The Bluegrass Characters were brought together in 2011 by the legendary Grammy-winning fiddler and Dobroist Stacy Phillips, and led by him until his untimely death in 2018. They continue to champion Stacy’s mission of bringing authentic vintage Bluegrass music to northern urban audiences.
The Bluegrass Characters deliver straight-ahead traditional mountain-style Bluegrass with soaring vocals and hard-driving instrumentals, following the recipe laid down by Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers, and other pioneers of the genre. Longtime veterans of the New England Bluegrass music scene Phil Zimmerman (mandolin), Andy Bromage (guitar), Rick Brodsky (bass), and Pete Kelly (banjo) form the core of The Bluegrass Characters. The brilliant young fiddler Sofia Chiarandini completes the current lineup.
Mandolin & vocals
Phil Zimmerman developed his instrumentalist chops as a solo performer at the University of Rochester, and has won regional contests for bluegrass and clawhammer banjo, guitar and mandolin. He’s a founding member of Connecticut’s ground-breaking eclectic string band, Last Fair Deal, now in its 46th year, and a former member of Traver Hollow, Heroes of Tradition (with Stacy Phillips) and Phil Rosenthal and Bluegrass Union. Since 2011 he’s been a core member of the hard-driving Bluegrass Characters. Phil was Music Director of Mandolin Camp North and Banjo Camp North from 2007 to 2018 and President from 2015 to May 2018. He has been on the faculty of Bluegrass University at Podunk, Jenny Brook, and Thomas Point Bluegrass Festivals, and has taught at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival every year since 2006.
Guitar and Vocals
Andy Bromage cut his musical teeth as a college student in the Colorado bluegrass scene, playing banjo with the celebrated young traditional band Limberjack County. He has performed throughout New England with Phil Rosenthal's family band, Bob Degree and the Bluegrass Storm, and with members of Breakaway. Andy joined Stacy Phillips and His Bluegrass Characters in 2013, providing rhythm guitar and high tenor vocals.
Bass, Banjo, and Vocals
Pete Kelly has played and taught bluegrass and acoustic music for three decades. As an alumnus of The Dale Ann Bradley Band and Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, his recording credits include the IBMA’s 2006 Instrumental Album of the Year, Michael Cleveland’s Let ‘Er Go, Boys! and Bluegrass Now magazine’s 2006 Album of the Year, Dale Ann Bradley’s Catch Tomorrow. His column for Banjo NewsLetter called “Jimmy Martin Banjo,” explored the playing of many of the great banjo pickers who have been part of Jimmy Martin’s band, the Sunny Mountain Boys. In addition to private lessons, Pete has led workshops at festivals throughout the U.S. and U.K.
Fiddle and vocals
Sofía Chiarandini has been playing violin since age 5, and at age 14 decided to dive into the world of bluegrass. She studied with award winning fiddler Stacy Phillips, and at 17 was accepted to the Berklee College of Music on scholarship.There she has performed as part of the school's American Roots Music Program and her teachers have included Noam Pikelny, Stuart Duncan, Bruce Molsky, Tony Trischka and Matt Glaser. At Berklee she cofounded The Ruta Beggars, an eclectic bluegrass band that has been featured on WGBH radio's “Celtic Sojourn” and on Steve Martin’s Unreal Bluegrass Show. Sofia plays fiddle, upright bass, mandolin, piano, flute, and sings, and has played at major festivals including Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, Freshgrass Music Festival, and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass Ramble.
Rick Brodsky is a multi-instrumentalist who has played within numerous musical genres over the past 35 years. Rick has played bass for Jonathan Edwards, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, The Korey Brodsky Band, and The Sleepy Hollow String Band with Ben Freed and Jon Sholle. Rick is a regular on the Connecticut/New York bluegrass scene and has also played bass for numerous regional bluegrass bands including several with Stacy Phillips. You can hear Rick’s bass playing on Ben Freed’s highly acclaimed banjo albums and more recently on Korey Brodsky’s debut album featured on Sirius Radio. Rick enjoys presenting his “Bluegrass Bass Workout” concepts at Bluegrass University and Jamvember where he shares his ideas about essential bass techniques.