Fretwater Bio Ron Cody - leader, 5-string banjo David Miller - acoustic bass, electric bass Frank Varela - electric guitar Keith Mallory - drums, percussion Their music is so different that reviewers, producers and fans cannot describe it's style. Jazz-Grass? Banjo-Fusion? Eclectic-Electric? Regardless of a niche, everyone does agree that the four-man group known as Fretwater serves up a delicious blend of great music. Indeed, Fretwater's music is as fresh and different as each of the tunes they play - tunes that tell stories of life. And what stories the music of Fretwater can tell! Stories like: "Ryan's Waltz," a tune capturing the joy of a new father; "Silver Bear," a celebration of a friend's son winning his 'Silver Bear' cub scout badge, or "Muffin," written minutes after a motorcycle ride on a brisk New England day. In fact, one of the group's tunes, "It Happened So Fast," will be featured as part of the soundtrack for the movie, Against The Tide, to be released in 1998. Each piece that Fretwater plays is a celebration of the simple joys of life, created by a group of musicians who are masters of their art. "Music is my driving force," says Fretwater's founder and leader, Ron Cody. Cody studied with one of the top banjo players in the world, Tony Trischka, who has now produced Fretwater's latest CD. Today, Cody is a banjo virtuoso in his own right and was recently profiled in Banjo Newsletter. An artist endorser for the Deering Banjo Company, he is a professional musician with almost 20 years of experience, and the composer of each tune on the CD. His banjo is the creative conduit behind the musical stories. Cody balances his professional life with that of being a husband and a father of two boys. His life and his music reflect each other. "I hear music all around me as I live my life," he says, quickly adding, "but it is the guys in this band that make those melodies I hear come alive." The other members of Fretwater include: guitarist, Frank Varela; bassist, David Miller; and drummer, Keith Mallory. Each musician adds his talent and background to create the uniqueness of Fretwater's music. • Varela, who studied at Berklee College of Music, is a guitarist influenced by diverse musicians from John Coltrane to Jimi Hendrix. With 30 years experience, he transforms musically to fit the style of each piece. • Miller, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, lays down the foundation for the band, supporting the music's harmonies. • Mallory, a professional drummer who has worked with recording artists Roy Clark, Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire, is a self-professed "road dog," who has traveled the world teaching and performing. Together, the musicians listen to the melodies by Cody and arrange their own parts to create each song. "None of the tunes are ever really finished," explains Miller. "The music is constantly being updated, picking up changes as we change ourselves." And that, he says, is what makes the music so fresh. "It changes from performance to performance." Mallory agrees. "Our tunes are not three-chord wonders," he says. "I still enjoy listening to it - weekly. The music is personal. When we play together, it's like putting on an old pair of shoes. We play for each other and the listeners. It's a hoot! Pure joy." Formed in 1992, Fretwater quickly established itself in the local community of Hartford, Connecticut, and was soon playing to standing-ovation crowds at venues throughout New England. With the 1997 release of their second CD, Balance, Fretwater is creating a niche in the musical world - no matter what style they play.