Buddy Merriam: Back Roads Mandolin

Back Roads Mandolin - Buddy MerriamMandolin player Buddy Merriam has recently released a new solo CD containing 14 of his traditionally styled, original mandolin compositions.

Buddy is a special jewel within the bluegrass firmament. Not only is he a traditionalist at heart, but also an innovator. Something I think Monroe would have been proud of. In addition to his fine mandolin playing, Buddy has contributed to the bluegrass world by mentoring a number of currently rising stars. Andy Falco, of the Infamous Stringdusters, spent time learning bluegrass music in Buddy’s band, Buddy Merriam & Back Roads. Chris Eldridge, Chris Pandolfi, Josh Williams, and others, have all been influenced by Buddy. Opened his room to late night jam sessions and simply hanging out with these young players, Buddy has mentored them in the ways of bluegrass.

When Buddy talks about bluegrass, mandolin, or Bill Monroe, you would be wise to listen.

And when he plays…well listen still, and enjoy!

This new CD, Back Roads Mandolin, bears a strong traditional bluegrass tone, but Buddy doesn’t limit himself. He introduces the sounds of waltzes, gypsy jazz, and polka. The CD closes with a haunting, but lively, tribute to the late Butch Baldassari. The tune is appropriately named Baldassari.

Buddy’s fellow band members all take part in contributing to the well rounded bluegrass sound of this CD. Ernie Sykes (bass), Jerry Oland (5-string banjo), Bob Harris (guitar), and Gary Oleyar (fiddles), are all present, along with appearances by Jeff Schmich on harmony mandolin, and Mike Sassano on mandola, mandocello and harmony mandolin.

Buddy described the CD this way.

Along with the hard core mandolin tunes there is a Waltz that features the 5 string (Jerry Oland), a polka that features the guitar (Bob Harris) and a twin fiddle tune (Gary Oleyar). I wrote one to the memory of Butch Baldassari with the mandolin family instruments(mandola & mandocello) entitled “Baldassari”.

In addition to the new CD, Buddy tells me that his first mandolin book has been revised in a new edition, with 30 tunes and tablature, as well as standard music notation. The book is almost ready for publication, and Buddy intends to begin work on volume 2 as soon as this new edition is out. The new book will contain all new tunes from several of his more recent recordings.

Back Roads Mandolin is great CD of original, yet traditional, bluegrass instrumentals. It is mando-centric, but all the instruments get their time in the spotlight, including lead guitar (I guess it’s only so traditional!). Buddy’s traditional style and great tone come through loud and clear, the band is tasteful, the arrangements are appropriate on each tune, and the twin fiddle stuff is great.

If you like traditional bluegrass instrumentals, I would suggest you check out Back Roads Mandolin.