Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Imaginative flatpicking and an expertise in the musical traditions of Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany are combined through the virtuosic playing of Washington, D.C. multi-instrumentalist Robin Bullock. Balancing a solo career with work with the John Whelan Band, three trios - Helicon, Greenfire, and Travellers -- and a percussive dance ensemble, Footworks, Bullock has shown a mastery of a lengthy list of stringed instruments. The Baltimore City Paper referred to him as "one of those guys who can play just about anything with strings disgustingly well," while, Classical Guitar Magazine called him, "a musician whose technical skill and stylistic expertise are second to none."
Inspired by the playing of Doc and Merle Watson, Bullock began playing guitar at the age of seven. Although he studied piano and learned basic music theory and harmony, his limited sight-reading skills led him to focus on stringed instruments. While he played with bluegrass bands after graduating from high school, he became frustrated by his lack of commercial success and temporarily left music to become a veterinarian assistant. A turning point in Bullock's musical career came in 1986 when he met wooden flute player Chris Norman and hammer dulcimer player Ken Kolodner at the Deer Creek Fiddler's Convention in Westminster, MD. Norman and Kolodner, who had released a Celtic-influenced duo album, Daybreak, were so impressed by Bullock's playing and enthusiasm that they agreed to continue as a trio, Helicon.
On his debut solo album, Green Fields, released in 1993, Bullock explored the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland, playing all instruments on the album by himself. The album led to Bullock receiving a major solo artist grant from the Maryland State Arts Council. His second solo outing, Midnight Howl, released in 1996, was nominated for a Grammy award as "Best Traditional Folk Album of the Year" and resulted in his receiving a Washington Area Music award (WAMMIE) as "Folk/Traditional Instrumentalist of the Year." His third solo album, Between Earth and Sky, released in 1998, featured such guests as All Ireland champions Joanie Madden and John Whelan, dobro player Mike Auldridge, Bruce Hornsby's reedsman Bobby Read, and West African percussionist Laryea Addy. The album earned Bullock his second WAMMIE award as "Folk/Traditional Recording of the Year." A faculty member of the Swannanoah Gathering at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC and Common Ground at Western Maryland College in Westminster, MD, Bullock writes a column, "Celtic and More" for Acoustic Guitar magazine. His musical career, however will not take a back seat. The new millennium saw the release of Lightning Field in early 2001.