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About Us

Freshwater is exciting Bluegrass music!

Drawing from a broad spectrum of musical styles and influences, the band consists of an outstanding muliti instrumentalist who always had an appreciation for Bluegrass but never found the right musicians to play it with until now; 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 two lifelong Bluegrass fanatics--one of whom is a Wisconsin Hall-of-Fame Track Coach and computer wizard, and the other a multitalented solo performer and healthcare professional.

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

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

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 their two cocker spaniels, Chester and Emma.

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.

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.

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.

 
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