One man’s journey through music

From a teenage tour around Europe playing classical violin, from pub gigs to corporate events on festival stages across Australia, Paul “Rabbit” Robinson talks to Hannah-Lee Smith about his musical journey.

 

“A committed artist should be prepared to swim in a river of their own blood to get to a show on time, the show must go on…”

 

Born in the heart of the Tweed Shire at Murwillumbah Hospital on the 24th of May 1963, it was the start of a wonderful adventure for this little baby boy. Yet, sometimes we ask ourselves, if it were ever possible to know what kind of life we were going to have and would we change it for anything?

For Paul Robinson who most people know as Rabbit, he is a talented and very entertaining band member who plays the violin in The Round Mountain Girls, northern New South Wales.

One man’s journey through music means what it says. Paul “Rabbit” Robinson lets in on his life exhibition and takes us with him on his journey.

You toured most of Europe when you were 16 in the Queensland Youth Orchestra. Where were some of the most interesting places you have played at that given time?

I started with classical music playing in the Gold Coast Youth Orchestra, then moving up to the Queensland Youth Orchestra and Ensemble conductor in the 80’s, playing in England, Scotland, Germany, and Italy. I had also performed at the International Youth Orchestra Festival in Aberdeen Scotland, doing concerts with Rolf Harris. Rolf was always nothing but a gentleman.

What were some of your earliest memories playing in front of a large audience?

Playing with the 90 strong Queensland Youth Orchestra in the town hall in Brisbane with a 100 member choir and the town pipe organ. Huge sound, and huge memories at the age of 16 years.

What styles of music have you explored?

I love all styles of music. After graduating high school I played in my first Bluegrass band and also played classical music.

What are your influences/inspirations?

I get inspired making video and promoting via social media. I enjoyed playing on stage at the “Scotts in the bush” Celtic festival in Boondooma QLD this month with my idol Stuart Watson from the Bullamanka band. I watched him perform at Pacific Fair when I was in school and there was a moment, I was in the audience and I thought to myself “I want to do that”. Playing with the bands and being on stage has been on my mind since…

I heard that you had once played a role in a Warner Brothers Movie? Tell me a little about that, it sounds quite interesting.

I got to be an extra in a Warner Bros movie called “Ghost Ship”. I played the violin in the pivotal scene of the movie right behind the leading lady. You do need a pause button to see me for long enough to point me out, but I am on the back cover of the DVD case… It was my best paid work of just a few days for the minimum amount of effort, but I did have to get a short haircut to look like we were for the 1930’s. I love the movies…

So what other organisations have you worked for during your career?

Organisations I have worked with in my career would have to start with the Australian Arts Association (AAA) which I am the founder and president of, though since starting a large family 10 years ago the association has taken a back burner due to my family commitments. I also worked at Entertainment Lighting & Sound on the Gold Coast doing corporate sound and lights at places like Movie World, Dream World, Sea World, Jupiter’s Casino, the Star Casino Melbourne, doing installs, tours, corporate events, and much more…

What are some of the memorable festivals, charity events and shows that you’ve been involved with during your career?

My most memorable festivals & shows are often the even where something goes wrong. It’s the unexpected moments that one ponders after the event. like one night in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney at a Bumpkin Bros Show, legend Ian Moss from Cold Chisel was playing at the local pub and 200 people were there, but on the same night at the RSL there was the Cold Chisel concept show playing in front of 2000 people. i figured don’t fight the system, just go where the work is… and every time the Round Mountain Girls played at Blues fest in Byron Bay NSW it’s been such a major event.

You now perform as part of the Round Mountain Girls-what is the band’s style of music?

The Round Mountain Girls are described as a rock band with bluegrass instruments.. Playing music from any genre including classical, pop, rock, bluegrass, and country.

How did you all meet?

The Round Mountain Girls all live local to each other. Chris Banjovi meeting Chris Brooker’s mandolin in a toilet block and he called out to see who owned it… Chris Willoughby was a friend of Brooker’s… Banjovi contacted the local music shop to see if their violin teacher had any students interested in joining a bluegrass band in Cabarita, to which Rabbit couldn’t say no to… Rex Carter was known by the boys and became the drummer after Bill Bilson ex-drummer from the Sunny Boys left the act… The band also had a 6th member for a while Brad Hailes, but his work commitments took him away from the band.

What music awards have you and the Round Mountain Girls won over the years?

The Round Mountain Girls and I have won 4 Golden Fiddle Awards from the Tamworth country music festival and 3 Dolphin Music Awards. Playing and winning Golden Fiddle Awards in Tamworth has been an honour and a privilege to be invited to play.

Do you have a project you guys are working on at the moment?

The Round Mountain Girls are working on a new album to go with the existing three original albums and one covers CD.

From all the albums released by RMG, what would be your favourite and why?

My favourite Round Mountain Girls album is “One Step Closer”. The epic song and the recording process in Byron Bay Studio 301 was very consuming. There is a lot of the band in that album.

What are some of the acts other than the Round Mountain Girls have you worked with?

The Round Mountain Girls have been blessed to play the same stages as The Pogues, The Bushwackers, and Jason Mraz. I moved into concert production, working with loads of different acts from Tommy Teako’s Orchestra to Marsha Hines, and Julie Anthony. Playing the violin, I also performed with Digger Revell, Lee Conway, and many more. Some of the more memorable bands I have worked with or for are The Sweets’, The Elton Jack Show, The Rocklobsters, The B52 Concept Show and the Swinging Sixties Concept Show.

What are the Top five tunes on your iPod?

My top 5 iPod tracks would be from 70’s disco and 80’s pop… My favourite Australian band is “Noise Works”, my favourite world band are the “Bee Gees”. There is a lot of music out there, I don’t think I could cut it down to 5 songs.

If money weren’t an object, what would you be doing with it?

If I didn’t need money and I could do anything I wouldn’t change a thing because I have always made choices for love and not career. And if money wasn’t an object, I would give more to charities and build a music school.

Best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I’ve been given is to do music and the arts for the love of it. If you love it, you’ll be good at it, and if you’re good at your art the money will just be a measure of your success. As soon as you need to do two shows a week to pay the rent and eat, it takes the love away from the process. Enjoy the ride, don’t worry, and be happy.

Is there any advice you could give to people pursuing a career in the music industry?

I would advise anyone wanting to pursue a career in the music industry to have a trade to fall back on and to diversify so that you have a knowledge about all the trades you’ll be involved with and learn to play as many instruments as you can so you with be able to work easier with other bands.



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