Review: Buddy Merriam Back Roads Mandolin, Volume Two

By Peter Conklin & Mike Foley

With transcriptions by Lou Martin.

Given my love for Monroe-style music, I jumped at the chance to review Buddy Merriam’s latest book. Buddy’s tunes have always felt to me like an extension of Monroe’s catalog. The book is packed with 32 of his original compositions, along with terrific photos of Buddy with many bluegrass greats and, of course, his mandolins.

The book is exceptionally player-friendly. Unlike many that tend to fall apart after their pages are bent to fit on a music stand, this one has a ring binding and thick, durable paper. It will stand up to repeated use—a real advantage, since it contains enough challenging tunes to keep any mandolin player busy for many hours.

My first task was to narrow the field down to a select few on which to focus. I eventually settled on four: “My Dear Mother’s Waltz,” “DeVine Time,” “Harmony Waltz,” and “Riverhead Polka.” A real plus is the accompanying cd featuring mandolin solo excerpts from Buddy’s recordings. Trying to follow the speed and complexity of Buddy’s playing can be daunting; a program such as Amazing Slowdowner that can reduce the pieces to a more manageable tempo would be most helpful.

“My Dear Mother’s Waltz”

“Harmony Waltz”

“DeVine Time”

I’m looking forward to mastering the tunes I selected to the point where I can bring them to the bimonthly jams. I recommend Buddy’s book to all serious mandolin players who wish to refine their craft and widen their repertoire.

Purchase the book!

Just click on “Buy” from the left hand side section.


Founded in 1994 to knit together the bluegrass community of musicians and fans. The HVBA is chartered as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit arts and educational organization, we promote bluegrass and related acoustic music in the Hudson Valley through jam sessions, concerts, and open mics in conjunction with other not-for-profit organizations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *