Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection
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.
Matt Shipman currently resides in Portland, ME and is a performer and teacher of acoustic and traditional music. 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.
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 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 Limerick Maine, Read is proud to be a member of Erica Brown’s band the Bluegrass Connection. And as of February 2005, will also be a proud father.