About

Rob grew up in Perth, Western Australia and started playing the fiddle by ear when he was eight years old. His neighbor Eddie Lowe taught him his first tunes and took him to Toodyay Folk Festival when he was ten. It was here he met Sean Doherty from County Mayo who took him under his wing and introduced him to the Irish community in Perth. Every Friday there were informal lessons and nearly every weekend there were sessions or dances where Rob sat in with the Ceilidh band and absorbed as much as he could. All the while Sean was keen for Rob to meet Mick Doherty. Mick wasn't playing at the time and it took Sean a couple of years to introduce the two at a session in his house. Rob and Mick clicked straight away and formed a great friendship that lasted over twenty five years. Mick was an enormous inspiration to Rob and being out in Rockingham for fifty years was like a time capsule of the regional Donegal style and in particular the style of the Doherty family. Mick came from a long line of travelling fiddle players, storytellers and tinsmiths. His uncle was the well known fiddle player Johnny Doherty.

 

Sean was also responsible for introducing Rob to the music of Paddy Canny and PJ Hayes, Michael Coleman, Hughie Gillespie to name a few. 

At seventeen Sean Doherty encouraged Rob to visit Ireland where he subsequently spent the following fourteen years on the West Coast, immersing himself in the music of the older generation. A chance encounter at seventeen led him to live and work in Feakle where he met musicians such as Joe Bane, P.J and Martin Hayes, Paddy Canny, Martin Rochford and Francie Donnolly. He also was very interested in the West Clare fiddlers Junior Creehan, Bobby Casey and Joe Ryan. The music of Paddy Fahey was high on the list as was the Sligo style and the music of Andy Davey. Andy, master of the Sligo style, became his mentor for the following ten years. Rob thinks Andrew Davey was the most musical man he'd ever met. Every time he played a tune he played it differently with each rendition being a perfect composition. 

When injury prevented him from playing in his early thirties, he returned to Australia and spent many years recovering and rethinking his approach. With the help of his first mentor Mick, he rebuilt his playing. The old principles of the floating bow now made more sense and could be reapplied to all disciplines. Rob now draws no distinction between making violins, playing, teaching and composing.

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In 2000 Rob won Ireland's Michael Coleman Traditional Fiddle Player of the Year Award. He also taught music for three years at the Galway School of Traditional Irish Music and has continued to teach ever since. In 2012, with the support of The Nation Library of Australia, Rob and Mick Doherty released Out West, a collection of old and rare versions of tunes from Mick's family including many settings from Mick's father Hughie Doherty and Mick's grandfather Mickey Mor. 

Besides playing Traditional Irish Music, Rob is working on his own compositions, with the aim to record them on the violin he made for himself.