Rob Williams grew up in Taunton, Somerset, and first became interested in folk music as a teenager in the early 1960's. He started recording the Hootenanny Show from BBC television on a reel to reel tape recorder, sadly long defunct. He learned several of the songs.
In 1966, he moved to the London area and started going to folk clubs, particularly the Herga in Harrow, Middlesex. A year later he moved to Southampton to pursue a BSc in Electronic Engineering. During his time at Southampton, Rob began singing in the local folk clubs, and started to learn Morris dancing by joining the University side, the Red Stags.
In 1970, Rob returned to NW London and became a regular floor singer at Herga. Shortly after that, he was invited to be a resident singer at the club and started working on expanding his repertoire. Around the same time, the Herga Morris was started, and Rob was voted in as the first Squire of the side. Rob was keen to learn as much about Morris as possible, and joined Hammersmith Morris also. He also got his first melodeon during this period and begun playing for some of the dances.
In 1972, Rob moved to Yorkshire. He joined Leeds Morrismen and became a regular floor singer in local folk clubs. Rob had been impressed by the Gloucester Old Spot Morrismen after seeing them perform at Sidmouth Folk Festival in 1971. He loved the idea of being part of a side which performed only one tradition, and decided to leave Leeds Morrismen and start his own side in Pontefract. He spent time researching the Bucknall tradition and formed the Pomfret Morrismen which became a highly energetic and exciting side, dancing only Bucknall.
In 1975, Rob landed back down South. He joined a folk dance band "Five Prong Pick" and played many gigs with them on melodeon. At the same time he was looking for ideas to start a new dance side. With help from Roy Dommett, and a lot of research, Rob started the Dorset Knobs and Knockers, a mixed side specialising in Stave Dances from the Friendly Societies in South East Somerset and North Dorset. The side was based in Stalbridge, right in the middle of the area where the dances were originally done.
In 1982, Rob's work took him to South Devon. He took up residence in Blackawton near Dartmouth where he regularly sang and played in the local pubs and taught some Morris and Stave dances. With a young family and a house needing a lot of renovation, there wasn't much time to pursue his musical interests.
In 1989, Rob was presented with an opportunity to move to the Chicago area in America where he lived and worked for the next 20 years. During this time, he did a lot of performing with his then wife, Diane Ippel, a hammered dulcimer player, including gigs at Gebhard Woods Dulcimer Festival and Fox Valley Folk Festival and playing for a monthly Old Time Dance. He also backed Lee Murdock as a vocalist on 5 albums.
In 2009, he moved back to the UK, and after spending a year in Aberdeen, is now settled in Somerset with his Australian wife, Jenny. In May 2011, he attended the Quantock Music Festival at Halsway Manor. This was primarily a series of workshops presented by the Hotwells Howlers and the Bristol Shantymen. It was at this event that Rob was first inspired to work on a CD of Jane Gulliford's songs, and he will be releasing the finished project early in 2012.