The four musicians who comprise Brewflies have been playing, performing, arranging and recording traditional and contemporary acoustic music for three decades. All have played in award-winning bluegrass bands, appearing with Tony Trishka, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, The New Grass Revival, Oscar Brand, The Pogues, the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, David Grisman, and Kid Creole and the Coconuts.
Larry and Billy were key figures in the old-time/bluegrass music scene in the New York Metropolitan region from the 1980s into the early 90s, organizing several bands, hosting bluegrass festivals in Queens and Long Island, and opening a number of venues in a vibrant traditional music circuit. Their band, Jumbo String Band, headed festivals in Switzerland, Scotland, Germany, and England.
Jeff, an award-winning frailing-style banjoist, headed a number of bands that combined bluegrass with Brazilian-flavored jazz, specializing in a mandolin style influenced by Sam Bush and David Grisman.
Kirsti is a singer/songwriter and singer living in Woodstock, NY. She is also a member of the harmonic-overtone choir, "Prana". Kirsti's most recent release, "The Summer I Stopped Whining", was released under the title "Little Green Blackbird".
Larry Brittain - guitar, vocals
Billy Clockel - bass, vocals
Kirsti Gholson - vocals
Jeff Schmich - mandolin, banjo, vocals
Brewflies’ first CD release, On the Fly, showcases many of the styles the band has incorporated into its unique sound. After several years of quiet experimentation in home studios with the aim of shifting from a six-piece bluegrass band to a three-piece acoustic ensemble, Brewflies decided to team up with New York area musicians of equally eclectic backgrounds and, with only a minimally sketched-in arrangement and virtually no rehearsal, see what would result.
Recorded in Woodstock, NY, and New York City (Mark Dan, Engineer / Mark Dann’s Studios) over a period of 18 months, the album features Grammy-award winners banjoist Bill Keith (pioneer of the “Keith-style” melodic banjo style) and fiddler Lisa Gutkin (Klezmatics and Whirligig). Cellist Mark Murphy, drummer Dan Hickey, keyboardists Joshua Pearl and Mike Mindell, guitarist Dave Mason, and supporting vocals from Woodstock natives Kirsti Gholson and Bar Scott, Jim Coleman, and Carl MaultsBy’s Rejoicensemble appear on various tracks.
Brewflies' second release, Hard Travelin', expands both the boundary and direction of the music. The band invited Kirsti Gholson to contribute now as a band member, and banjo virtuoso Dan Levy plays and sings on virtually every track. Dan has been playing banjo for over 20 years and has developed a versatility over that time that compliments the Brewflies diverse repertoire. Dan can play the traditional style or breakout into jazzy and swing modes. The diversity and talent Kirsti and Dan bring creates music that pushes Brewflies to a new cutting edge Americana sound.
Again recorded in Woodstock, NY, and New York City (Mark Dan, Engineer / Mark Dann’s Studios), the album includes talented support from a number of musicians: Grammy-award winning fiddle Lisa Gutkin, and fiddlers Gary Oleyar and Larry Packer, drummer Dan Hickey, Keyboardists Keith Slattery and "Professor" Louie Hurwitz, Concertina Jody Kruskal, guitarist Dave Mason and dobro Jimmy Heffernan.
Brewflies’ third and latest LP release, Rain Down Mercy, expands further on the approach and style of the band’s past recordings, relying even more on “Americana” and folk-rock influences. The recording’s central theme and song selections are shaped primarily by the struggles and separations of the early 2020s: Covid, election denial, war, racial animus, injustice, and insurrection. The result is a collection of tunes that reflect the frustrations, isolations, awe, and hope of the time.
Recorded by necessity in the isolation of each musician's home studio, the band and a concentrated team of supporting musician friends and guests, though separated, worked steadfastly on a shared goal over a two-year effort. The process generally began with Larry and Billy laying down tracks, syncing them, and then passing them onto the others. Once the full tracks were completed, the process then relied more than ever on Mark Dann’s mixing skills. Only two songs in this LP were recorded in full in Mark’s studIo: “The Rumor” and “I Ain’t Got No Home.” The supporting cast here includes repeat collaborators Lisa Gutkin, Professor Louie, Gary Oleyar, Dan Hickey, Josh Pearl, and Jimmy Heffernan. New to the lineup is Miss Marie who sings back-up harmonies on "Johnny 99," and E'lissa Jones who both sings on a number of songs on the release and contributes a sensitive cello on the album’s first single, “My Life.” Brewflies are also privileged to have legendary banjoist Tony Trischka contribute to two tunes. Finally, an additional special thanks to Mark Dann who did a masterful job in taking all the various home recordings and shaping the songs into a cohesive musical offering.