Paul Cathcart, our fearless leader, was born in Massachusetts, but spent most of his adult life in Virginia. His love of Bluegrass music was inspired 30 years ago by his close friend Jim Hughes, a native of Nashville, TN and Mr. Arnet Gutshall, a bluegrass music legend, who lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of VA. He was also inspired by Guitar Legends and singers, Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton, Ben Clark, Keith Garrett, and Josh Williams.
Sofia Chiarandini has been playing violin since age five, and at age fourteen decided to dive into the world of bluegrass. She has performed on the main stages of bluegrass festivals such as Grey Fox, Ossipee, Joe Val, and Freshgrass. Sofía attends the Berklee College of Music where she has performed as part of the American Roots Music Program and has co-founded her bluegrass band, The Ruta Beggars, who recently released a self-titled EP and were the winners of the 2019 Thomas Point Beach band competition.
Bill Hamilton comes to the Sandy Ridge Boys by way of his background and passion for playing bluegrass mandolin. Having grown up in Maryland as a reluctant student of the classical violin, Bill’s ear and interest always gravitated toward the pulse, drive and accessibility of more traditional fiddle styles. His musical journey with rock and roll in his high school and college years brought him to the music of Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, which served as Bill’s gateway to the mandolin, bluegrass and old time music. Now a resident of the Boston area, he works on an ecomusicology project that explores the ecological history of the woods used in the construction of classic bluegrass and old-time instruments.
Neil Helme, who has the biggest beard in the band, is well known in Boston Music Circles and is one of the most talented bass players in the area. He has played with great groups, like the Spring Hill Rounders, the Beantown Buckaroos, Honky Tonk Masquerade, the Demolition String Band, Odessa Rose, & The Smalls. In addition to his musical talent he brings great vocals and his extensive knowledge of bluegrass and country music. And we feature his song “Swimming Hole” in our sets.
Roger Weiss, our dancing banjo player, is known for his hot licks and cool demeanor. His major banjo influences are Earl Scruggs (of course), Eddie Adcock, and Lew London. When he’s not picking banjo at the usual places in Boston, you will probably find him Texas Two-Stepping to some country band.
We are sad to announce that our friend and band mate, Fred, passed away on May 9, 2018. You can read more here.