The versatile combination of traditional acoustic instruments and vocal harmony lends itself equally to high-energy Irish rebel songs and shanties, lively session tunes, and mournful gaelic ballads. Grounded primarily in the folk style of Irish music pioneered by bands such as “The Dubliners”, “Planxty”, and “The Bothy Band”, Portland’s own “Biddy on the Bench” breathes life and authenticity into old standbys of the genre and lesser-known tunes alike. The band approaches each song, each melody, with a passion for the music and sharing it with others.
In the winter of 2013, “Biddy on the Bench” was formed. The original lineup included Kevin Grgurich, Noah Cotter, and Nick Frey. Casey Dyer joined but months following. Some years later, in 2017, Tristan Cormack and Trevor Cormack moved to Portland and rounded out the band. Hailing from Cleveland, Kevin, Nick, Tristan, and Trevor have been playing music together for over a decade. Noah and Casey are Oregon natives and bring with them years of experience performing traditional music. In the beginning of 2019, Nick parted ways with the band to move across the country. To this day, “Biddy” continues on as a 5-peice, delivering traditional music to the masses.Performance highlights:
- 2019 – Portland Highland Games
- 2018 – Galway Bay Celtic Music Feis
- 2018 – Bellingham Irish Festival
- 2018 – Portland Highland Games
- 2018 – Prosser Scottish Fest
- 2018 – S & A Irish Entertainment 2nd Saturday Community Concert
- 2017 – Portland Highland Games
- 2017 – Oregon Renaissance Faire
- 2016 – Yachats Celtic Music Festival
Vocals, Tin Whistle, Guitar
Kevin got his first tin whistle on his eighth birthday and from there on out it was all music. Growing up in Cleveland, life was steeped in Irish American culture. Playing with Respectable Hooligans and Scully all across the greater Cleveland area he earned his chops in pubs, The Cleveland Irish Festival, Lake County Irish Festival and countless other gigs. Opening for bands like Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfetones, The Dublin City Ramblers, The Wolverines and many others he was always encouraged to keep playing. Later playing with Mossy Moran , Kevin had many opportunities to travel and play including a week stint at Ri Ra Pub at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. In 2012 Kevin moved to Portland and shortly after met Noah and Casey and the Clevelanders and Portland lads have been playing since.
Born and raised in the small, rural community of Eagle Creek, Oregon, Noah Cotter has been singing Irish and British folksongs since he was thirteen. Noah’s interest in Irish and Celtic culture, enriched by trips to Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany and his three years as a player on Portland’s hurling team, has given him a deep appreciation of history, language, and dialect that is evident in his performances. During his high school years Noah participated in several notable choral ensembles, including the Oregon Bach Festival’s internationally auditioned Youth Choral Academy and the Pacific Youth Choir’s Chamber Choir, but found himself continually drawn back to his original musical passion and folk roots. In addition to Irish and Old World folk styles, Noah enjoys listening to and performing bluegrass and Appalachian music. Noah is also a skilled artist whose portfolio ranges from oil and graphite portraiture to illuminated manuscripts and murals.
Uilleann Pipes, Tin Whistle
Casey was born and raised in Oregon, and owes his love of music to his parents. Throughout his childhood, his mother felt a deep connection to her Irish roots and had folk musics of all sorts playing in her art studio, and his father played country in his shop. The influence didn’t stop there. One day when Casey was 15, his mother asked if he’d be interested in learning the tin whistle. An enthusiastic “yes” launched him into the world of Irish music. Throughout the years, Casey has performed on instruments of all shapes and sizes, jumping into each challenge with a passion. In high school he played around Portland with a student band ran by the great teacher Jan DeWeese. From there, Casey performed with many musicians throughout college and beyond. In the summer of 2014, he met the original members of Biddy on the Bench at a music jam party. Casey joined the bench soon after.
Tristan first stepped into the world of music as an electric bass player, merely noodling about with his musically-inclined brothers and cousins before properly gigging around his native northeast Ohio with Kevin and Nick in various iterations of what was once known as Respectable Hooligans, the very local, hardly-famous, and too-often- too-large pub band. Toughened from years of facing pub patrons asking how a child snuck into a bar, Tristan transitioned to bouzouki and accordion at the end of his highschool days and began focusing on the traditional dance music of various Celtic nations. He moved to Athens in the southeast corner of the state, earning his bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Ohio University. It was during his time in that fine town nestled among the Appalachian foothills that Tristan began seriously honing his skills playing venues with old-timey, bluegrass, and Irish musicians alike, including at the much-missed weekly session at Jackie O’s Brewpub. In January 2017, he moved to Portland to join the then four-piece Biddy on the Bench. Tristan dabbles in lutherie, even building the bouzouki he performs with, and hopes to set up a workshop in the near future to get back into the craft. He draws inspiration from a wide-range of genres and enjoys creating music with players of all sorts, from jazz to metal, indie to blues, and everything in between.
Trevor began taking viola lessons when he was 9. His school’s orchestra and teachers immersed him in the world of classical orchestral music while his friends and family ignited his interest in Irish, American Old-Time, and Bluegrass music. Drawing inspiration from the various collaborations of American musicians including Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Mark O’Connor, Tim O’Brien, and Bela Fleck among many others, he began learning how to fiddle and play the mandolin. He went on to study music at Ohio State University earning a Bachelor of Music Education. Trevor has taught Orchestra, General Music, and Beginning Band at public schools in Ohio, Florida, and California respectively. Trevor moved to Portland in early 2017 to rejoin his long-time friends who had formed Biddy on the Bench.