Mike Conant, Shawna Bell, Jane Bernier, Richard Bernier
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Jane Bernier (Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals); Shawna Bell (Bass & Vocals); Mike Conant (Fiddle, Banjo, Vocals); Rich Bernier (Guitar, Dobro, Vocals)
Back Woods Road is a highly energized acoustic band known for its tight harmonies, hard driving lead solos, and crowd-pleasing diversified choice of music and arrangements. There’s never an ordinary song for this band. They take it up a notch and one further. Sweet harmonies abound with music from true bluegrass to newgrass, unique acoustic music and beyond.
Jane began singing at a very young age french songs and jigs and reels with her family. She was often singled out as a soloist for banquets and church functions. Her parents purchased her first Yamaha guitar when she was in 7th grade to her delight. She took pride in singing in church choirs, folk groups and choral in school. She joined a contemporary rock band in 1978 as lead singer. Jane spent many subsequent years playing in colleges, nightclubs and private functions with Odyssey, Illusion, Montana, and Jump Start. She was influenced primarily by the sweet voice of Emmy Lou Harris, strong vocals of Linda Ronstadt and haunting ballads of Karla Bonoff along with the rockers like Bonnie Raiit, Fleetwood Mac and The Pretenders.
Throughout her tenure as a rock and country musician, she maintained her love for folk and unplugged music. In 2000, she attended her first bluegrass festival and had the privilege of picking and singing with a headliner band from Kentucky. It was then that the bluegrass bug hit her. The similarities to jigs and reels of old and the harmonies really captured her attention, leading her down the path to listening intently and learning from the greats. She went on to join The Nitpickers as singer and instrumentalist and now moves forward in Back Woods Road.
Shawna has always been enamored with music and at a very young age began singing and playing, teaching herself to play guitar. She came from bluegrass/country roots where her taste in music was greatly influenced by her grandmother. It was very common to hear Patsy Cline on the radio and she’d try to pick it out and learn to play and perfect it on guitar. With a strong driving voice that can melt your heart in a beautiful ballad or can rock you with some grit, Shawna was taught to play bass and introduced into the band life joining her first bluegrass band Breakin Strings, and subsequently Phat Grass. Success was theirs and she knew from that point that playing music was and is her passion. She moved on from there to a whole new style playing Rockabilly and derived great pleasure from that also. This project with Back Woods Road will bring out her musical talents in any genre.
Mike learned to play guitar from his mother at a young age. In the sixth grade he performed ‘Tom Dooley’ with a couple of violinist classmates. Intrigued by the violin, he joined the school orchestra, and played in several different school ensembles over the next half dozen years. He played and sang in churches. In 1999, while attending his first Bluegrass Festival at Hebron Pines, he was blown away by the Jerks of Grass. Fast forward to July 4, 2002, where at a backyard barbecue, Ben DeTroy encouraged him to learn to play the banjo. Using his mother’s old 1890 Bay State open back, he took some lessons from Carter Logan. He used the money that should have gone to pay for a dental crown to buy a decent banjo (that tooth would be known as his ‘banjo tooth‘). After struggling with the banjo for a few years, he was given his wife’s grandfather’s fiddle, which had survived 50 years in the attic waiting for someone to play it. Grandpa Olsen smoked a cigar while playing classical music, and the fiddle was charred from the cigar and full of tobacco. Mike took lessons from Melissa Bragdon for a couple of years, and attended jams at 317 Main Street with Jason Phelps. He’s played every chance he can get, and is excited to be a part of Back Woods Road.
Rich started playing guitar at the age of 11. Learning on his own he played folk music in the early years and rock and blues for the majority of his career in music. He had many influences in the early years from Cream, Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers to name a few. Bands he played in were Lotus, Freebird, Odyssey, Illusion, Montana, Care and Jumstart just to name a few. Richard retired from the rock scene in 1994 to focus on his new position as outside sales for an industrial company he was working for. In 2001, he went to his first Bluegrass Festival and got hooked into this great music. In 2004, Richard bought his first dobro (of 4 he would own). Again teaching himself, he spent many hours trying to learn this instrument that looked easier than it was. Influenced by the great playing of Bobby Coombs, Richard started learning the tricks of the trade thanks to many people he met along the way. In 2007, Richard, his wife, and brother Don put The Nitpickers together with Rick Dale and Woody Woods. They played all over the State and competed in the band contest at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival. The band was very successful but came to an end in 2011. That’s when Back Woods Road was formed – a 3-piece high energy acoustic bluegrass band that played a lot in a two year span. With the loss of bass player Woody Woods, Richard thought the band was done, however, a decision was made to hire two people, bass player, Shawna Bell, as well as Mike Conant on fiddle and banjo and the new band is better than ever. Please take a trip down Back Woods Road… you will not regret it!
Read McNamara, Ken Taylor, Erica Brown, Matt Shipman, Steve Roy
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Erica Brown (Fiddle/Vocals); Matt Shipman (Guitar/Vocals); Steve Roy (Mandolin/Vocals); Read McNamara (Banjo/Dobro/Vocals); Ken Taylor (Bass/Vocals);
ERICA BROWN– Erica developed an interest in music at an early age. At the age of seven, Erica was competing in fiddle contests with kids twice her age. At age nine, she was traveling throughout New England, Canada, and even Louisiana with the Maine French Fiddlers. Erica also performed as a special guest with Mac McHale And The Old-Time Radio Gang for five years. Currently, she has her own bluegrass band, Erica Brown & The Bluegrass Connection, which performs all over New England. Erica is also a member of the country band, The Record Family Band. Erica was a member of the Bates College “Fighting Bobcats” Orchestra for five years and was a member of the Maine All-State Music Festival for two years. She has competed in and won numerous fiddle contests throughout New England and Canada. In 2003 she was awarded Junior Female Entertainer Of The Year by the Maine Country Music Association and in 2006 she received the Harold Carter Memorial Award from the Down East Country Music Association. Erica has helped bring music into several elementary schools by holding workshops and personally performing. She has a strong desire to share her knowledge with anyone who has an interest in music and the fiddle. Erica Brown was a recipient of a 2006 Maine Arts Commission Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Award and was recognized as a Master Artist by the Maine Arts Commission that same year. Her talent for combining the precision of classical music with the spontaneity of country and bluegrass fiddle makes for a fun-filled performance every time she plays.
Performance highlights include opening for Grammy award winning country music superstar, Dwight Yoakam, as well as Grammy award winning bluegrass performer, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.
MATT SHIPMAN– Matt Shipman currently resides in Portland, ME and is a performer and teacher of acoustic and traditional music. He has been teaching guitar and mandolin at a Community Music School in Yarmouth, ME called 317 Main St. for 5 years now and has been performing for around 10 years. He also enjoys playing bouzouki, tenor and clawhammer banjo. He attended the Hartt School of Music for a time where he studied Jazz trumpet before going back to his first love of traditional and acoustic music. This appreciation of traditional music is reflected in his college career, a 2004 graduate of Vermont College, majoring in a self designed major of Traditional Music Studies. For this study he traveled through Nova Scotia, North Carolina and Maine recording and compiling songs and stories from people he met, which later culminated as a radio documentary about traditional music in the 21st century. During that time he also attended the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago where he studied various instruments and styles. Matt currently performs and records with High Range, The Stowaways and Erica Brown’s Bluegrass Connection and various traditional Irish music ensembles in Maine and New Hampshire and enjoys the vibrant Portland musical community. He is currently working on a recording centered around Celtic finger-style guitar.
STEVE ROY– Steve Roy is a mulit-instrumentalist from Portland, Maine. While he is most well known for his bass playing, he also plays and teaches mandolin, guitar, and fiddle. He has performed locally as well as internationally with a myriad of bluegrass bands, including Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection, Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum, Hit and Run Bluegrass, Spring Creek Bluegrass, Chris Stuart and Backcountry, The Stowaways, High Range, and many others. Bluegrass Now Magazine calls him a “dangerous weapon”. Steve also performs regularly in a wide variety of jazz, rock, country, rockabilly, and folk groups, and sometimes as a solo artist. Steve currently teaches at 317 Main St. Community Music Center in Yarmouth, Maine.
KEN TAYLOR– Ken Taylor has been performing with Erica for 8 years playing acoustic bass and adds some vocals for the group. Ken keeps the band tight with arguably the most solid bass-playing in the New England area. He originally started as a guitar player with an interest in folk music but was soon sidetracked into bluegrass. He’s been hard at work too…. Ken was one of the original members of the Central Turnpike Bluegrass Band from the Central MA area. He also gets a chance to strut his stuff with Blackstone Valley Bluegrass Band and Heritage String Band. Always in demand, you never know where you will find him playing bass. Ken plays like an old master, his style is powerful, his timing is right-on and his love of music shows in every performance.
READ MCNAMARA– Read McNamara started playing banjo at the age of 18 while at college. As he puts it, “Everyone else played guitar. After my Grandfather died, I inherited his old Gibson banjo, so I started playing that to change things up a bit.” The ancient tones of bluegrass struck a chord with Read, and he and the four other members of his college band began immersing themselves in all things bluegrass. After graduating, Read and the members of the band moved to Virginia and began touring full time up and down the East Coast. When he left the band in May of 2002, Read was offered a spot playing banjo for SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America) 2001 & 2002 Midwest Entertainer of the Year, Charlie Lawson and Oak Hill. For the next year, Read honed his chops on the road. Charlie had also won the Banjo Player of the Year award numerous times, and helped Read develop his traditional Scruggs style banjo. To this day, Read attributes much of what he has learned to Charlie and is deeply indebted to him for all that he learned. Unfortunately, in late 2003, Charlie retired from traveling. With the help of legendary bluegrass utility man, Butch Robins, Read eventually found a spot playing for a local Indiana band called the Old City Trio. In March of 2004, Read and his soon-to-be wife left Indiana for the East Coast to be closer to their families. Now settled in Alfred, Maine, Read is proud to be a member of Erica Brown’s band the Bluegrass Connection.
Emily Randolph,Whitney Randolph, Resa Randolph
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Resa Randolph (Vocal, Guitar, Banjo); Emily Randolph (Vocal, Bass); Whitney Randolph (Banjo, Mandolin, Vocal)
Rockport-based band, Miners Creek, brings its own distinctive down-home, Maine-grown voice to bluegrass music. The band’s sound is rooted in the bluegrass tradition with a heavy sprinkling of folk, latin, Appalachian, blues, and old timey gospel.
Song-writing mother/daughter duo Resa & Emily Randolph play guitar and bass while blending their voices in high, tight harmonies while husband/dad Whitney joins in on banjo and mandolin.
They released their first CD, “Ulysses on the Highway” in April 2015 with 11 original songs and one cover. Their Kickstarter-funded second album, “Strong Black Coffee” containing a mix of 14 originals, covers and medleys was released in June 2016.
Founded in October 2013, the band has opened for Red Molly and David Dodson; performed at the Bronze-Wound Showcase at the International Bluegrass Association Conference in Raleigh, NC; the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Special band competition; Joe Val and Jenny Brook showcases; and performed on the main stage at Bluegrass on the Bogs and the North Branch Bluegrass Festival. In August 2016, the band won 2nd place in Billy’s Belly Bluegrass Competition.
In addition to performing, the members of Miners Creek also teach bluegrass jamming classes, sponsor music jams, and co-sponsor a local art, food and music festival.
Kelly Burke, Dan Burke, Andre Tardif, Bernie Staples, Wilf Clark
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The Misty Mountaineers band was formed in 1975 on St. Albans Mountain in Maine by Wilf Clark, who is the sole remaining member of the original band. He is the son of legendary cowboy singer, Yodeling Slim Clark. Wilf is a self-taught mandolin player, a lead singer and occasionally he does a few impersonations.
The band has had a number of personnel changes over the years with close to 50 different musicians as either full time or fill in members and The Mountaineers’ style has evolved with every personnel change. The current configuration features traditional bluegrass with a mix of older country tunes done bluegrass style as well as gospel and swing type tunes.
Bernie Staples is a rock solid rhythm player and fine picker on his Santa Cruz guitar. He is entering his 15th year as a Mountaineer and has performed in the past with several well known Maine acoustic acts including Chairback Gap and Good Clean Fill. Bernie sings lead vocals and tenor harmony. He resides in Madison with his wife, Sheila.
Andre Tardif joined the band in the fall of 2014. Andre has fronted his own country band as well as being a member of the Connecticut bluegrass band Crossover. He sings lead and harmony and plays both banjo and guitar for The Mountaineers. He and his wife Jacqueline, a fine vocalist, reside in Glenburn.
Dan Burke’s first band experience was playing bass in a high school rock and roll band. After a long absence from playing he picked it up again after attending a bluegrass festival. For many years he was a welcome picker at the Mountaineer campsite and started playing dobro for the band full time in the spring of 2014. Along with his tasteful playing he adds some fine baritone harmonies to the mix.
Kelly Burke is the newest member of the band. It was the social nature of this music that lured her and Dan in to the bluegrass music community about fifteen years ago. A bass was put in Kelly’s hands and Dan found a dobro in his lap and it wasn’t long before they both could be found picking and jamming. They soon caught the attention of local band members and for several years played for Bits and Pieces and Cribstone Bridge. They live in Freeport.
The Mountaineers have always been known for their jam sessions and willingness to include others. They have worked with many younger players helping them learn about the music. The Mountaineers have performed at many festivals including Blistered Fingers, The County Bluegrass Festival, the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, The Red Clay Festival and Thomas Point Beach and many private functions as well as town events and fairs in the northeast.
Dana Snowman, Tom Healy, Gary Shorette, Karen Shorette
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Gary Shorette (Vocal, Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar, Mandolin); Karen Shorette (Bass); Tom Healy (Vocal, Mandolin); Dana Snowman (Vocal, Guitar)
We are a Bluegrass band from central Maine.We are influenced by the the early Bluegrass masters Bill Monroe /Flatt and Scruggs/The Stanley brothers we add some originals to the mix as well as some newer material,Gary Shorette plays banjo fiddle guitar mando vocals Karen Shorette plays the bass Tom Healy plays mandolin vocals Danna Snowman Guitar vocals
Steve Frens, Ben Whatley, Nick Whatley, Seth Gallant
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We are an acoustic string band that plays classic country, bluegrass, and Western swing, as well as originals. We play events of all sizes from farmers markets to festivals.
Dana Reynolds, Stan Keach, Bud Godsoe, Dan Simons, Julie Davenport
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Stan Keach (Guitar); Bud Godsoe (Banjo); Dan Simons (Mandolin); Julie Davenport (Upright Bass); Dana Reynolds (Vocals); Finn Woodruff (Fiddle)
The Sandy River Ramblers are the second oldest Bluegrass band in Maine, having been established in 1982. Original members still in the band are Stan Keach and Bud Godsoe. Liz Keach, an original member, is semi-retired from music, but still subs for other members when needed. Keach is the most widely recorded Bluegrass songwriter in Maine ever, having had many of his original songs recorded by big-name Bluegrassers, including James King, Audie Blaylock, Special Consensus, Danny Paisley, and many others. Godsoe and Simons are two of the best pickers in the state, and Davenport, only 22, is a stunningly good lead singer. 14-year-old Reynolds in a vocal prodigy, and the vocal trio of Keach, Davenport and Reynolds has been widely praised. Woodruff, 17, is already a fine young fiddler. The Ramblers’ specialty is original songs about Maine. Their CD, Cry of the Loon and other original songs about Maine, has been critically acclaimed and has been, Keach believes, the best selling Bluegrass CD in Maine over the past 4 years.
Stan Keach, Dan Simons
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Stan Keach (Guitar); Dan Simons (Mandolin)
Stan & Dan have been playing music together professionally since 2002 (with a few years off when Dan lived in Indiana), and their vocal harmonies are clean and clear. They share a love for the old-time brother duet style, and do many songs from the repertoires of the Monroe Brothers, Delmore Brothers, Blue Skye Boys. Their variety-filled act also features Bluegrass, Country and Hillbilly Rock, and some of Stan’s original songs about Maine. Dan is a master of the Monroe style Mandolin (both pre-1945 and post-1945), but can a lot of other styles as well. Their video of “What the North Pond Hermit Knows” has had almost 20,000 views on Youtube, plus wide exposure on Bill Green’s Maine (WCSH6) and a New York Times Online video. Their versatility make Stan & Dan a perfect choice for all occasions.
Don DePoy, Martha Hill, Joe Kennedy, Nellie Kennedy
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Don DePoy (Guitar, Mountain Dulcimer, Autoharp); Martha Hill (Bass Fiddle, Percussion); Joe Kennedy (Harmonica, Bass Fiddle); Nellie Kennedy (Mandolin, Guitar, Bass Fiddle, Mountain Dulcimer, Autoharp, Percussion)
Three Yankees and a Hillbilly” brings an extensive Americana song repertory and extraordinary master instrumentalist skills to the stage for the delight of all who listen.
What makes Three Yankees and a Hillbilly so unique is their love of life and music making. As veteran entertaining couples, Martha & Don and Joe & Nellie are not only comfortable on stage but they can, as if by magic, carry the audience along as they create the instant art of music making.
The depth of versatile voicing options, extensive songbook, and instrument groupings allows innumerable combinations and an ever changing dynamics for each song. Add spritely on-stage banter and “Three Yankees and a Hillbilly” keeps the audience’s full attention. No listener could ever say, “After a while the songs all begin to sound alike
Frank “Woody” Woodard, Mama Beth Revels, Jim Chard, Steve Davis
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The Windy Ridge Band has been playing bluegrass music at festivals, coffee houses, restaurants, parades, private parties and even a rodeo since the band was established in 1989. They play a variety of their favorite traditional bluegrass, folk and Americana songs and feature many songs written by Jim Chard. As a band comprised of U.S. Veterans, Windy Ridge has recently participated in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. They were honored to win first place for categories entered in 2014, 2015 & 2016 which resulted in showcasing their talents in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Durham, North Carolina and Jackson Mississippi at the NVCAF annual show. Another of the band’s highlights include their 2011 CD “Invitation” comprised entirely of Jim’s original tunes.
Founding member and award winning songwriter Jim Chard sings lead and plays guitar and mandolin. Mama Beth Revels sings lead & harmony and plays mandolin and guitar. Frank “Woody” Woodard, an original member, sings and keeps a steady beat on the bass. Windy Ridge’s newest member, Steve Davis, adds a great sound with his skillful touch on the banjo.