Owner & Producer & Technician of recording studio (U-Bin-Pickin).
As a young teen Ed taught himself how to play the guitar. With the help of some friends he eventually played in some bands in the 1970’s and 80’s. He got involved in music such as; Rock, Hard Rock, Country Rock, Old Country, Folk; and at last in the late 80’s got involved in bluegrass music. He started his first bluegrass band called Grassland. Soon after he joined up with the Fox Hill Bluegrass Band, who he had his first record with and got to play on stage with Del McCoury. After a few years went by he started playing with groups like; Out Of The Blue, East Wind, and Past Times. Eventually he went on his own to record some of his own songs on the Looking 4 Directions Album. He had the opportunity to have an old friend, a Nashville recording artist, Travis Wetzel, to record with, as they both have Native American heritage. That recording went so well, Ed did another with him and Ron Trotta as well called Pickin' Bluegrass. Then Ed had the opportunity tto start this group called the Grassland Band. In this group you can hear Ed singing lead/harmony/vocals, playing guitar, mandolin, and banjo. Like the conductor of an orchestra, Ed loves to arrange songs and come up with new ways to do old songs.
Back in the 1970’s, after hearing the album Will the Circle Be Unbroken, decided to learn how to play the banjo. Living in Brooklyn N.Y. at the time, finding a teacher was not an easy task, but eventually I did. Later moving to N.J. in the early 1990’s, Ron hooked up with a band called “Past Times” with whom he recorded 5 albums. Then he went on to record with his friend Ed Krizni on a few his albums. Which now brings us up to the present of Ron being the hard driving traditional sounding banjo player that he is now. Singing some or writing some; the band wouldn’t be the same without him.
Mark Farrell is a Jackson Heights, Queens native. He has lived on Staten Island, as well as Manhattan, and now makes his home in Hoboken, NJ. Mark is an avid record collector (78’s, 45’s and 33’s). He is most interested in Bluegrass and Old-Time Country records. His vast collection includes some of the selections that will be heard on Grassland’s personal appearances. Mark is most known for his stellar fiddle and mandolin playing, but he plays guitar and bass as well. Mark is a sought after musician, playing in several bands including James Reams and the Barnstormers, Yankee Rebels and Hell’s Kitchen Country. Although he has a day job as a paralegal, evenings and weekends find him playing music. Mark has a deep seated admiration for the early days of Bluegrass, so he is happy that Grassland will be playing older material, as well as newer Bluegrass hits. Mark can sing all the parts, so a Grassland show will find him singing a lot of harmony parts. Mark will also find the spotlight on him, singing lead during a Grassland show.
Allen Cohen has lived a life of Bluegrass music. Yes, he’s a retired pharmacist, Emily’s
husband for 55 years, father of two, grandfather of two, grower of corn and
plum tomatoes, driver of a 1961 Triumph TR3A roadster, past member of Community
Board 3 on Staten Island, NY and home handyman. But Bluegrass has ruled his life since that fateful day in 1959 when he
walked into a record shop on West 8th St. in Greenwich Village, searched the
Folk Music bin looking to buy a new record and found Flatt and Scruggs. A New York Times reviewer described Flatt and
Scruggs as “folk music in overdrive”, and he was right. Since that day, Allen and Emily have attended
folk festivals (Newport, RI and Asheville, NC), Fiddler’s Conventions (Union
Grove, NC, Galax, VA), Bluegrass Festivals in 8 states including the first
Bluegrass Festival on Cantrell’s Horse Farm in Fincastle, VA in 1965. Allen
co-founded the Tri-County Ramblers in 1973 and has played with that group until
the early 2000’s, since then with the Yankee Rebels and now with Grassland. Allen was the driving force behind the
establishment of the Bluegrass Festival at Historic Richmond Town on Staten
Island. Allen produced and was the
talent coordinator, stage manager and emcee for that festival which ran for 11
years (and is currently on hiatus due to lack of funding). But he is most at home, on stage, playing
Bluegrass music and making audiences happy.
Ruth has been singing literally her entire life. Beginning as a small child, and moving on to school choruses, piano lessons, church choirs to bands and solo acts.As a child listening to her accomplished vocalist mother, and to her alto grandmother in church, started her love for harmony where it comes natural to her.
In addition to the five core members, Grassland has the good fortune to have 3 seasoned Bluegrass musicians available to add a sixth (and seventh) piece to the band when the venue or the event requires a six piece band (or larger). The additional instruments would be fiddle and/or Dobro.
Bill has had a long career in Bluegrass music, first hearing it in the early 1960’s. He has been playing the guitar since 1958 and eventually learned to play the banjo, dobro, fiddle, and mandolin as well. Bill has played dobro with the Beth Coleman Band and Uncle Steve Crockett & the Log Cabin Boys, with whom he appeared 6 times on the Grand Ole Opry Stage during the DJ Convention Week in the 1980’s. He has also played dobro with Rhonda Vincent on her NJ concerts. Bill has been a full time musician since 1973 and has toured internationally starting in 1974 with Bill Haley & the Comets, and continuing to this day on his own. With his band Blue Smoke, Bill has played commercial soundtracks for MTV, as well as films. He has appeared as a background actor in movies such as; Birdman, Pickings, and in TV shows, Boardwalk Empire, Golden Boys, Royal Pains, and most recently in Difficult People, and Homeland. During the winter months Bill appears on WDVR Radio’s Heartland Hayride. In the Grassland Band, Bill will play Dobro most often, but may play any other instrument, depending on the song, and adding precision harmony vocals.
With the exception of the fiddle, at any given time and at a moments notice if need be Donny can pick up any bluegrass instrument and play with precision, however, his instrument of choice is the Dobro or as others call it resonator guitar. This instrument, which is not easily mastered, Donny excels at with his almost effortless and smooth-sweet style, delivering a performance that is not easily forgotten. He started playing bluegrass music in the 1960’s and his well valued instrumentation skills are duly respected in the bluegrass community. Donny is an avid vintage instrument collector and is a noted source of authentication of valuable collectable instruments. He is also well versed in Bluegrass history. Donny also lends his skilled baritone and tenor vocals when needed and has performed and recorded with several bluegrass bands.