Buddy Merriam - Mandolin/MC/band leader
"Virtuoso mandolin playing!" ~KET TV
"Virtuoso mandolin playing!" ~KET TV
Born and raised in Mount Sinai New York, multi-instrumentalist Brian Chabza has been fiddling for 24 of his 32 years. As a member of various succesful Long Island based bands, and as a private instructor, Brian has been playing fiddle/violin professionally since 1998, and is super excited to have joined Back Roads in the summer of 2012.
Brian's interest in Bluegrass music began in 1996 after hearing Stuart Duncan for the first time playing fiddle on a Bela Fleck album with Sam Bush. That was all he needed to get himself started on his own journey in Bluegrass. Heavily influenced along the way by Buddy, Bill Monroe, Kenny Baker, Bobby Hicks, Vassar Clements, Buddy Spicher, Mark O'Connor, Darol Anger, and more current fiddlers like Casey Driessen, Gabe Witcher and Nicky Sanders.
Brian brings devotion and enthusiasm to his fiddle playing that is obvious to anyone listening. Brian plays a five string Bob Kogut fiddle and uses DPA, and MI-SI mic and pickup systems. As a new father of twins, Brian doesn't have much free time, but if he gets a chance he likes to flat pick his Martin guitar or Weber mandolin.
We would like to thank him for his devotion and time put forth to bring "The Farm" to life in his recording studio at Sound Beach Music, Miller Place, NY
Born November 17, 1978, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Grew up most of his early years in a Lutheran church where his father was the Minister. His mother was a Registered Nurse. Brought up by his father on big band jazz and his mother on classic country but still loved the harmonies from church. His first experience with bluegrass from memory was seeing a bluegrass band performing at a shopping mall. As the Waylon Jennings lyric goes he "got his first guitar when he was 14."
He learned chords and theory from Ralph Tobias at a small music shop outside of Reading, PA. Eventually he moved to Long Island for college. After taking a few years off of music he started working at a restaurant - Shandon Court in East Islip, NY. Listening to the live bands every night got him interested again in performing. He started playing guitar and singing again and honing his craft.
10 years later Buddy Merriam asked if he would be interested in joining his bluegrass band - playing upright bass - something he had done jamming with some friends a couple times. Jumping at the chance he bought a 1937 blonde Kay upright and fell in love.
He is also an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church and has performed multiple weddings. Studying bluegrass bass and upright bass in general his influences include: Barry Bales, David Spicher, Mike Bubb, Travis Book, Willie Dixon, Larry Taylor, Jack Bruce, Marshall Grant and Tony Palumbo.
He finds performing with Buddy's band inspiring. "The guys in the band are nothing but top-notch musicians and the kindest people." In nothing less than 4 months of being in the band he's already has radio play for a song that he wrote and finds that very humbling. And he's looking forward to nothing but great things for the group. "Thank you Buddy!"
Kathy DeVine has re joined the group on vocals & rhythm guitar for Buddy's 35th year singing some of the bands favorite songs from the past and some great new songs. She has recorded one of Buddy's favorite songs written by Diana Christian, "My Blue Eyes From Heaven" along with Hazel Dickens "My Hearts Own Love" and the popular "In These Hills" -, written by friend Susan Bach and included on the latest "The Farm" CD.
It is fantastic to welcome her back to the Buddy Merriam & Back Roads show for 2015!