MAY 1, 2010

Buddy Merriam
& Back Roads

Buddy Merriam & Back Roads

Howdy Friends! . . . it's Blue Grass Time


For three decades Buddy Merriam & Back Roads have been bringing hard driving bluegrass music to Long Island, the northeast and beyond. After being struck by lightning in 1976 at his first bluegrass festival in upstate New York — and living to tell about it — Buddy Merriam made a special connection with the mandolin and the man who is called “the father of bluegrass”, Bill Monroe. He mentored Buddy for many years until his passing in 1996. Buddy Merriam and Back Roads perform in concert his brand of hard core, traditional high energy bluegrass entertainment with lots of original mandolin music, including some from his new CD, Back Roads Mandolin — hard driving banjo and some of the finest bluegrass singing you’ll ever hear.

BUDDY MERRIAMBuddy Merriam has lived most of his life far from the Blue Hills of Kentucky, — he grew up in the Northeast and has lived and worked on Long Island for much of that time. He formed his band, 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. Buddy brought Back Roads down to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville to perform a few times which is no minor accomplishment for a New York area mandolin player! They've also performed at Lincoln Center and 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 and 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, Nassau County Folk Festival, and the Museums at Stony Brook Folk and Fiddle Festival. They were also featured at the International Bluegrass Music Association's WORLD OF BLUEGRASS SHOW in Owensboro, KY and the Fan Fest in Louisville in 10/04. In Nov. of 2004 the band did a successful tour of Ireland. Featured in Flatpicking Magazine, CMT's "Bluegrass Sound", WKET TV, Independent Films; "Bluegrass Journey", "Bobs Rolling Reefer", The Wes Houston Show, Local publications; Newsday, North Shore Sun. Buddy has 6 CD's released on Lily Pad Records and a book of 30 original mandolin tunes (Back Roads Mandolin) and also hosts the weekly Blue Grass Time radio show on WUSB 90.1 FM in Stony Brook, NY. 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. Buddy is proud that the year 2010 marks his 30th year heading his band.

Back Roads — The Band Members

ERNIE SYKESErnie Sykes, on vocals and bass. Ernie started his professional career at age 17 with his dad's band, The Sykes Boys, which also included Buddy Merriam. He later joined the Bluegrass Cardinals which led to his becoming established in the bluegrass field. Since then, Ernie has worked with such greats as Don Stover, The Osborne Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Don Reno and Bill Monroe. He was also a founding member of the group Livewire along with Scott Vestal, Robert Hale, and Wayne Benson. Ernie's diverse musical interests have led him well beyond the parameters of bluegrass. In 1999, he was featured on three movie soundtracks, and was honored with a Grammy citation for participating on a recording with Marty Stuart and Earl Scruggs. In 2001 Ernie was called to The Cayman Islands to help record an album of island music. 2001 also saw the release of his first solo LP, COUNTRY JUKEBOX on his own Old Hickory label.

JERRY OLANDJerry Oland, The Putnam Valley Flash, on banjo. Jerry has been playing bluegrass banjo in the Hudson Valley for more than 40 years, drawing on the sounds of Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs. He attended his first bluegrass festival at Watermelon Park, Berryville, VA over the Labor Day weekend in 1968. After that he attended Bill Monroe's Bean Blossom Festival 4 years in a row from 1970 through 1973. Jerry brings an enormous amount of experience to the band, and his strong rhythmic sense helps define Back Roads' tight banjo groove. He has appeared numerous bands including The Arm Bros., Wheelhoss, The Millstone Valley Boys, Wildcat Creek, Out To Lunch, The Pep Boys, Bear Acker & Billings Gap, Stan Tyminski & Rustic Blue, and Buddy Merriam & Back Roads. Buddy & Jerry have played together since the 1970's and Jerry's banjo can be heard on Buddy Merriam & Friends Acoustic American Music, It's Blue Grass Time, and Live At The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall CD's. Jerry also released an album on the Revonah label in 1977 titled Jerry Oland - Banjo and Friends, since re-released on CD as Minor Accomplishment, and can also be heard on the Wildcat Creek Live At The Chelsea House CD.

KATHY DEVINEKathy Devine, The Sound Beach Songbird, on guitar, lead & harmony vocals. Kathy was born and raised as a native of Coram. Kathy's mother, Pat Bonhote, was a singer guitar player in a Long Island based Country/Western band back in the 1950's and 60's. Pat died tragically in an auto accident but her voice and the sounds of the music remained with Kathy all her life. She came upon Buddy Merriam & Back Roads in 2001 and became good friends, picked up her guitar and pressed on learning all she could about the history & players of the music.

The band brought her on board in 2006 & 2007, and she appeared as a special guest on Buddy's CD Live at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall. Now Kathy has taken a place once again in this season's lineup.

BOB HARRISBob Harris - Flatpicking Guitar. Bob Harris has played time and time again with Buddy for over 30 years. He is a guitar player with Vassar Clements. His unique style of flatpicking earned him Guitar Player International Flatpicking Champion In 1992. Listen for him on Buddy's 2005 CD "Live at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall" & 2009's "Back Roads Mandolin"

We were excited to have Buddy Merriam & Back Roads on their return to our Folk Music Society of Huntington stage — to power our 41st Anniversary season.

This was our opportunity to see this power band live on our stage —
it was a great show !!!

Praises by others for their performances:

  • "Virtuoso mandolin playing!"
        — KET TV

  • ". . . there is no finer Monroe style mandolin player out there."
        — Bluegrass Blog

  • "Although they cover a lot of musical ground, their instrumentals all are heartfelt, and that feeling is fully captured by Buddy and the other fine musicians "
        — Andy Bing - Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association

  Link to Back Roads playing The Bluebirds Are Singing For Me on YouTube

Listen to Buddy on MySpace     . . .  

or visit their web site:   Back Roads Mandolin CD

  Opening tonight were our featured open mike performers:

Our host tonight was Ira Perlman,


and our open mike featured performances by:

  • Bob Blatchley

  • Allan Fox

  • Bob DeVercelly

  • Robert Bruey

  • John Taylor

  • Timothy Young

  • Todd Evans

  • Claude Margouleff

  • Richard Barnhart

  • Jesse Oelbaum

  • Ken Bongort

  • Sevi Regis

  • Maria Fairchild

  • ...and Bob Westcott

  • If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the decade ...