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Buddy Merriam: Bio

Buddy Merriam - Mandolin/MC/band leader

"Virtuoso mandolin playing!"   ~KET TVBud_re_sized_2015_2.jpg

Born 10/7/52 in Hartford, Connecticut, he formed Buddy Merriam and Back Roads in 1980 out of his love and respect for traditional Bluegrass music. He became close friends with the Father of Bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, and got to learn and eventually perform with him.
On Sept. 19,2015 Buddy was honored to receive the "Long Island Sound Award" from the LI Music Hall of Fame "For Outstanding Contributions to Long Island's Musical Heritage."  Buddy's second book of original mandolin music "Back Roads Mandolin Vol. 2" will be released in October of this year as well.

Buddy brought Back Roads down to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville to perform a few times. They've also performed at the Grand Opening of the BLUEGRASS MUSEUM AND HALL OF FAME and Country Music's Fan Fair in Nashville, TN. The group has played at most of the Northeast Bluegrass Festivals (including Grey Fox &Podunk) and at Long Island venues like Hecksher Park in Huntington, Bald Hill Cultural Center, Agawam Park in Southampton, and concerts for LITMA, Huntington Folk Music Society and the Museums at Stony Brook Folk & Fiddle Festival.

They were also featured at the International Bluegrass Music Association's WORLD OF BLUEGRASS SHOW in Owensboro, KY and Fan Fest in Louisville in 10/04. In Nov. of 2004 & 2007 the band did a successful tour of Ireland, Scotland & England.

Featured in Mandolin Magazine, Bluegrass Unlimited, CMT's "Bluegrass Sound", Flatpicking Magazine,WKET TV, PBS "Jubilee", PBS "Farming the Future", Independent Films; "Bluegrass Journey", "Bobs Rolling Reefer", "Iowa State Fair",and "Bradstock-The Movie and"The Wes Houston Show", Local publications; Newsday, Long Island Pulse, North Shore Sun, Good Times Magazine.

 Buddy has 7 CD's released on Lily Pad Records and a book of 30 original mandolin tunes (Back Roads Mandolin) newly released in 2011 with TAB. Vol. 2 will be released in 2014 with 30 more original tunes.
He host's the popular weekly Blue Grass Time radio show on WUSB 90.1 FM in Stony Brook, NY. since 1991. www.wusb.fm for live streaming. all shows are archived for one month.
Buddy’s 2009 Release, “Buddy Merriam-Back Roads Mandolin” features 14 of his original mandolin tunes; bluegrass, waltzs, gypsy jazz and some contemporary interpretation of his very original style. He has composed over 1000 instrumentals presently being transcribed and recorded.
Buddy is just putting the finishing touches on his latest CD "The Farm"of original vocal & intsrumental tunes including a couple of Buddy's favorite Bill Monroe songs. Release date is sometime mid October 1, 2014

Buddy is proud that the year 2014 marks his 34th year heading his band.

Buddy performs & records on a Monteleone Grand Artist and a Gilchrist F5 mandolin with D'Addario EXP 74 strings and Planet Waves accessories. He also endorses MI-SI mandolin pickups, LR Baggs picup and preamp.

Kathy DeVine - Guitar & Vocals

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Kathy DeVine on vocals & rhythm guitar for Buddy's 37th 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.

Born April 14, 1957 on a family farm in Coram, NY, Kathy is a native Long Islander steeped in the country music her mother Pat sang in the 1950's  and 60's with local performers Country band legend Sonny Campbell, Tommy Lopez and others. Her mother died tragicaly in an auto accident when Kathy was 5 yrs young. The inspiration of the music that her mother left behind remained silent most of her life until she met Buddy at a gig. It was as if all those years of silence were just waiting to hear that bluegrass sound! It was all Kathy needed to spur her on and bring out songs of the past and learn new bluegrass tunes and put her where she is today at the side of her hearts own love. 

Kathy plays a 2006 Martin HD-28V guitar and loves D'Addario's new EXP 16 strings, Blue Chip CT55 pick's

It is fantastic to welcome her back to the Buddy Merriam & Back Roads show once again for 2017!

Ward Cloughen - Double Bass/vocals/harmony

ward_150.jpgBorn 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!"

Beaumont Tamchin - Lead guitar

Beau's the quiet one of the band but his guitar playing for Back Roads speaks bluegrass flat picking, YES, SIR!

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Eamonn O'Rourke - fiddle

Eamonn_1762_.jpgEamonn joins Back Roads for it's 37th season with some might fine fiddle playing. Born in Donegal, Ireland has made his way to the States playing and touring with Kathy Mattea. 

Brian Chabza - Fiddle

Brian1.jpgBorn 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