They play next at Baobab in Wellington's Newtown in November.