Grassroots Band History


Grassroots 1973.JPG (161111 bytes)he members of  Grassroots have enjoyed playing and singing bluegrass music for over thirty years. The band was formed in 1973 with the line up of Kelvin Fosberry on banjo and harmony vocals, Barry Martyn on mandolin and fiddle, Terry McCarthy on lead and harmony vocals and Ron Nesbitt on bass, lead and harmony vocals.

The band was very active in the mid  1970's playing folk clubs, concerts and at Barn and Square dances with their caller, Howard Marks.  In 1977 the band's line up changed when Terry left the group due to business commitments.

Terry was replaced on guitar by Bob Jamison, an American studying in London, who immediately  fitted in with the group singing both tenor and lead vocals. The late 1970's early 80's were extremely Nashville Fan Fair 1979.JPG (101528 bytes)busy for the band, with success coming in numerous country music competitions and the release of three LP's. Without doubt the high spot for the group was an invitation to represent Great Britain at the 1979 Nashville Fan Fair where they played on both the International and Bluegrass Shows and performed on stage with the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe.

With Bob Jamison returning to America in 1982 the band was largely inactive until when in Gina Richardson1989ivor2.JPG (34970 bytes) Terry McCarthy rejoined. The CD 'Full Circle' released in 1994 confirmed that Grassroots had indeed returned to their roots. On this album as with many gigs in the mid nineties the violinist Ivor Otley joined the band on fiddle. Ivor currently resides in The Republic Of Ireland and can be heard playing with The Coal Porters. Ivor was eventually replaced on fiddle by Gina Richardson, also classically trained, who stayed with the group until the autumn of 2003. Gina is currently a member of Deep River. 

Today some 31 years after its conception the band is still going strong, playing  numerous concerts and festivals both in the U.K. and continental Europe. Their latest CD, released in February 2004, 'The Original And Genuine' consists entirely of original material, written and performed by the band.Dartford_Folk_Club_2004.JPG (212553 bytes)

Since October 2003, Grassroots have been joined by veteran bluegrass virtuoso Rick Townend on fiddle, who although new to the band, brings with him a wealth of experience playing bluegrass music at the highest level.

The Band Members


Kelvin Fosberry

Arguably the best left handed banjo player in the UK. He was a founder member of the Council for the Rehabilitation of Endemic Traditional Instrument Nomads, (CRETIN) and gives workshops at annual general meetings.

Being left handed, he has been forced to build his own banjos. This has enabled him to include other useful technologies, such as flatulence dissipaters, which Terry attests have proved useless. 

Barry Martyn

Barry's smouldering good looks deflect attention from his enormous hands, which flail deftly over the neck of his mandolin. As the band's sound engineer. he is capable of achieving feedback on any sound system in the known universe. Not a vocalist, but the one note he can sing, the band hopes to utilize for harmonies one day. Extremely photogenic, he has been know to wear lipstick in band photo shoots.

Terry McCarthy

The band's front man and tireless organiser. Terry's sense of the unexpected extends from cough sweet supplies to turning up to a gig at least 24 hours from the start with at least 3 guitars. An avid studier of the world's great guitar pickers, he eagerly awaits the day when the band allows him to replace the anchor of his rhythm guitar work with a break or two.

Ron Nesbitt

Exponent of the Nesbitt 'thrap', the only bass player known to have mastered this technique. Ron makes all of the band's outfits, being one of the few plumbers to turned to dressmaking. Among his many impressive achievements in his younger, fitter days, was his reign as Tupperware champion of Woolwich, after managing to keep a bacon sandwich warm and fresh for 72 hours. To quote Terry, "we worked out how he kept it warm, but goodness knows how it stayed fresh!"

Rick Townend

A virtuoso on all the bluegrass instruments, Rick mainly plays the fiddle with Grassroots. He learned to play and sing jazz, classical, folk, bluegrass and old-time American music while at Sevenoaks School, Kent, and formed the UK's first school bluegrass band the Echo Mountain Boys in 1963.

In 2003 Rick Townend was voted by the members of the British Bluegrass Music Association to be in the British Bluegrass Hall of Honour for his work playing and promoting bluegrass music.