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About Us

Freshwater plays exciting Bluegrass and Americana music!

Drawing from a broad spectrum of musical styles and influences, the band consists of a suzuki trained fiddle player who has a down home bluesy voice that mezmerizes audiences; a Harley rider with an appreciation for big bikes and resophonic guitars and four lifelong Bluegrass fanatics--one of whom is a Wisconsin Hall-of-Fame Track Coach and computer wizard, an outstanding a mandolin player who is steeped in the finest traditions of Bluegrass and acoustic music, a
multitalented guitar player, solo performer and healthcare professional, and finally a bass player who also plays guitar, dobro, clawhammer banjo and provides the foundation for Freshwater's unique sound.

Freshwater's got it all! With Bill Garvey on guitar and vocals, Harvey Riekoff on banjo and vocals, Dennis Waltman on Dobro and vocals, Melissa Baccash on fiddle, guitar and vocals, Don Damaschke on mandolin and vocals and Clark Speck on bass, clawhammer banjo and vocals.

From the deepest pools of traditional and contemporary Bluegrass/Americana music to original material, Freshwater is sure to suit the tastes of every discerning listener.

Harvey Riekoff - 5 String Banjo / Vocals

Harvey began playing the guitar in 1963 at the tender age of 16 but didn’t pick up the 5 string banjo until 1968 when he was transfixed at a concert in Madison Wisconsin by the New Lost City Ramblers. After that concert, he was convinced that the 5 string banjo was the instrument that he was destined to play.

A short time later, after attending a Bluegrass Hoppers concert a UW Madison he fell in love with bluegrass music and realized that in order to play it a banjo was purchased.

Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival in 1970 had an enormous impact on him. At that festival he saw Jimmy Martin, Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe, Jim and Jesse, Bill Monroe and the Country Gentlemen. He stayed up for two days straight watching concerts and picking with other musicians until the wee hours of the morning. He was hooked for life.

Harvey has performed with a multitude of bands in his 40 plus years of playing bluegras such as: The Lost River Ramblers (a forerunner to Grass Food and Lodging), Stony Creek, Southern Exposure, The Industrial Valley Rangers and Cream City.

His major banjo influences are JD Crowe, Ralph Stanley, Ron Stewart and Sammy Shelor and he loves straight ahead hard driving Scruggs style banjo playing.

Harvey lives in Racine WI with his wife Sandy and Kirby, their cocker spaniel.

Melissa Baccash - Fiddle/Guitar/Vocalsmel

Thanks to Melissa’s dad; a talented, self-taught bass player who is heavily influenced by Jazz, Blues and Rock, she was raised on a very diverse and eclectic collection of music. While many toddlers listened to Sesame Street, Melissa took to the “oldies” at an early age and grew up listening to artists such as Steely Dan, Muddy Waters, Sting and (much to her mother’s dismay) Led Zeppelin. At age eight, Melissa became fascinated with renowned violinist Mark O’Connor and decided to start playing the violin. In addition to her main instrument, she picked up others throughout the years including piano, mandolin and guitar.  
Melissa first fell in love with Bluegrass music after seeing the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou”. The soundtrack introduced her to the likes of Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss, who then led her to discover many other traditional and modern artists in the genre. Her favorite new find was The Punch Brothers; a progressive-bluegrass band led by mandolin prodigy, Chris Thile. After attending her first of many Punch Brothers’ concerts, she decided to turn her classical violin into a bluegrass fiddle.       
Melissa met banjo player Harvey Riekoff in 2012 while playing a small string of Bluegrass gigs together, along with her dad and other mutual friends. After a hiatus with the group (which she aptly nicknamed “Missy B & The Cranky Cowboys”) due to busy schedules, Harvey invited Melissa to a “jam session” with the Freshwater boys. Honored to learn from and play with the talented musicians in Freshwater, Melissa officially joined the band in 2015.

Bill Garvey - Guitar/Vocals

At age 13, Bill picked up the guitar that a brother brought home and never gave it up.  He has been knee deep in Bluegrass since the early 1970’s when a friend introduced him to the music of the first generation Bluegrass players. He quickly came to appreciate the creativity and brilliance of many of the contemporary Bluegrass and Acoustic players.  

Bill’s day jobs have included working in healthcare as a Registered Nurse and in the pharmaceutical industry. Musically, he has stayed active by performing with a variety of local musicians and bands, as well as keeping up his solo acoustic gig.  

For Bill, Freshwater provides the perfect vehicle to play the fun, driving stuff and find the musical energy of the duets and trios. Bill's soulful Bluegrass voice and precise guitar playing will be an absolute treat for all of our audiences. 

Originally from Appleton and Neenah, WI, Bill and his wife have called Racine their home since 1976. They have 2 adult children.

Dennis Waltman - Resophonic Guitar/Vocals

After some childhood attempts at learning guitar along with his older brother, Dennis immersed himself in fingerstyle guitar and slide guitar studies during the late 1980s at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. With interests in many musical styles he has dabbled in playing mandolin, electric lap steel guitar, non-pedal steel guitar, electric guitar and resophonic guitar.

Following a solid twenty-five years of playing and caterwauling on the back porch of his home for the sheer fun that it brings, Dennis was asked to polish up his vintage Dobro guitar and add some steel-on-string tones to this group. Honored to be involved with the accomplished musicians of Freshwater, he has been concentrating on resophonic guitar playing and occasional lead vocals.

His day job in the motorcycle industry allows him to combine his passion for motorcycling with his livelihood. Dennis makes his home in the township of Norway, Wisconsin and is blessed with a wonderful wife who is incredibly tolerant of his many interests.

Clark Speck - Bass/Clawhammer banjo/Vocals

Clark grew up in middle Tennessee as a teenager.

In the 1960’s he was attracted to folk music and guitars by viewing the ABC show Hootenanny. He was also attracted to Earl Scruggs guitar style while watching the Flatt and Scruggs TV show. He still plays that style of guitar today.

In 2003 Clark formed the band, The Front Porch Boys for which he played guitar and sang lead vocals. In this band was also Wisconsin Bluegrass icon, Lee Lorenze

In 2009 he left the Front Porch Boys and took a job working in a violin and violin supply company.

Clark spends his days when he is not involved with playing music, as a luthier (stringed instrument repairman) with special emphasis on violin family instruments.
Clark is a multi instrumentalist on guitar, claw hammer banjo, dobro and bass. Freshwater is very excited to have an musician of his caliber playing with us.

 

Don Damaschke - Mandolin/Vocalsdon

Many of you may know him from his duties as our sound man up until recently. But Don is a Renaissance Man when it comes to music! He's a great singer and a terrific guitar player. He knows his way around a mandolin and our first few rehearsals together have been inspirational! We can't wait to get on a stage so you can hear our new sound! When he's not brushing up his bluegrass chops, Don plays in an amazing Rock trio, Groove Factor, and on Sundays you can find him at Evangelical United Methodist Church in downtown Racine, directing and performing in their Praise Band.

 
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