Buddy Merriam and Back Roads (#903)

A student of Bill Monroe mixes traditional bluegrass with new influences and methods.

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When Hartford, CT native Buddy Merriam decided to launch a bluegrass band in the 1980s, he sought out the finest of teachers: Bill Monroe, the acknowledged father of bluegrass music. Merriam and the band, Back Roads, show off the results of that early tutelage as well as more than two decades of playing together in this Jubilee performance from the 2003 Kentucky Lake Bluegrass Festival.

Merriam’s devotion to traditional bluegrass and his band’s willingness to seek new influences and methods have earned them the respect of fans and critics alike. “The band strives to open the music up to new ideas and influences while, at the same time, tipping its collective hat to the historical precedents of the form,” says Bluegrass Unlimited magazine.

Based in New York, Buddy Merriam and Back Roads are fixtures on the Northeast region’s bluegrass circuit. The band includes Merriam on mandolin, Ron Feinberg on fiddle, lead singer Chris Maloy on rhythm guitar, Andy Falco on electric and acoustic guitar, Patrick Falco on stand-up bass, and Jerry Oland on five-string banjo. Their Jubilee set spotlights selections from the CD It’s Bluegrass Time, which mixes 10 new songs with bluegrass standards “Body and Soul” and “Blue Yodel #4.”