About The Plumb Bobs
Plumb Bob Bios
Marcos Levy – Lead and backup vocals / Guitar / Keyboard
I started playing music in a little apartment in Brooklyn, NY. I sat on the lap of my grandma Jo, in 1973, while she played and sung piano music from the 1920’s and before. At home, my mother’s record collection was full of Broadway musicals. My sister and I did a couple of duets from those musicals for camp talent shows. Mom helped us with the staging.
When I was nine, my grandmother said she was giving us her piano. I started lessons that month. I walked to my lessons through the rough streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I carried music books in a tattered plastic shopping bag. I got to my lessons early to let my hands warm from the cold. I was eager but lacked discipline. I was nine, after all! My piano teacher knew I wouldn’t go the strict classical route. She introduced me to chords and popular music. She gave me the skills to play accompaniment to any song I wanted to. She introduced me to a world of music theory.
I did musical theater in Middle and High School. I am grateful for the friends I still have from those experiences, but I didn’t have the fearlessness I needed to break out as a performer back then. That would come when I took a summer job in Washington State at a YMCA camp in 1992.
I met my good friend and songwriter Jay Glick. He started me on guitar, and encouraged me to play and write songs. Jay had vision. He sung right from where he lived. He called his songs, “Songs of Truth.” He and I went to my first open mic, and we busked for the first time at Pike’s Market. I bought a tape deck (look it up!) so we could record and overdub tracks together. (I have the tapes somewhere…wonder how they sound…) In any case, I was hooked.
My father encouraged me to get my first guitar, a gorgeously simple Seagull S6 from Manny’s Music Manhattan. My guitar and I travelled back to Washington and then back to the still rough streets of New York City. I played that guitar wherever I could. Later that year, it was smashed through a hydrant by a street person who was not impressed with me or my playing. I must admit that I played a part in the incident. I was a lot more wound up in my youth. It was becoming clear that city life was not helping my growth as a person. A change was in order. I needed to find a path for my life. I moved to Vermont.
I spent my first year in Vermont “getting it together.” I borrowed a classical guitar and began working my skills. There were many opportunities to sing and play with other folks at social gatherings. I even went back home to pick up my busted guitar.
I heard tell of this Turkish engineer/philosopher/banjo and fiddle player/builder and repairer of instruments. He just so happened to live in the same small town I landed in. I went to see Ahmet Baycu up in the north side of Shrewsbury Vermont. “This is what we’re going to do, Chief. We’re going to pull the back off. I have this Mahogany here that will be perfect for the back. It will sound better than when you got it. Not to worry.”
Within a year I got involved in my first group, and informal weekly get together. Mary Barron was in that band too! For a brief moment we were called “The Flowering Broccoli” with Mike and Kathy Luzader. We then became “Monday (or Thursday) night Jam.” playing fiddle tunes. We almost became “The Plumb Bobs” back in 1998, but we went with “Cold River Band.”
I joined Extra Stout — Vermont’s Premiere Irish Band — along with Mary 1997, where I continue to learn a lot from band founder, Pat Max. He taught me that practicing is only part of it. You have to put yourself out there in front of people as often as you can. Don’t wait until you are ready. You will get ready by doing it.
I met Jonathan when he joined Extra Stout some 12 or more years ago. I had already switched to playing my Martin guitar, but as fate would have it, Jonathan brought his Seagull S6.
I have had the fortune of playing with Cold River Band, subbing for The Saltash Serenaders, subbing for The Turkey Mountain Window Smashers, Extra Stout, George’s Back Pocket, The Muddy Rhodes Blues Band, The Shrewsbury Community Blues band, Salt River Revue.
I also enjoy a weekly session at Pierce’s Store on Thursday Mornings. We get together and play whatever songs come to mind. That’s where I really met Aaron Schneider, bassist of the Plumb Bobs. He and I play with the Blues band as well.
I love playing with The Plumb Bobs. It is not just a dream come true. It is a dream that I didn’t even know I had when I was growing up.
Jonathan Czar – Lead and Backup Vocals, Electric Guitar, Mandolin, Keyboard
I began playing guitar when I was a freshman in high school. Coming from a family of classical musicians, I would have never asked if I could learn guitar, especially ELECTRIC guitar. I’m thankful that my mother had a keen insight into my personality and one day, out of the blue, turned to me and asked if I would like to learn. My first guitar was a Kay/Old Kraftsman electric that I bought off a friend (yes, spelled with a “K” – get it?). How I wish I still had it – have you seen what they go for on eBay?!? I got a collection of self-teaching books and learned in secret hoping nobody would find out I could play. I wasn’t driven by the usual reasons people pick up a guitar for the first time (attention, fame, girls, etc.). It was the solace that I felt when I would close the door to my room and play the songs I loved. Nothing in that has changed. Driven by a true love for music is where it began and that is where it will end. Within that frame, I’ve played with too many bands to count – some worked, most didn’t. Had some great moments on stage and had some real trainwrecks. Fortunately there wasn’t enough of the latter to make me give it up.
Playing with the Plumb Bobs has been and continues to be one of the most unique opportunities. To play with people who can read music and understand theory is a humbling experience. Because I can’t – and don’t. And yet they still let me hang around – maybe because friendship within the band rules over everything. A rehearsal will typically consist of noodling around and throwing a ton of ideas at the wall to see what will stick. Many don’t. Being able to play the ones that do, whether covers or originals, is what has me looking at the time during a gig trying to figure out a way we can fit them all in – and it’s always a disappointment when the ending time comes before we can do just that.
As an additional hobby, I like to build guitars, amps, and effects. I almost always use a personal build on stage and I’m happy to let people check them out – so if you come to a show, just ask. Be warned that I might bore you with the technical details.
Still wish I had that Kay guitar.
Mary Barron – Lead and Backup Vocals, Percussion, Violin, Melodica, Ukulele, Recorder
I grew up surrounded by folk and classical music. As a youngster, I listened to music constantly, often while obsessively reading the album covers or doing pretend ballet all over the living room. I also probably annoyed my family by improvising piano music and sound effects to stories I was making up in my head. I have always felt music as a physical and emotional force. My dream as a child was to play the violin in an orchestra and also to win the Nobel Peace Prize. I do play violin in a community orchestra, and I do what I can to make the world a better place, but so far the Nobel has eluded me.
I started violin lessons in school at age 9, and then took private lessons through high school. But starting to play fiddle tunes when I was living in Boston after college (where I was an art major) was what really turned my musical life around. I am forever grateful to my then-teacher, Ed Pearlman, and the Boston Scottish Fiddle Club for showing me the joy of playing traditional music with others, making me memorize tunes and learn to learn by ear, and giving me so many great tunes to play.
I make my living teaching elementary school music and playing gigs. Teaching has its rewards, but playing music is what feeds my soul, especially when I get to play music with good friends like my fellow Plumb Bobs. Please see Jonathan’s bio for an excellent description of what makes a Plumb Bob rehearsal or gig so fun and satisfying. The Plumb Bobs is the first “rock” band I’ve been in, the first time I’ve been the band melodica player or percussionist (besides my turns on the spoons when playing with Extra Stout), and the first time I have been called “the Swiss Army Knife of the band.” I enjoy this position, which never has a dull moment. Sure, I’ll try melodica on a Pink Floyd song! Why not?
In other parts of my life, I sing with a world music chorus (House Blend), co-direct the Rutland-area hospice chorus (Trillium), and perform occasionally as a dancer with the group Vital Spark North. I also like to hang out with my cats Nellie and Rainbow, and to hike, walk, swim, and bike all over our beautiful state!
Aaron Schneider – Lead and Backup Vocals, Bass Guitar
My mother is responsible for my musical beginnings; she played guitar and sang in the folk style, and also was a keen organizer of “sing alongs”.I got my first guitar at about 10 or so but didn’t progress much until my buddy Dave started taking guitar lessons from my mom. I guess I sort of poached his lessons; that’s pretty much what I still do! I played along with others, then learned some songs of my own. In high school I sang in choir and started playing bass. It seemed easier and the other guitarists were way beyond my abilities. I played in a couple of short lived bands, and would sit in with friends who had a Saturday night bar gig.
I left Alaska where I grew up a couple of times, and finally ended up in Vermont in 96.After settling in Shrewsbury, I played with friends in Brattleboro area, and then finally got to know the locals. Marcos, Greg Miller and I started playing at Pierce’s store on Thursdays, which led to my playing bass in the Shrewsbury Community Blues band, and then to The Plumb Bobs. What a long strange trip it’s been…