HVBA Member Band Spotlight: Bees in the Barn!

by David Chernack

This week marks the second in the HVBA’s Member Band Spotlight Series, where we shine the spotlight on our wonderful local member bands in the Hudson Valley! This week we’re taking a look at the Beacon-based powerhouse that is, Bees in the Barn!

Founded in 2017, Bees in the Barn has made its name playing the high-energy, complex, and genre-bending instrumental compositions of founder and mandolinist August Eriksmoen. When they met, “we were just playing a lot of traditional bluegrass, then we started learning a bunch of stuff from Grisman, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Matt Flinner, Punch Brothers, etc.,” says Eriksmoen. “We loved playing the newgrass and more compositional stuff in addition to the traditional stuff. We all have so many genres of influence, that we wanted to start writing stuff
that just allowed anything and everything creep in, even though it’s heavily centered around a bluegrass template.”

Eriksmoen is a producer, composer, and arranger by trade, and was quick to record some of their fantastic compositions. “We dove into our own compositions for a while and put an album out in 2020…” why does that year sound so familiar? “…right before the shutdown. Typical musician luck, right?!”

Bees in the Barn has performed twice for the HVBA—once in summer 2021 during our outdoor concert series and again in fall 2023 back at the Unitarian Fellowship. They’ll be performing for us again to close out our 2024 concert series, once again at the Fellowship. “The May 10th concert is going to be super fun. We’ll be debuting a couple new compositions and playing a lotta bluegrass favorites. We’re going to take requests in the moment, have surprise guests, and give out prizes. Lots of audience participation at this one! The HVBA concert has been a BIG highlight for us the last couple years, so we’re pretty amp’d up for it!” If you’ve got a request for the Bees to play at the show, put it in the comments section below!

Mandolinist August Eriksmoen, a Grammy nominated producer, Tony nominated orchestrator, as well as twice nominated for the Drama Desk Award, and is a recipient of London’s Olivier Award. He has toured all over the country as a multi-instrumentalist and conductor.

Violinist Sara Milonovich is a highly sought-after side person in the bluegrass, folk, rock, Americana, and Celtic music worlds. She has performed and recorded throughout the Americas and Europe, with such artists as Richard Shindell, Pete Seeger (including on his Grammy winning album “At 89”), Eliza Gilkyson, Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, and NY string band Mountain Quickstep. As a singer-songwriter, she leads the alt-country band, Daisycutter.

Guitarist Jordan Shapiro is a 20 year veteran of the New York area bluegrass scene, and is known for his eclectic endeavors and command of many instruments. His bluegrass band “Astrograss” is extremely active in the NYC bluegrass scene, having released 3 albums, and performs yearly at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival.

Bassist Nate Allen has toured across the United States and Europe, having recorded with various artists including Peter Karp and Sue Foley, the Kristijan Krajčan Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, Nicole Hart, Black Gold, Friend Roulette, Scott Barkan, The Fine Machines, Illumntr, and Crooks and Perverts. Today, he plays in a variety of groups ranging in styles including blues, jazz, rock, folk, pop, soul, roots, and fusion.

David Chernack

David Chernack is a fiddler, mandolinist, and guitarist from the Hudson Valley. Trained as a classical violist, David found out about bluegrass music in high school and despite his best efforts has been unable to kick the habit in adulthood. He picked up mandolin and guitar in college in Boston, where he studied environmental science and music. While not at his day job or pickin' 'grass, David also enjoys birdwatching and wrenching on cars.

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