Holding Hands with Fire- By Patrick Ross
The Patrick Ross Band is a result of turning pandemic lemons into lemonade, or in this case, crabapples into cider. With a halt in touring and live performances, Ross put all his creative energy into writing and rehearsing songs about life in Vermont. "Uncle Joe's Camp" is inspired by Patrick's childhood memories of growing up on the international waters of Lake Wallace in Canaan, Vermont. Another, "Sugar Shack", is about the hustle and excitement of living in a place with four seasons. "Bear Rock Road" is about his mother's farmer-style school bus driving days. "Woodshed" spins around the idea that we all have that certain place we like to go to get a clear head. There are 18 songs in the new collection.
All three band members call the Upper Valley of Vermont their home. Bassist and trumpet player, Mike Conerty, is a native of Long Island, New York. His urban sophistication brings energy and excitement to the group. Drummer, Chad Brunet, is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. His deep musical wisdom and soulful expression bring power to the stage. Front man, Patrick Ross, plays fiddle, guitars, mandolin, banjo, cello and is the lead vocalist. His Vermont roots run deep in folk traditions. "My mother is Quebecois, my father is Acadian and I'm a fifth generation fiddle player." proclaims Ross. Collectively, The Crew blends harmony vocals in a way that supports the story of each song.
Bring a friend or two, come watch and listen to how these Vermont musicians have been spending their pandemic time honing their craft, and let your soul take in some live music again.
Little Red Camaro (A Love Song)
Patrick Ross: There Is More To His Music Than Just His Fiddle Playing
By Thomas Jordan
Patrick Ross is no stranger to the North Country. Born and raised in the area, one would be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t familiar with Patrick and his history of fiddle playing during his youth, particularly alongside his father, as a fifth-generation fiddle player. And, on Aug. 29, Patrick will be returning to the area for a performance with his newest endeavor: his band, Patrick Ross & the Fiddler’s Crew.
“I’ve never felt more at home with a band than this one, ever,” said Patrick, during an interview with the Colebrook Chronicle this past week. “It’s been a dream of mine to present a band such as this in the township that I grew up in. I was born in Colebrook hospital, so even though I grew up in Canaan and went to Canaan schools, Colebrook is my hometown just as much as Canaan is. So to bring this band to the North Country is a lifelong dream of mine.”
The three-piece group draws from a fascinatingly vast series of influences that have all shaped Patrick during his life. Everything from the Charlie Daniels band, to Led Zeppelin, to Coig, to Green Day, are all among the groups cited by Ross as part of the DNA that make up his group’s sound.
“Charlie Daniels has that southern rock/country with a fiddler in it, and we definitely raise that flag–and then our drummer, Chad Brunet, is right out of New Orleans, Louisiana, so we bring an element of that sort of Cajun/Louisiana Bayou sort of rhythm. And then, the bass and trumpet player, Mike Conerty, is from Long Island, New York, and so we blend in a little bit of that ’90s rock too,” he explained.
“I’m a child of the ’90s. It would be impossible to erase the influence of the FM radio waves growing up. But if I rewind even before the ’90s, the influences of my dad and his comrades when they would get together and play music on the weekends, was very country. Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings.” said Patrick. “Growing up, as a kid, with my father’s influence, which was where country met bluegrass.” He said that, after his father passed away when he was 11, his personal music influences took different turns. “You can’t really turn off the influence spout. Influences find their way in, regardless. So it was just a changing of the chapters.” He looked to the groups his older brother listened to, which ranged from ’70s groups like The Band to then-contemporary grunge and rock groups like Alice in Chains and Nine Inch Nails.
Patrick also drew attention to the Franco-American fiddle tunes that would be played in the logging camps of orthern New Hampshire and Quebec, as one of multiple threads that make up the musical tapestry he displays. “So it’s where that square dances, contra dances, that main vein of fiddle tune intersected with the later Grand Ole Opry, from the 1960s. And how that intersected with my brother’s music, ’70s rock and ’90s grunge. I think of it like a tidal wave, where the top of the wave crests and then hits, and then becomes the bottom of the wave, becomes the top again.” And of his new band, he said, with a chuckle, “It's just this weird mix of traditional-fiddle-player-meets-all-these-other-influences, with a rhythm section that is really solid.”
For those who might be expecting to hear traditional fiddle tunes from Patrick, he notes that this group’s performances add a new flair to the fiddle that he hopes might compel listeners, and expose them to new ideas. “There’s a wide world of music that I can bring that fiddle core to, to give it just a little bit of a twist,” he said. “And it’s fun! I feel really at home with the fiddle, even though I’m not playing fiddle with every single song with this band, I’m playing it with just about every other song.”
The basis for Patrick Ross & the Fiddler’s Crew came from his experience crafting and touring with a one-man show a few years ago. “That really was me getting out there, pounding the pavement, putting my feet to the flame, saying that I’m going to create a 90-minute one-man show, and that’s going to be what I start with. If I can create a 90-minute one-man show that I feel good about, then filling that in with other musicians becomes an option. And that’s what it became with this band. I didn’t need to fill it out with tons of sound, I just needed a good rhythm, a good low end, and that kind of put what I had with the one-man show on wheels, in a way,” he said.
Patrick did roughly 50 of these one-man performances, which he used as a personal learning experience. “When it comes to developing a product, I think it’s important to realize where things don’t work. Without two or three experiences where it didn’t work, I don’t think I’d be where I am with this band. And to know what did work, I feel like I’ve arrived,” he said. “Now, it’s just fine-tuning.”
He added that the full band gives him a comfort and an ease in the live performances. “During the one-man shows, I was nervous as all heck, because it was all on me, it was all on my shoulders. Now, when I do a show with the band, I feel like there’s a smile in my soul, as I go into and arrive to a gig and to a festival.” Added Patrick, “I can lean on them, and they can lean on me, and we have this web of inspiration that we can all feed off of each other, as well as the crowd.”
The trio met at a mid-winter house party in the hills of Newbury, Vt. “We didn’t know any overlapping music, yet we played for four hours. We just jammed, improvised, for four hours, in the middle of winter, huddled around a woodstove.” he said. Patrick left the night invigorated, and several months later, connected with the group, who has since formed a setlist of over two dozen original songs together.
This all coincided with the events of 2020, which Patrick actually said came as a bit of a blessing in disguise for him. “When the pandemic hit, it came at a time for me where I needed a break, physically. I was starting to suffer from repetitive motion strain, and the gigs were lining up,” he said. In-between functioning as a side-person for acts including Chad Hollister, Bow Thayer, and Rusty DeWees, as well as doing his one-man show and teaching lessons, Patrick said he felt he wasn’t giving enough time for his body to recover with physical therapy, and he welcomed the breather.
“And then, fast-forward to September 2020...Chad, the drummer, had been sending me emails, calling me, and I could tell he was interested in collaborating after that mid-winter party we had done. I figured, if he was that interested, and we had that much fun, let’s do this,” Patrick said. During the summer of 2020, he also took an opportunity to try his hand at writing songs. “I came up with an exercise where I’d time myself 20 minutes to write a song, and whatever happened, happened. I wrote six songs like that, and brought them to the band.” He said it didn’t take long for them to iterate on the songs, which further fueled Patrick and opened the door to more songwriting and song development with the group.
With regards to the lessons he gives, Patrick said, as often as he can, he tries to integrate students of his into a show with the band. “As a trio, we cover the spectrum of sound. We have the rhythm, the bass, and the middle with the guitar, and the highs with my voice and the fiddle. It becomes this solid three-legged stool with primary colors that we can plug other musicians into very, very easily. There’s a space for it that we don’t have to work extra hard to create. As a trio, we can fill that space in, or leave it open–because believe it or not, sometimes, leaving a little space is nice. You get to hear the bass, the drums, the guitar. When you start getting into multi-piece bands, a lot of the subtleties get washed over.”
Patrick is thrilled to bring his group to the North Country. With his singing, guitar work, and fiddle work, combined with bass, trumpet, and drums, he said he feels an absolute fulfillment of a long-time desire of his with this band. “Every time I’d play a straight-ahead fiddle gig, I felt like there was a leg missing in a three-legged stool. Deep inside, I felt like there was something that I craved, that I kind of just attributed to ‘Well, this is just an acoustic, folk sound,’ and there’s a place for that, and I love it. But I’ve always dreamed of having a little bit of distortion blended in.” He credited bassist Mike as the ‘brains’ of the band, drummer Chad is the ‘body,’ and his contributions as the ‘soul,’ to make the complete experience that is Patrick Ross & The Fiddler’s Crew.
The group has been performing a concert series on the town common in Newbury, where Patrick said they have received a positive reception from listeners. “The feedback from the community is that they love the mix,” he said. “They don’t really know what’s coming next, and if one song isn’t necessarily their cup of tea, the song after that probably will be. Just wait ‘til the next one.”
For booking inquiries
"Hi Patrick - I just wanted to thank you for the job you did Saturday night! That was the most fun wedding reception that I’ve ever been to - you rocked it! Everyone was talking about you Sunday saying how amazing you were and I just wanted to let you know what a huge part you were of making our weekend a success!!! Looking forward to following you and seeing you live somewhere hopefully this summer!
- July 2021
“If you want the very best, Patrick is the music professional that you need to hire for your wedding. From the very beginning, he was open to all of our suggestions, and even learned a new song for our ceremony processional. Our guests loved when he fiddled along to our music selections during the reception, and would have loved even more! We highly recommend booking him for your event, but do it now, because he’s in very high demand.” The Fryes
– December 28, 2018
“My husband and I knew exactly who we wanted to book for our wedding music from the start and Patrick still went above and beyond our expectations. We hired him with relatively short notice to play during the ceremony and cocktail hour and then DJ the reception. He nailed it and was helpful and responsive at every step along the way.
Patrick is a talented, versatile musician and can adapt to changing circumstances at a moments notice. During the reception, he paid close attention to our requests and was spot-on at sensing the mood of the crowd. A live fiddle-accompanied “Cotton-Eyed Joe” became an instant hit! As the reception was winding down, we lit a bonfire out back and Patrick joined the late-night crowd to serenade us with some acoustic tunes. It was perfect – I would highly recommend Patrick for a super fun and personally tailored wedding music experience!” Alaina M – September 29, 2018
“Patrick was a phenomenal musician and a pleasure to work with. We hired him to play during the ceremony, the cocktail hour (he brought 2 bandmates in for a very reasonable price), and DJ the reception. After asking us for a bit of guidance, Patrick understood exactly what we wanted. He was very thorough in his communication leading up to the wedding, which made the day of the wedding very easy. One highlight was when he played live fiddle along to “Wagon Wheel” during the reception. Patrick also was very helpful coordinating the toasts and sound system and made sure everything ran smoothly.
Emily H – July 2017
“Patrick played at our wedding during spring of 2013. He was easy to work with and exceeded our expectations. Our family and friends continue to rave about Patrick’s talent to this day. Including my husband’s grandfather that passed away this summer. Up until the day he passed, he recalled how Patrick played songs upon request that he recalled from his childhood. The performance meant a lot to us and was able to give a personal touch to our wedding.”
“Just another couple that were as happy as Amber and I were to have Patrick Ross as our Musician/DJ for our wedding. Anyone else in New England getting married this year or next should contact him. We can’t recommend him enough.” – Adam Cloutier 2015
“Patrick played music during the wedding ceremony and dinner for Kristen and me in a very professional way. He was then joined by members of Hot Flannel, and they all put on an amazing performance – our guests danced the night away and told us how much fun the band was – highly recommend him!” – Jonathan Link Logan 2015
“Patrick was a true gem to find to play at our wedding. He came highly recommended by our wedding venue and after we chatted with him and saw a couple of his videos, we booked him! He is incredibly talented (and super humble). Patrick played our ceremony, including playing my requested song, his rendition of “Rise” by Eddie Vedder on violin as I walked down the aisle, and fiddled everyone down the hill to cocktail hour. We also hired a guitar player, a friend of Patrick’s, to play with him for our cocktail hour and then Patrick DJ’d the night away for the reception. It was incredible, but especially when he fiddled along with the music. Our guests on the dance floor were in awe and stopped to watch him in the balcony. Guests came in from the bar to hear him play. It was so magical. Everyone has not stopped talking about how amazing that was. Patrick was one of the most easy going vendors we worked with for our wedding, a true professional and master of the fiddle for sure! Patrick was flexible, and when I had to make the call to have the ceremony outside when it was pouring rain, he was willing to still play outside with an umbrella. We are so happy we selected him and that he was able to work with us. I would highly recommend him!” -Amber C
“Patrick was amazing. We booked him to play live violin/fiddle music during the ceremony and cocktail hour and then DJ during the reception. He played Moon River as the wedding party came out (at my request like a day beforehand, eek!) and Canon in D for the procession. I NEVER thought I wanted a musician at the wedding (thought it was too formal), but it was so perfect for our small, laid back outdoor wedding. He is a musician first-and-foremost, and we basically told him to play whatever he felt like as people were sitting down and as the recessional and during the cocktail hour. People were raving about him. He set up to DJ the wedding and serve as the emcee, which he did well at. Our wedding was super small and all older and family members, and after the first dance the dance floor was abandoned to everyone talking to each other and catching up. He quickly adapted and started a background performance by combining DJ’d music with cleverly-played fiddle “overplaying” accompaniment which was really amazing. It fit the mood perfectly. He then surprised me by meeting us all at the impromptu bonfire and playing as people toasted marshmallows before heading to bed. I couldn’t believe how flexible and seamless he made it. I love that he is a musician who uses this to support himself while pursuing his other musical pursuits, and felt good about supporting a small local business. I was not disappointed, and he made some of the most memorable moments of the night.” -Christine E
“I have had the wonderful pleasure working with Patrick Ross! He is extremely easy to work with and so talented. I’m a wedding coordinator in the NEK and have worked many weddings with him.. alhren barn, chapel on darling hill, etc. He is not only a DJ but a professional musician and provides music for Ceremony, cocktail hour dinner and full service DJ.” – Jennifer Kirchoff Layn
“Just incredible – The title says it all.. we were blown away by Patrick. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, commented on his talent and professionalism. He – is – AWESOME. The price on this review includes his ceremony music & DJing services that lasted from 5:30-midnight!” -Jackie N
"Music is emotion. And as you may have noticed at our wedding, we are a pretty emotional bunch. From the beginning of the ceremony when the children entered the secret garden to the end of the night when us elders gathered around the fire, your music was the perfect complement to the innocence, joy, excitement, and sanctity we felt that day.
Your willingness to learn an Itzhak Perlman song in the 1 week's time is a testament not only to your craft but also to how much you cared about our special day."
"From thinking outside the box on speaker placement to the dancefloor soundcheck Dance Party and then onto a -wonderful- daylong event. Your vibe and many "uniform" changes for all types of music was remarkable. Thank you for all of it!
We do hope to hear more of your performances in the future, and we will of course recommend you at any opportunity we can.
The Kowal Family sings Blue Ridge Mtn. Home
The Kowal Family sings Blue Moon of Kentucky
Part: 1 Featuring 5 year old co-host Ophelia Ross. In the episode Ophelia uses sharp scissors to cut off her Papa's beard.
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