Buddy Merriam

Buddy makes Staller Center for the Arts Debut


This friday, Buddy Merriam will make his debut at the Staller Center for the Arts Recital Hall performing 3 of his original tunes with Taylor Ackley and the Deep Roots Ensemble. Buddy will join the Ensemble for a full set of American Roots, bluegrass and original music. We are very excited about this recent collaboration between these music men and look forward to more down the road. This is free and open to the public.

Buddy Merriam to be Featured at Staller Center, Stony Brook


     It's late February and while the wind blows, the snow comes down and a deep chill is in the air, Buddy relishes this time to play his mandolin, write new tunes and make plans for the upcoming season of performances.

     In the midst of this and the up-time of the holidays & down-time that the winter months can bring, he has had a special honor and treat of catching the interest of SUNY Stony Brook "PHD to be" Taylor Ackley, who leads the The Deep Roots Ensemble at Stony Brook University.

     Taylor and his Roots Ensemble will be featuring Buddy Merriam on mandolin performing 3 of Buddy's new original compositions and several bluegrass songs at their May 3 performance at the Staller Center at Stony Brook University. Check back for time of show. We will have info for you to reserve tickets as the date draws near.

     I am so looking forward to a great night of music especially since Buddy's three compositions being featured that night are written for some very special loved ones in his family-that's all I am going to say. Can't tell it all. You're gonna have to come and see for yourself. 

     We are extremely grateful for Taylors' expertise in tanscribing and musical direction, his interest in documenting Buddy's relationship with bluegrass music and it's Father, Bill Monroe as well as the upcoming performance. Taylor is a great talent and Buddy is looking forward to future collaborations with him. 

You can find out more about Taylor Ackley at www.TaylorAckleyMusic.com 

Back Roads Mandolin Vol. 2 book just released


Back Roads Mandolin Vol. 2

32 Original Compositions


vol 2

 Now available

Buddy Merriam releases his second book of original mandolin compositions, BACK ROADS MANDOLIN Volume Two-  32 Original Compositions, containing all his tunes from his last four recordings along with six new pieces.

BACK ROADS MANDOLIN Volume Two features many of Buddy’s most popular compositions including “Blue Grass Time”- the theme song to his long running popular radio program on WUSB 90.1 fm, “Baldassari”, “Circle of Chiefs”, “Mason’s Restaurant” and tunes written for his family members - “Harmony’s Waltz”, “My Dear Mother’s Waltz”, “DeVine Time” and “Avery Anne’s Reel”. Audio tracks are available as well.
Transcribed by master mandolinist Lou Martin, the book includes notation and TAB along with some photographs from Buddy's private photo collection.

Celebrating 35 years with his bluegrass band Buddy Merriam & Back Roads he also presents his original music with The Mandolin Experience. Buddy learned bluegrass music and mandolin one to one from the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe. In turn, Buddy has mentored scores of young bluegrass musicians, teaching them “how to play it right.”

"Virtuoso mandolin playing!"  ~WKET TV (PBS “Jubilee”)

Performing with his bands, hosting “Blue Grass Time” radio, teaching mandolin and composing music Buddy is helping propagate and grow the music that has been his life for over 40 years.

"...Mandolin Master."  ~ Bluegrass Unlimited   

In 2015 Buddy received the “Long Island Sound Award” from the LI Music Hall of Fame.

Buddy to receive major award from Long Island Music Hall of Fame


PRESS RELEASE  Aug. 24, 2015
Buddy Merriam to receive the Long Island Music Hall of Fame “Long Island Sound” Award on Sunday Sept. 13 at the Fiddle & Folk Festival at Benner’s Farm in Setauket,NY. The award is presented “for Outstanding Contributions to Long Island’s Musical Heritage.”

Celebrating his 35th year leading his bluegrass band Buddy Merriam & Back Roads with his 7th CD “The Farm” and his 2nd book of original mandolin music “Back Roads Mandolin Vol. 2”.

Buddy is the voice of bluegrass for the last 24 years hosting his popular radio program “Blue Grass Time” every Wed. night on WUSB 90.1 fm in Stony Brook.

The group has performed up & down the East coast, at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, the International Bluegrass Association World of Bluegrass shows in Owensboro & Louisville, KY and two successful tours of Ireland, England and Scotland.

Buddy Merriam & Back Roads have entertained at most of the the major bluegrass festivals in the North East including Grey Fox, Joe Val, Podunk and Delaware Valley festivals. He was featured in a PBS “Jubilee” program filmed at the KY Lakes Bluegrass Festival.

Buddy performed over a dozen times with his friend & mentor, the Father of Bluegrass Music Bill Monroe and learned his powerful mandolin style directly from the music’s creator. He is proud to help carry on this wonderful American music style, bluegrass!

Upcoming shows:
Sept. 19 The Garlic Festival, Garden of Eve Organic Farm, Sound Ave, Riverhead, NY
Sept. 26 & 27 The Long Island Fair, Old Bethpage Village, Old Bethpage,NY

Buddy Merriam PO Box 862 Sound Beach, NY 11789

LI Winterfest on March 15


Sunday March 15th It's Blue Grass Time at Bedell Cellars with Buddy Merriam & Back Roads as part of this great event featuring live music on the North Fork. WE play 1-3 PM Main Rd Cutchogue,NY  for tickets www.bedellcellars.com

Buddy Merriam featured in LI News



December 2013

by Community Contributer John Wevers

You may obtain a copy by calling Buddy Merriam at 631-744-2911 $5 includes shipping and handling



Bluegrass Wedding



Just the right music for that very special occasion. Here's a testimony from the bride:

"I have been going to see Buddy play for many years now and when it was time to plan my wedding, he was the first person I contacted because I couldn't imagine my most special day happening without the sound of his amazing mandolin playing and his awesome band.....

 The day came and they played their hearts out for us. Many of our guests never heard of them or bluegrass for that matter but boy they were all impressed. ....

 It is months after my wedding and my guests are still talking about them and asking questions about where they can go see them play and use them for there special occasion. Buddy and his band really made my day the most special and unique wedding. ...I highly recommend them if you want to have a great day that nobody will forget! Thank you Buddy for making my special day the best! "   Pamela Dellysse  7/11/13

2014 summer at the Beach Hut


For the Mandolin Experience and Back Roads it was a great summer every Tuesday night at the Meschutt Beach Hut in Hampton Bays. What could be better than the beach & open air bluegrass fun! We look forward to coming back next summer! Great food, drinks, people like Ronnie the rock man and best of all our most loved fans!!


Bru' na Bo"




What a very cool venue to play in Northport! Many thanks to

Andrea of the Northport Coalition for the Arts for bringing us in for a very special intimate show at Bru' na Bo'. We had a full house in this distinctive furniture and housewares show room. It was Buddy Merriam and his music of the Mandolin Experience with Brian Chabza on fiddle and Matt Riley on guitar.  Kathy DeVine was featured singing "In These Hills" and "Bad Seed.

If you are ever in the Northport Village, DO stop by and shop!


Belmont Stakes

LI Pulse Magazine Feb 2012


Words: Drew Moss | Photos: Lynn Spinnato

Words: Drew Moss | Photos: Lynn Spinnato

Once in a while, if we’re incredibly lucky, we meet our heroes.

Once in awhile, if we’re incredibly unlucky, we get struck by lightning.

On a stormy August day in the Berkshire Mountains of 1976, Long Island bluegrass legend Buddy Merriam did both.

“When Bill Monroe hit the stage, I never heard anything as powerful in my life,” said Merriam, recalling the day he met the great-grandfather of this most American of American musical genres.

“I found myself outside [Monroe’s] bus,” Merriam continued. “I ran into him pretty much by accident. I told him how much his playing meant to me. He saw I had a mandolin strapped on my shoulder and he gave me some advice.”

“Get good tone, keep good time and make every note count,” Monroe said.

That was all Merriam needed to hear.

“That’s the entire bluegrass tradition right there,” said Merriam, “It’s what I tell all my students.”

As that summer day unfolded in true “Crossroads” fashion, it’s easy to see that Buddy Merriam did not choose bluegrass—bluegrass chose him.

“I was right at the front of the stage [at the Berkshires festival],” said Merriam. “Later on that evening, this wicked storm blew in. Rain was teeming down. Everyone was heading for cover. But we just hung in there. The music was so powerful.

“The band kept playing. Lightning started touching down. The band finally shut it down. I turned to leave and BAM! Lightning hit me right in the neck.”
Merriam survived, though he suffered severe hearing loss. After a long road of physical rehabilitation, he gradually got his dexterity and his ears back, all en route to mastering the music he quickly came to love, creating his long evolving collective Back Roads and becoming the primary benefactor of bluegrass music on Long Island and in the Northeast.

As a bandleader, songwriter, elite mandolin player and radio host, what Merriam has really been doing for more than 30 years is—note by note—carving his own bust into the Mt. Rushmore of bluegrass greats, next to his idols Monroe and the underrated banjo great, Jerry Garcia.

“I was a big Deadhead!” Merriam exclaimed. “That was my original way into all of this stuff.”

Greg Butler can say the same. The 32-year-old mandolin/guitar player from East Quogue has started chiseling away at that fourth spot on the mountaintop by falling right under Merriam’s wing; first as a student, then as a collaborator.

“Finding out that Jerry played the banjo in Old and in the Way, I started to feel how all of this music is connected,” said Butler as he traced his own “Deadgrass” roots. “‘Dark Star’ was something I remember playing along to, figuring out Jerry’s modal visions.”

In the lessons that Merriam shared with Butler, both could sense a legitimate musical bond. After Butler went his own way for a while in a series of musical and personal explorations of various shades, he eventually circled back to play with Merriam in a more serious way.

image“It seems every time I pick up the mandolin, I learn something new,” explained Butler with his signature joie de vivre. “I can sit for hours at a time and let practicing turn into full enjoyment. I think inspiration is a huge factor in becoming a player. Buddy has inspired me through his kind words and powerful music. He really writes great melodies.”

As the scene’s young gun, Butler is keenly aware that his unique place as a champion of “newgrass” is about more than the playing. “Making every note count,” as Monroe and Merriam preached before him, is not only a musical tenet—it’s a way of life.

“I try to view the world as having a common thread, being human and not taking life for granted. I think I try to make every second count in the world. Also, improvisation is a big part of the music and I think that it helps me react to real life situations.”

As Butler swings, shuffles and shitkicks his way into the musical future, he carries an homage to the past down every road he travels.

“I’m honored and excited to be considered part of this tradition,” said Butler. “I respect the players of the past and learned from them as best as I could. I hope my future is full of mandolin music as well as love. I can only say for sure that it will have tons of melodies, down picks, chromatics, cross picking, triplets, double stops, long tones, arpeggios, slides, octaves, original music and harmonies.”

As for Merriam, that he’s even alive and playing at all is the miracle that sustains him daily. His two-step with fate left him with some scars, but it also made his path crystal clear.

“I have trouble tuning and I can’t really sing,” laughed Merriam. “But I’m doing exactly what I want to do with my life.”

Buddy Merriam gigs with his trio the 2nd Wednesday of every month at Three Village Inn’s Mirabelle Tavern in Stony Brook from 8-10pm. The next two shows will be on February 8 and March 14. He also hosts the weekly Blue Grass Time radio show Wednesday nights on WUSB 90.1 FM in Stony Brook

Bluegrass Today is talking about Buddy's New Book



One might say that becoming a bluegrass virtuoso was simply written in the stars for Buddy Merriam, a mandolinist originally from Hartford, Connecticut. Although he had played guitar since childhood, he became interested in the mandolin after seeing Frank Wakefield perform in 1972, choosing to pick it up as a second instrument. Then, while attending the first Berkshire Mountains Bluegrass Festival in upstate New York, Buddy developed a fascination with the mandolin style of Bill Monroe, after he was unfortunately struck by lightning standing in front of the stage, causing him to lose his hearing. Having lived to tell the tale, Buddy’s hearing eventually came back around and he began studying the techniques employed by Monroe. He eventually formed his own musical group, Buddy Merriam and Back Roads.

Since 1980, Buddy has worked with this group of musicians to spread his own form of bluegrass throughout the country, performing at the Grand Ole Opry on different occasions and even making an appearance at the grand opening of the Bluegrass Museum and Hall of Fame. Buddy has also done more for bluegrass music than merely performing at different venues within the United States and abroad. Besides being the host of WUSB 90.1 FM’s Blue Grass Time radio show in Stony Brook, New York, he has also released a book of some 30 original mandolin tunes entitled Back Roads Mandolin, Vol. 1.

He got the idea for creating Back Roads Mandolin after becoming sick. Fearing death at the time, he realized that his music would be lost unless he were able to pass the songs down to new generations of pickers. Armed with his Monteleone Grand Artist and Gilchrist mandolins at his side, Buddy Merriam has produced over five hundred original tunes which, according to his website, are “presently being transcribed and recorded.”

In this re-release of his first book, he includes tablature (which the first edition lacked) and sheet music for thirty original compositions ranging in scope from pieces highly influenced by Monroe’s playing to other forms of music like gypsy jazz tunes. While most of his pieces are in the 2/4 time signature, which is most familiar to bluegrass musicians, there are also waltzes and hornpipes as well as other compositions which are in the more obscure 4/8, 6/8, and 6/4 times. Some interesting titles include the highly Monroe-esque Back Roads Breakdown, Procrastination, and Gypsy Tears of Joy.

While Merriam and Lou Martin (who did the transcriptions for the book) caution against the use of tablature over standard notation in the book’s introduction, they also state that “standard notation is itself often inadequate to the task of truly accurate representation.” Nevertheless, it’s clear that Back Roads Mandolin has been gone over with a fine tooth comb, as it even includes pick directions and song descriptions where needed in order to help convey the rhythmic feel of each musical piece.

Currently, Merriam is performing with The Mandolin Experience, a group featuring members of his regular band, Back Roads, along with a second mandolin player. He also has six CDs on Lily Pad Records exhibiting his work.

For more information on Buddy Merriam’s music, visit his website, www.buddymerriam.com. If you enjoy Back Roads Mandolin, look for additional volumes which are planned for the near future.

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Mandolin Experience


Buddy Merriam recently brought his new show, The Mandolin Experience, to North Shore Public Library.  His longstanding reputation as a fine musician brought in a large audience that enthusiastically tapped their toes to Buddy's lively tunes.  I whoeheartedly recommend The Mandolin Experience as a concert that will be enjoyed by music lovers of all ages.


Marcia P. Johnson
Adult Program Coordinator
North Shore Public Library
250 Route 25A
Shoreham, NY                 

Join us for a big show coming up March 9 at the BACCA ARTS CENTER in Lindenhurst. See Calendar for more info.                              

Buddy's New Mandolin Book


Re-Release Buddy Merriam's Back Roads Mandolin Volume 1!coverscan.jpg

Now available through our website!

$25 + $3 shipping

LI Bluegrass Festival 2011


Greg Cahill, Buddy Merriam & Back Roads with Danny Knicely & Nate Leath, Foggy Mountain Hilton, Free Grass Union, and more!


Long Island Bluegrass Festival 2010


What a Mighty Day and Mighty time at this years Long island Bluegrass Festival with Bluegrass Legend Frank Wakefield headlining the show and the honor of Back Roads being his back up band!

Frank_with_Band.jpg FW1.jpg

Bluegrass Unlimited Review

Buddy Merriam - Back Roads Mandolin

Buddy Merriam - Back Roads Mandolin

LilyPad Records

It’s not easy to put together a highquality instrumental bluegrass CD, so it’s especially impressive that a regional band, albeit a veteran one, has done such an impressive job. Buddy Merriam, leader and mandolinist with New York’s Buddy Merriam & Back Roads, has assembled a rich and enjoyable collection of original tunes.

“Back Roads Mandolin” hits all the right notes in every sense of the word. The 14 tunes are put together with as much variety in arrangement and instrumentation that you could possible manage, using the same basic core of players. Yet Merriam manages to keep the music rooted in bluegrass while occasionally integrating the influences of gypsy jazz, native American music, and even a touch of polka. Each of the players is given chances to kick off various tunes as well.

Every instrumentalist has a distinctive musical voice. Merriam has a woody tone and a Monroe-esque backbone that comes through, allowing the listener to hear every bit of varnish and wood grain in his mandolin. 

Jerry Oland and his banjo are the relentlessly solid engine that propels each tune. Fiddler Greg Oleyar is more of a chameleon, using overdubbed twin fiddling in some places that hearkens back to the Blue Grass Boys’ sound, while, in other spots, plays with daring imagination. Guitarist Bob Harris is one of those unheralded regional treasures, showing hints of David Grier’s influence, but still manages to create fiery and amazing lead breaks that are uniquely his own. And Ernie Sykes needs no solos on the bass to give a cohesive bottom and drive to the album’s sound.

Greg Cahill’s liner notes are too intriguing to try and summarize, except to say that the story behind Merriam’s musical career and the inspirations behind each tune (further elaborated upon by Merriam in the sleeve notes) are fascinating and memorable. And it says a lot about the quality of this project that the only thing I can find to quibble about is that those same notes are printed quite small for these rapidly aging eyes. But, it’ll be worth your while to dig out your magnifying glass or bifocals, crank up your stereo, computer, iPod, or Victrola, and treat yourself to a tasty collection of original instrumental bluegrass.

Long Island Bluegrass Festival Photos!

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