Bob began singing folk songs in 1963. During the early 1970s he owned The Heritage, the folk-music club in San Diego, California where singer-songwriter Tom Waits began his career. Bob later toured with Waits for two national tours. In 1972 Bob won the professional old-time banjo category at the legendary Topanga Banjo & Fiddle Contest, and during 1973-7 he performed regularly with his True & Trembling String Band. He studied ethnomusicology with Bess Lomax Hawes, daughter of the famous folksong scholar John Lomax, and later served as a director of the Vancouver (Canada) Folk Song Society.
He still performs old-time banjo and guitar music, but is also celebrated for his renditions of shipboard work songs, known as "shanties," and off-watch sailors' favorites known as "forebitters." He has been dubbed "King of the Shanty" as a result of personal appearances across Europe and the United Kingdom.
He has shared the stage with Doc Watson, Elizabeth Cotten, Mike Seeger, Gordon Bok, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, and Mamadou DiabatÃ©. He learned some of his guitar technique from, and occasionally accompanied Mississippi bluesman Sam Chatmon (1897-1983). Much of his maritime artistry came directly from Stan Hugill (1906-92), the last sailor from the age of merchant sail to publicly present the shanties he used to coordinate labor at sea.
Bob's newest release is "Cluck Old Hen," a CD album of Southern Appalachian old-timey string band music with fiddler Craig Edwards and guitarist/vocalist Helen Richmond Webb. He has written several books, including "Ring The Banjar!: The Banjo in America from Folklore to Factory" (Centerstream Press, 1996), and "On the Northwest: Commercial Whaling in the Pacific Northwest 1790-1967" (University of British Columbia Press, 1988). His latest book, "Sailor-Painter: The Uncommon Life of Charles Robert Patterson" will be released in Fall 2004 by Flat Hammock Press LLC.
Check out the artist's website:
1. The Lucy Foster
2. Oda G.
3. Ilo Man
4. Towrope Gals
5. Women's the Joy and the Pride of the Land
6. Believe Me, Dearest Susan
7. Napoleon's Farewell to Paris
8. Bonaparte's Retreat
9. The Schooner
10. I'm Alone
11. Handsome Molly
12. Dance Gals, Gimme the Banjo
13. Alabama John Cherokee
14. Bank Trollers
15. Protect the Innocent/Tilden
16. Cape Town Bound
17. 150 Days Out from Vancouver