Melissa Baccash - Fiddle/Guitar/Vocals
Thanks to Melissa’s dad, a talented, self-taught bass player who is heavily influenced by jazz, blues and rock, she was raised on some of the greatest music ever made. While most toddlers listened to Sesame Street, Melissa would impatiently ask for her parents to “turn on the oldies!” which included Steely Dan, David Sanborn and, much to her mother’s dismay, Led Zeppelin.
She decided to play the classical violin at age eight while listening to a Mark O’Connor album. After high school, she attended Ravencrest Bible School in Estes Park, CO, where she joined the student worship band as a vocalist. Thanks to the encouragement from a fellow band mate, she picked up her first guitar at 19 and taught herself how to play by learning Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens tunes.
Melissa fell in love with bluegrass after seeing the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou”. The soundtrack introduced her to the likes of Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss, which then led her to many other traditional and modern artists in the genre. Her favorite discovery was The Punch Brothers, a progressive-bluegrass band led by mandolin prodigy, Chris Thile. Their sound was unlike anything she’d ever heard and it amazed her that they were roughly her age and masters of their craft. After being blown away at her first Punch Brothers concert, she was inspired to dust off her classical violin and turn it into a 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. The band was aptly named, “Missy B and the Cranky Cowboys”; a handle Melissa came up with due to the light-hearted and hilarious bickering between her band mates during rehearsals. From the day they met, Harvey and Melissa bonded over their similar musical influences and love of whiskey. After a hiatus with 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 continues to eagerly attend weekly rehearsals in preparation for upcoming shows. Especially when those rehearsals end with a nice glass of Harvey’s finest single malt scotch.