Guitar, Fiddle & 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 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.