Piper Road Spring Band
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Piper Road Spring Band


Band Americana Bluegrass


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"Playing On: Piper Road Spring Band nears 40"

“If I had ever been here before

I would probably know just what to do, don’t you?

If I had ever been here before on another time around the wheel

I would probably know just how to deal with all of you.”

The lyrics of “Déjà vu,” from another group of graying musicians on tour this summer, seem appropriate as Piper Road Spring Band welcomes back original lead singer and guitarist Barry Riese to its summer lineup and the recording of a new album, “Enjoying the Ride.”

(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )

Crosby, Stills & Nash and Piper Road both “probably know just what to do.” CSN has been together off and on since 1968, with a core group augmented by various musicians. PRSB has been together -- continuously --since 1973, also with changes in personnel.

This year’s version brings back a key element of the original sound that launched the band -- “BlackBarry” Riese’s voice. Fans of the group agree that it is Riese’s voice that made “Kettle Moraine,” their most successful single and album, stand out. They say his voice has a high, lonesome sound similar to that of the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe.

Riese’s history with the band goes back to the beginning. He was drawn to music during a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater ski team trip, and became part of the Fiend’s Club, an electric country rock band.

“Al Byla and Bill Kangaroo were both on the trip, and Al had a guitar along,” Riese recalled. “I thought it was really cool, and I ended up buying a guitar and taking lessons from Al. That’s how I met Bob Mason. Bob invited me to live at their house -- the Fiend’s Club.

“Even after I left school and worked railroads, I’d spend weekends there. ... For a straight kid from Adams-Friendship, this was great! I got to play music with a bunch of hippie musicians.”

As the band cobbled together instruments and 12 to 15 songs, they received what would prove to be an important phone call.

One night in 1973, the jukebox at Mitchell’s Bar, a tavern in Whitewater, broke down. The owner of the bar, a friend of the guys in the band, called them and asked them to play. That night was the debut of Piper Road Spring Band, which was named for the intersection of two roads near their farmhouse -- Piper Road and Cold Springs Road.

Over the next few months, more and more bluegrass was incorporated into the Fiends’ Club shows, until Piper Road became the official band. Though the band was influenced by bluegrass purists such as Bill Monroe and Doc Watson, and the 1972 release of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s album “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” their music was definitely their own, incorporating classical, Irish traditional tunes, folk, blues, country, Western swing, gospel, Dixieland and even the Grateful Dead.

At a glance

Here are some places you can hear Piper Road Spring Band:

-- Thursday: 6:30 p.m., Cravath Lake Park, Whitewater

-- Sept. 15: noon, Fighting Bob Fest, Madison

-- Sept. 15: 7 p.m., Phoenix Park Band Shell, Delavan

Piper Road Spring Band


-- “Piper Road Spring Band,” 1976

-- “Kettle Moraine,” 1977

-- “Piper Road Spring Band Live,” 1980

-- “Live in Wichita,” 1985

-- “Scrapbook,” 1995

-- “Collection, 1976-1986” (includes “Piper Road Spring Band,” “Piper Road Spring Band Live,” “Live in Wichita” and two previously unreleased sessions)

-- “Sparks Fly,” 2000

-- “Breathless,” 2006
- Walworth County Today


Kettle Moraine
Sparks Fly
Collection 1976-1986(2 discs)



Piper Road Spring Band, Piper Road was born into the age of rock & roll with individual backgrounds diverse as classical, cowboy, folk, blues and Dixieland. Influenced by some live performances of Doc Watson and Bill Monroe and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band release of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" in the early 1970's, they put away the electric amps and guitars and developed a unique acoustic/bluegrass style. They never completely abandoned their musical roots and have blended Irish fiddle tunes with American country, big band, novelty and space-aged Grateful Dead inspired jams.

The band continues to swing! With their strong bond of friendship, commitment to quality musicianship and continuing support of a strong fan base, The current Piper Road roster has accumulated over 100 years of experience performing together. Piper Road invites you to join them as their show hits the road in this their 41st year celebrating with a new CD, "Piper Road 40".