Bluegrass, Americana and Beyond
From Danville to the DMV
"Welcome to the acoustic world of CityFarm. These Washington, DC area musicians have strong ties to their original hometown of Danville, VA and the band's name originates from those Southside Virginia roots. The name CityFarm refers to the place where parents threatened to send their kids if they didn't walk the straight and narrow. The City Farm is where crimes and misdemeanors turned into prison labor, punishment........you know, workin' for the City! Fortunately, the CityFarm members avoided doing time there which made their parents awfully proud!
Each of the musicians have gone onto successful jobs that range from architect to attorney to computer technical consultant to telecommunications consultant and hydro-environmental scientist. The fact that they all ended up in the Washington D.C. area allowed the players to work their day jobs, stay in touch with each other and jam together in various settings from casual gatherings to holiday parties to chili cook-offs, beach vacations on the Chesapeake Bay and more.
The birth of the CityFarm Band evolved from the break-up of another bluegrass band that left Marcus Haynes "bandless" but with an opportunity to get the other DC Danvillians into a bluegrass fold that would lead to public performances. It was then that the step from casual picking to professional band was enthusiastically made.
In a busy world of work, family and responsibility for numerous activities, the players have dedicated themselves to regular band practices and the quest to tighten their bluegrass sound to lofty heights. No small feat when windows of time are preciously allocated. Arlington, VA resident and banjo player Don Parrish often commutes from his telecommunications business obligations and second home in Ft Lauderdale, FL back to DC for practices and performances. Rockville, MD resident and architect/guitarist Ed Corr and attorney/mandolin/guitarist Paul Mengel of Alexandria are dedicated dads. Maryland resophonic guitarist Fred Smoral's computer consulting occupation often leads to long, unpredictable hours, while still finding time to rehearse. Retired Environmental scientist/bassist Marcus Haynes finds time to thump the bass into the night.
The point is this.......despite so many obligations in so many directions in very limited time frames, the CityFarm players make it work because of their passion for acoustic music and their genuine desire to succeed. Successful workers make successful players.
You will discover that a performance by the CityFarm conveys the essence of acoustic proficiency because of the dedication of each member of the band. Instrumentally and vocally CF holds true to tradition but also transcends those boundaries by exploring other musical genres with seamless accuracy. Stoney Lonesome will cry in his beer on one tune and gloriously succumb to happy feet on the next. The accapella numbers bring a silence to the audience that is deafening affirmation of finely-tuned voices.
Do yourself a favor and see this extraordinary band. Experience the musical elixir that, coupled with the presence of good friends, will propel you into a comfort zone that will keep a smile on your face and your troubles at bay. Sit back, relax and feel the acoustic passion. The CityFarmers feel it and you deserve it."
- John B Updike (CityFarm's Acoustic Realtor)
CityFarm Upcoming Appearances
Check back often; the schedule will be updated as new dates are confirmed
See CityFarm's past gigs below
CityFarm Band Members
Guitar, Mandolin and Vocals
I might have been the only boy who was shipped off to boarding school in 1970 with “Flatt and Scruggs’ Greatest Hits” side-by-side with “Jimi Hendrix’ Greatest Hits” in my 8-track case. Yes, 8-track - that’s how far back we go together, me and my fellow CityFarmers. Actually, a couple of us go back even farther (no, not to 78’s), but that’s another story. I’m not sure why we all got into Bluegrass way back then. I have always loved all types of music (well, there are a couple of current exceptions), but there’s just something about Bluegrass when it’s done right, and if you are into it, you know: the harmonies, the unique blend of the acoustic instruments, the exhilaration and the melancholy, rolled into one, the fact that it draws from the blues and the high lonesome sound of Appalachia… anyway, I digress…
Growing up in southern Virginia in the early 60’s there weren’t a lot of TV choices and I can remember seeing Flatt and Scruggs, Porter Waggoner and Dolly Parton and others on the Roanoke (big-city!) TV channel, in between “Lassie” and “Ed Sullivan”, so I guess I have been hearing the music for a long time. Of course, then came the Beatles, Stones, Dead, Tull, etc., and we all eventually bought instruments. Attended lots of festivals in the 70’s (what were our parents thinking?) - We were the longhairs that got bemused looks from the old-timers, wondering why we were so…happy. Lucky enough to be right there at ringside when Trischka, Grisman, Rice, et al. took our music in a new direction and have been glad to see the masses join in on the fun through The Circle albums, Bonnie and Clyde, Deliverance, etc., and now the likes of O’ Brother and Nickel Creek. As for me, UVA, bartending, law school, The Peptonz r-n-b band in the 80’s and early 90’s, but kept on pickin’ guitar and mandolin with “the boys” through it all.
Now I am, technically speaking, a grown-up, and you have to pay the bills, so I practice law when I must, practice music when I can, live for my kids and keep my mind and ears open…you should too - it’s a good time to be an acoustic music fan.
No Depression bi-monthly magazine – Check it out, there’s lots of cool American music out there,
Banjo and Vocals
The musical route taken by Don Parrish to CityFarm is a varied one. He began as a self-taught drummer but quickly migrated to the trumpet which he played throughout junior and senior high school. In the late 60’s and early 70’s he often played in “old man” bands that played big band music at country club parties, wedding receptions and the like (it was during this period that developed a taste for malt beverages which were often provided by his elder bandmates).
The most inspiring musician and mentor of his life was his brother, George, who passed away a few years ago after almost 40 years in the music business. Don often played with George in Danville groups of the 60’s and 70’s, including the Soul Masters and City Council. In these early years his varied experiences included being a member of the Duke University Symphonic Orchestra and playing in regional back-up bands for touring musicians such as James Brown, Sam & Dave, Arthur Conley and Joe Simon.
Don's early influences included the Motown sound, Otis Redding, Chicago , 3 Dog Night, and R&B. His love for bluegrass began in the early 70's when he would join Fred and Paul at bluegrass festivals. Years later when they all had moved to the Washington Metropolitan area they would jam together. The trio needed some diversity in instrumentation so Don bought a banjo and chord book. For a number of years while living on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands he dabbled in country & western as a member of the Outlaws in Paradise. Don now concentrates on the bluegrass genre with CityFarm.
Bass and Vocals
Also, hailing from the “Big D”, now fully retired, still living at Lake Jackson in Prince William Co., VA. Always up for sitting in, filling in, and jumping in. Have Bass, will travel. Let’s play.
Influences: Charlie Haden, Barry Bales, Bryon House, Mike Bub, Mark Shatz, Todd Phillips, Roy Huskey, Jr., Bob Moore, Bill Bryson, Marshall Wilborn, Wayne Taylor.
I truly appreciate the CityFarm fans and family. Thanks for the love. Greatest feeling on earth, is sharing music, laughter and good times with the talented guys in this band.
Remember to support the venues that keep live music live, as well as one another.
I like the IBMA, the CBA, Shankstrings, Fishman, and Fretwell Bass.
Guitar and Vocals
Born in Danville, VA and lived there learning guitar in high school in the ‘70s playing mostly bluegrass and folk songs. He left for Va Tech, where he majored in architecture in 1982. During high school and college days, Ed attended many bluegrass festivals in Carolina and southern Virginia area – festivals were a great opportunity to jam with friends and strangers, all coming together around music. When not listening to bluegrass favorites like Norman Blake, New Grass Revival, Ed favored Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, John Hiatt, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Frank Zappa - mostly singer songwriters. Lost touch with playing music much of the ‘80s but rekindled his interest in the early ‘90s with a DC metro area band Ed played in called Anxious Hands that played blues, rock and original tunes. Ed is married with three children and resides in Rockville, MD.
For Ed, music has always been inspiring – whether listening or performing. The power of music is real and touches all people in special ways. He enjoys playing with City Farm, learning from good friends, playing as a band and just spending time playing the old ones and learning the new ones. City Farm has brought people, old friends and new friends, together. There is nothing much better than looking out and seeing the crowd listening, smiling, singing along and all together, enjoying the moment. Offering a personal original tune is an honor and opportunity to share a personal song, interpreted and grown by the band.
Resophonic Guitar and Vocals
Fred first started listening to and playing bluegrass in the early 70's. He got the bluegrass bug after hearing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1972 and started attending various Bluegrass and Music Festivals. His first bluegrass festival was just down the road from the Big "D" in Camp Springs, NC hosted by Carlton Haney, then came Union Grove, Galax, Stompin 76 and Berryville. After moving to Maryland in late 70's to work in the Electronics industry, He continued jam with the Danville Boys who had moved to the DC area (later to become the CityFarm). Around 1984, He joined the "The Orchard Boy's" Bluegrass Band. They recorded two CD’s, “Bringing it Back” in 2002 and “I don’t miss trains” in 2006. The Orchard Boys disbanded in 2008. Fred also plays with the Copper Canyon Bluegrass out of West Virginia and the Pickdup Band out of Frederick, Maryland. Fred is married and resides in Urbana, MD.
Favorite Artists: Uncle Josh Graves, Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas, Rob Ickes, Andy Hall and Josh Swift
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