Hickory Ridge was originally formed in 2002, when Brian Brewer teamed up with a group of like-minded musicians to create a hard-driving traditional bluegrass band. An initial focus on equal parts skillful instrumentation and tight harmonies led Hickory Ridge to become known for their innovative arrangements of old standards as well as lesser-known material. The band then began to work with independent songwriters, developing new works to expand Hickory Ridge’s already impressive repertoire.
This formula propelled Hickory Ridge to become one of the region’s most respected bluegrass acts. In addition to releasing four albums, the band performed at a myriad of local venues and festivals, including the Chrysalis Vineyards Wine & Bluegrass Festival, the Conococheague Bluegrass Festival, and the iconic Tiffany Tavern. They also toured further afield, showcasing at the IBMA World of Bluegrass conference and the Cabin Fever Pickin' Party.
In 2011, tragedy struck the band with the death of long-time mandolin player and vocalist, Mike MacDonald. Mike’s unexpected passing was a devastating blow to the band, leading the remaining members of Hickory Ridge to take a break, work on other projects, and find a way to carry on without their beloved friend and colleague.
In early 2013, Brian, along with former Hickory Ridge band-mates Jimmy Fitch and Ron Rice, joined forces with the father-daughter team of Stan Connelly and Bobbie McLaughlin. Bobbie’s glorious voice combines with the impressive instrumental and vocal abilities of the rest of the band to create a distinctive musical experience. The new Hickory Ridge brings a fresh approach to traditional bluegrass, while continuing the proud tradition of bluegrass virtuosity that has been their hallmark for over a decade.
First introduced to bluegrass by his banjo-playing brother, Stan Connelly has been playing for over 30 years. Prior to joining Hickory Ridge, he played mandolin and guitar with Braddock Junction and Stoney Creek. Stan’s easy rapport with the audience is his trademark. Gregarious to the core, Stan would love to meet everyone that comes to see Hickory Ridge play.
Ron Rice started out playing guitar and switched to bass sometime during his 40-year musical career. Over the years, Ron has played in a number of bands, including South Central Bluegrass, Bailey’s Crossing, Shiloh Ridge, and The In Crowd. He’s been a member of Hickory Ridge since 2009. While he loves meeting people and watching them enjoy the music, Ron especially treasures the friendships that he has built while playing bluegrass.
One of the founding members of Hickory Ridge, Brian Brewer has been playing guitar since he was 5 years old. He also plays mandolin, bass, and banjo. In his long career, he has performed with a number of bands, including the Hearthstone Mountain Boys, Bluegrass Image, Jay Armsworthy and the Eastern Tradition, Roadside Cafe, Ernie Bradley and Grassy Ridge, and Mountain Ride. He has recently added teaching to his musical resume, as well.
Bobbie was born into bluegrass music, as both of her parents are accomplished musicians. She has sung with Braddock Junction, been tapped to sing the national anthem by the U.S. Hot Rod Association, and had the opportunity to sing with Alison Krauss and Ralph Stanley II. A woman of many talents, Bobbie is also fluent in American Sign Language. She loves spending time with her family, including her father, Stan Connelly, husband James and son, Waylon.
Jimmy started out playing guitar with his dad's band 34 years ago. Since then, he's come a long way, playing with Southbound, The New Connection Band, Bluetown, as wells a being an early member of Hickory Ridge. In addition, he's also had the opportunity to play some gigs with the Jerry McCoury Band. A winner of multiple banjo competitions, Jimmy especially loves playing with this group of gifted pickers and vocalists.
Mark has been playing the resophonic guitar for nearly 40 years. He's played with several different bands in the tri-state area. A member of Hickory Ridge in its earlier days, Mark is happy to return to the band. His skill with the "dobro," along with his great vocals, are a tremendous asset, as is his easygoing manner.