This latest 20 Things article catches up with bluegrass songstress Becky Buller, award-winning fiddler, prolific songwriter, and high visibility band leader. Becky has spent her whole adult life in music, pitching songs and working as a supporting musician before venturing out on her own as a solo artist.
Now with her own band, and a couple of solo/group projects under her belt, she has achieved headliner status in our business.
Here’s 20 Things you didn’t know about Becky Buller:
1. The thing I am most proud of … being Jeff Haley’s wife and Romy’s mama.
2. I’m reading The Lord Of The Rings again…for the umpteenth time.
3. I’ve played in or at least driven through all the lower 48 states, with the exception of Vermont and Louisiana. Music has also taken me to Puerto Rico and 19 countries around the world. I can’t wait to see where The Bluegrass will take me next!
4. My all-time favorite meal in the whole wide world is Mom’s homemade verenika with venison/beef ring bologna and gravy. Verenika is kind of like a perogi, but is filled with dried cottage cheese instead of potato. It’s then either boiled or fried and served with a variety of different toppings, some savory, some sweet. It’s a Ukrainian dish my Grandma Buller taught Mom how to make.
5. My dad grew up Mennonite in Mountain Lake, MN. His Great Grandpa Buller brought the family over to the United States from the Ukraine in 1884. The family was originally from Moravia (now in the Czech Republic), where they converted to the Mennonite faith before moving to the Ukraine to be part of the Molochna Colony, the largest settlement of Mennonites in the Russian Empire.
6. The Becky Buller Band almost always breaks for ice cream after a gig.
7. Mary Mary (the B^3 merch mannequin) scares me, too. (Thanks to The Mercantile/Sweet Simplicity Bakery on the square in Manchester, TN., for loaning her to us…I think…)
8. I co-wrote Freedom with Infamous Stringduster fiddler Jeremy Garrett. It’s the lead off track on their Laws Of Gravity release that just won a 2018 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. I also wrote the song Scratch Gravel Road, the title cut of Special Consensus’ album that received a 2012 Grammy nomination.
9. The summer of 1998, I was an Elk River Boy. I thought it was pretty cool to be the only female Elk River Boy that season. The band was headed up by the late Bruce Moody and EC Miller, Bluegrass legends of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. I experienced my first Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Festival with them. An Elvis impersonator pumped our gas in Nashville, IN.
10. My husband has performed on the Grand Ol’ Opry and I have not. Jeff was there picking guitar with the Big Creek Band from Manchester, TN, in the 1990s.
11. My brother Michael and my sister-in-law, Erika, are both Lutheran pastors. Michael is lead pastor at Faith Lutheran in Pelican Rapids, MN. Erika is associate pastor at Bethel Lutheran in Wahpeton, ND.
12. Annie Herring from the 2nd Chapter Of Acts band was a big influence on my songwriting, along with Larry Norman…both from the Jesus People Rock music scene of the 1970s…in addition to all the songwriters I normally mention (Gillian Welch, Darrell Scott, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Carol King, Tim Stafford, Leroy Drumm and Pete Goble, Randall Hylton, Dolly Parton, Tim O’Brien, Claire Lynch, etc.)
13. My first instrument was piano; I started lessons with Chris Pitcher at home in St. James, MN, when I was five. I was a percussionist in the marching band all through middle and high school. I played electric bass in the jazz band and I sang in both choir and show choir.
14. I was the concert master of the Mankato Area Youth Symphony during the 1996-97 season. I was also in the Gustavus Adolphus College orchestra that year.
15. My first job was working for my parents in their dry-cleaning shop when I was about 15. I was trying to earn money to buy a fiddle and pay for lessons with Charles Gray at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. I wrote a lot of songs while bagging clothes and cleaning up the shop.
16. For inspiration, I carry a picture of Aubrey Haynie’s bow arm in my fiddle case.
17. Jeff asked me to marry him while we were putting together a Bluegrass Valentine’s Day show at WMSR Thunder Radio in Manchester, TN. We’ve been together 12 years now, married for the last nine. I am so blessed with wonderful family, both in Minnesota and now in Tennessee.
18. I LOVE watching Shaun The Sheep…with or without Romy.
19. In addition to the Moravian genes, I have German, Irish, and Swedish ancestry, possibly even some English and Scottish in the mix.
20. I’ve read everything Lucy Maud Montgomery (of Anne Of Green Gables fame) ever wrote and was absolutely beside myself when I finally got to visit her home on Prince Edward Island, Canada, several years ago.