Musicians

Ellery Marsellery.thumbhall hails from sunny Pasadena, California, where he grew up in the great tradition of watching his elders shred bluegrass. His father John Marshall (bass and fiddle) and uncle Evan Marshall (mandolin) are string music luminaries on the west coast and beyond. Ellery grew up playing the drumset, and was transfixed by the grooves of jazz greats: Philly Jo Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Brian Blade. It’s that careful attention to groove and musicality that makes Ellery one of the most tasteful and driving straight-ahead 5-string banjo players in NYC. And it’s no surprise that he should gravitate towards the banjo, which is “really just a drum with strings stretched over it”. His banjo heroes are J.D. Crowe, Chris Warner, and above all Tom Adams.

Sheriff UnclSheriffBobe Bob Saidenburg is a true New York City native, born and raised and given all the freedom as a young man to explore the city and all it had to offer. He participated in the Greenwich Village folk revival of the 1960’s, and in the 90’s, he bought his first Dobro on a whim. Shortly after that, he heard Jerry Douglas and was hooked for life. The Sheriff has been an instrumental figure in promoting bluegrass in New York, most notably as the host of the now legendary jam at the Baggot Inn, where countless collaborations and musical relationships were formed that last to this day. Bob continues to host a monthly session at the Zinc Bar, and can be seen around town sporting his signature leather visor, vest, and badge. Every weekend, Bob heads to Sag Harbor and takes on the waves on his windsurfing board.

 

Zack Bruce64017_1623972116516_4654698_n‘s life and career have taken on an unusual trajectory. Transforming from dreadlocked Central American aid worker to clean-cut bespoke-suit-wearing Manhattan banker was a relatively fast transition. It may seem like spearheading sustainable development projects in rural Nicaragua and making small business micro-loans in Manhattan share nothing in common, but in fact there is a sense of community in both projects that Zack is drawn to.  “I like to work. I’ll work that much harder if I think it’s something that will make people’s lives better.” Zack is a founding member of the BkBC and its acting co-manager. Fun fact: In 2003 Zack and a colleague were carjacked at gunpoint in rural Honduras, driven to a remote mountain area, and tied up on the ground. They untied each other and escaped when the guards took a break.

One of the best pieces of advice Max Johnson ever heard is a quote from Milton Babbitt: “I don’t understand the morality that would insistMaxJohnson that it is more moral to stoop to conquer the masses, rather then to set a standard for which they might aspire.”  Max is quickly becoming an expert at setting high standards.  He is one of the most in-demand upright bassists in NYC, and has already crafted a unique sound and vision as an improviser. He has performed with Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Muhal Richard Abrams, Karl Berger and many others. Having been in NYC for several years, Max’s favorite thing about living here is that “there’s no other place where there are more artists of the highest caliber all living within 20 miles of each other, all being screwed by the MTA together.”  Never has NYC’s music scene been summed up better.

 

 

Coming to Sam Fiddle 5us from the conservatory halls is BkBC founding member Sam Barnes. A lover of nature and the outdoors, Sam Barnes tries to stay up every night until dawn to hear the birds outside his Brooklyn apartment window. When not gigging in New York, Sam runs a successful lesson studio and heavily incorporates bluegrass into his lessons. A connoisseur of the finer things, Sam Barnes is super down with Stone, Lagunitas, and Sierra Nevada, maybe the best beers from California. However, Sam Barnes, who takes probiotics daily, is NOT from California. He is a Hoosier.

Thomas Bryan EatTBE-2014pressphotoon is a New York City country music and Americana fixture.  A prolific songwriter, he released an album of original music in 2014 entitled “We All Want to be Love”.   In addition to his considerable tour schedule, Thomas (or TBE, as he is widely known) is an in-demand session player, sought out for his instrumental skills on the guitar, mandolin, and pedal steel.  Thomas loves the Grateful Dead, hates sour cream, and his favorite joke is: “Why did the chicken commit suicide?”  “To get to the other side!”

Abby Hollander AbbyHollanderis a singer, bassist, and guitarist originally from Woodstock, NY.  From a musical family, Abby’s parents are celebrated musicians in their own right, collaborating often with banjo legend Bill Keith and Dobro player Cindy Cashdollar. She was raised on an eclectic mix of bluegrass, country, and jazz – which were played on the stereo a little and the back porch a lot. Abby was recently honored in the songwriting competition at the 2014 Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival with awards for two of her original songs, ‘Darlin City’ and ‘Loneliness Here’. Abby’s dream is to one day open a bed-and-breakfast bluegrass pickin’ parlor: “We would play music all day, and cook tons of food.  Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?”

CraigJudelmanFiddler Craig Judelman has a deep knowledge of old-time fiddle music, cajun music, klezmer, and rock / Americana.  Craig has traveled the country with Martha Redbone’s band, and with his band the Dust Busters.  When not sawing away on the strings, Craig is an avid collector and connoisseur of vintage clothing.  His dream is a one day drive a box truck “mobile thrift store” between NYC and New Orleans.

JeffPicker

By the time he graduated high school, Jeff Picker was already one of Oregon’s most promising young bassists. Soon after entering the New School for his first semester, he quickly decided music school wasn’t for him and opted instead for a literature degree from Columbia. Then Jeff met the acoustic guitar stylings of Tony Rice and Doc Watson, and finally realized why his last name is “Picker”. In a short amount of time, he has become a prominent flatpicker in the bluegrass community. Jeff continues to broaden his horizons and can be found all over New York most nights of the week playing everything from straight ahead jazz to fiddle tunes to classic country ballads.

RickSnell

Coffee enthusiast, avid runner, and consummate guitarist Rick Snell is one of NYC’s most notable bluegrass practitioners. Rick is a co-founder of the multi-year-running weekly Monday night jam at Mona’s bar in the East Village. In addition to hosting one of NYC’s most notable bluegrass jam sessions, Rick is the founder of the Enfield Tennis Academy Benevolence Society, a book club named after the school in David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.” Rick’s favorite beer is Fat Tire (not available in NYC!?), and he hopes to one day compete in the NYC Marathon.

JasonSypher

Jason Sypher is a restless creative force on the bass who can bow on the instrument like a fiddler, pluck like an old time banjo or just groove a tune into bedrock.  Moving to New Orleans he immersed himself in blues, cajun, jazz and zydeco, creating his style and sound from the streets to the clubs and recording studios.  Within a few years he was recording and performing with legends Irma Thomas, Clifton Chenier Jr., Little Freddie King, Kermit Ruffins and Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Leon Redbone, Howard Fishman, I Draw Slow, Laurelyn Dossett and Grammy award winning Irish singer Susan McKeown.  He toured twice with the Irish supergroup Lunasa in the US and Japan.  In 2014 he toured with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and will continue in 2015 with the talented Rhiannon Giddens for her first T-Bone Burnett-produced solo record “Tomorrow Is My Turn”.  He has been a fixture on the Old Time/Bluegrass festival circuit for nearly twenty years playing with some of the finest players around.  When at home in Brooklyn, Jason loves nothing more than to curl up with his son, a cup of tea, and a 900-page Van Gogh biography.

EricRobertsonEric Robertson, formerly of the Boston Boys, and now of The Rigs, brings a fresh energy to every musical situation he encounters.  Bluegrassers seek him out for his soulful singing and his mandolin playing, which draws from sources as diverse as funk and classical. The venerated Berklee mandolin professor, the late John McGann, said of Eric’s playing: [It] “has an authority that belies his relatively short amount of years on the instrument.”  A native North Carolinian, Eric’s move to NYC put him squarely in the bluegrass scene in a very short time.  When Eric is not gigging and jamming in the city, he is often on the road with his band.  In September 2014, Eric and his bandmates performed and collaborated with musicians in Morocco and Pakistan as part of the NEFA and the U.S. State Department’s Center Stage Program.