Jim Stone (bass), Gary Pruett (banjo), Joe Thatcher (guitar), Mike Martin (mandolin and fiddle)
The “Backroom Boys” started in 2004 in the one of the backrooms at the Lafayette United Methodist Church, just west of Medina, OH. Joe Thatcher, Gary Pruett and Jon Lee decided one night, after being on the fringe of other jam session groups, to create a group that could play the songs they liked rather than the songs picked by others. The band is about as democratic as it gets. Everyone in the band sings their lead songs and several also sing the harmony parts as well. As the group says it’s “not your ordinary bluegrass”. All the band members bring songs for the group to learn and usually, it’s a consensus to incorporate songs into our play lists. The band does traditional and progressive bluegrass songs. Everything from Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Jimmy Martin to the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Box Tops, Gibson Brothers, J D Crowe, Country Gentlemen, Seldom Scene, Blue Highway, Bob Seger and many more. The band plays every Friday night at the Lafayette United Methodist Church, which has one of the biggest bluegrass jams in Ohio. They also play in several local festivals, venues and private picnics throughout the year. The “boys” come from a wide spectrum of academics and careers from truck driver to chemistry PHD.
Here are the current members of the band:
Mike Martin (Lexington, OH):
Mike started playing guitar at age 12 following later with the banjo, bass, mandolin and fiddle. He first played bluegrass bass in the “Faces Made for Radio” band and then moved to playing mandolin with the band. He was also a member of the “Top Rail” bluegrass band on lead guitar. He became a member of the “Backroom Boys” late in 2012 and plays mandolin and fiddle. Mike, also like all his band mates, sings lead and harmony with the “Backroom Boys”.
Jim Stone (Copley, OH):
Jim started playing the upright bass with the “Backroom Boys” in 2016. Jim has been playing music in one form or another for most of his life (a very long time), and is still learning to play bass and guitar. He has also played with other groups, including the Smokin' Fez Monkeys, doing everything from Jug Band music to Rock and Roll.
Joe Thatcher (Tallmadge, OH):
Joe started playing guitar in 1972, influenced by a close friend at work to play bluegrass. Always having a strong craving for rock’n roll, blues, country and classical and playing coronet and piano as a pre-teen, he decided to get back to playing “something”. Joe sings lead and most of the tenor harmony for the “Backroom Boys” and plays guitar for the band. He created the band along with Gary Pruett and Jon Lee and named the band because they always played in the backroom of the Lafayette United Methodist Church and needed a name to be introduced to the audience.
Gary Pruett (Broadview Heights, OH):
Gary is the banjo man for the “Backroom Boys” and also sings lead and harmony. Gary began his banjo love when 12 years old, but he had no support in his native San Antonio Texas, and opted for folk guitar through high school. Singing lead and harmony in a folk duet, and extensive ear training in harmony vocals in a southern tradition non-instrumental church, gave Gary a keen sensibility for tight vocal arrangements during his pre-adult years. Later he happened onto a banjo and fiddle contest in the mountains above San Diego, rekindling his old love for Earl Scruggs banjo. In the spring of 2000, he took a few lessons from a John Hickman protégé in Los Angeles, started going to local LA jam sessions and jumped into a local band, the Rainwater Bluegrass Band. Later a job change brought him to Ohio, where he soon joined up with his current band partners Jon and Joe to help form the beginnings of the “Backroom Boys”.
Juanita Weaver (Tallmadge, OH):
Juanita is the “Backroom Boys” backup upright bass player, videographer and, most important, Joe’s partner in life. She learned country and bluegrass music from her father, who played guitar with local bands in the Akron, OH area. She started with the banjo and later switched to the upright bass. She learned to play the bass on her own and listening to Marshall Wilborn and Murphy Henry videos. She also drives the “Bluegrass Van” for the local shows to transport players and instruments. She and Joe enjoy traveling with their RV trailer and attending bluegrass festivals.
911 Martindale Drive, Tallmadge, OH 44278, US
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