Built on decades of friendship and family ties, mixed with a healthy dose of musical influence and experience…Middleground made their debut on the Western Pennsylvania Bluegrass Music Scene at Clarion River Jam in March 2022.
Since that moment, these 5 musicians have worked collectively to hone their talents and give a more polished performance each and every show. Middleground has appeared onstage more than 20 times in their premiere year, delighting audiences with light-hearted, relatably comical showmanship. Rapidly gaining high regard, they are requested in venues such as: theaters, taverns, ballrooms, and most dear to their hearts: fields full of campers surrounded by Bluegrass Family.
Middleground highlights Bluegrass rooted instrumentation with Southern/Classic Country, Rock and Blues flavored song choices showcasing shared lead/harmony vocals, four lead instruments and a solid rhythmic foundation. Rounding off their vast cover song catalog with band member’s own original material and songs passed down through generations, they are also actively procuring new tunes from industry songwriters for upcoming recording efforts.
In addition to musical artistry, the members have all been undeniably supportive and encouraging in building community at festivals, open jams, gatherings, benefits and anywhere else music is to be shared.
Thankful for the opportunity to play a part in keeping musical traditions alive while creating new opportunities across the tri-state Pennsylvania/Ohio/West Virginia region…we proudly present the members of Middleground
Born into a family with a rich musical history, Zach began playing music at a young age, joining his grandfather and playing at square dances and church events. Introduced to bluegrass music around the age of 11-12, Zach quickly fell in love with the genre, attending as many festivals as possible with his dad and pap.
Throughout middle and high school, Zach played with his family bluegrass band, The Blueboys, which included his dad Doug, his grandfather Bill, his brother John, and his cousin Dan. Despite his passion for music, Zach took an 8-year hiatus from playing to work in the oil and gas industry.
After an unexpected career change led to more free time, Zach rediscovered his love for bluegrass and began playing with local bands such as Homegrown Grass and Rural Free Delivery, while also filling in with other bands. The post-covid era brought the birth of Middleground, a band that Zach is proud to be a part of.
Zach's dedication to his family is evident both in his music and in his personal life. When he's not on stage or in the studio, he enjoys fishing, hunting, and spending time outdoors with his loved ones. He also has a passion for repairing and building instruments, which he views as an extension of his musical artistry.
Through his music and his love for his family, Zach Rearick is a true bluegrass artist, dedicated to preserving the tradition of the genre while also pushing its boundaries in exciting new directions.
The Banjo Bug bit this musician early on in Fayette County, PA. Eric’s dad, Harry, also of the banjo affliction, provided him lessons at home and access to Don Reno records at the young age of 8.
The banjo stayed by Eric’s side throughout high school where he also honed his skills on piano, bass, trombone and tuba in the marching and jazz bands. Brass and Keys allowed him to find cover band work in college where jazz, blues and rock music were his creative focus.
After a 25 year hiatus, Eric was reintroduced to Bluegrass by neighbors (The Rearick family!), picked up the banjo again, and hasn’t looked back! His banjo work is engineered to be supportive of the song and other musicians, while also showing flair and contrast to standards, creating a style to match his unique personality. Quick witted and innately comical, Eric adds dimensions of entertainment to Middleground’s stage show which are genuinely revered by fans and colleagues alike.
Currently, Eric makes his home in Armstrong County, PA with his lovely wife Kerri, Smart Dog Molly and two attack cats, Reno and Scruggs. When not wielding a banjo or sharp humor in public, Eric enjoys chainsaw carving, woodworking, building and flying radio control aircraft and anything that fits in a BBQ grill. (Someone may want to point out that banjos fit in a charcoal grill if you break the neck first)
Ron is a talented mandolin player hailing from Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania. Music has always been a part of Ron's life, growing up with his mom and dad playing instruments around the house. While in high school, Ron played saxophone in the marching band, but it wasn't until 1979 that he picked up the mandolin.
It was Brad Foust who inspired Ron to learn the mandolin, taking the time to give him tips and teach him lots of new things. From there, Ron dove headfirst into the world of bluegrass, and by 1984, he was playing with his family and local bands. Playing with popular regional bands Hidden Drive and Mountain Therapy over the years, Ron has been a mainstay in the local music community.
For Ron, being in Middleground is not only a learning experience but also a teaching one. Having been involved with popular regional bands before, he's enjoying helping the band navigate their beginning stages. He has a great sense of humor and enjoys finding humor in things.
Despite his busy schedule, Ron always makes time for his beautiful wife Lynn and their son and daughter. They're his biggest supporters and his biggest fans. With his passion for music, his dedication to his family, and his sense of humor, Ron is sure to continue making music and bringing joy to those around him.
Mark was born in Punxsutawney, PA and grew up in Erie, PA where he currently resides. He is retired and happily married to his wife Mary, with whom he has two sons named Dana and Mark, as well as three grandsons and three granddaughters.
Mark has been playing music for over 60 years, starting with piano at a young age and later learning to play the trombone and guitar. He played in various local bands throughout his life, including a 70s rock band in his youth and later singing and playing guitar in various churches.
About 12 years ago, Mark discovered the Dobro and fell in love with it after hearing a particularly sweet Dobro intro on a Little Big Town song. He bought an inexpensive square neck Dobro and hasn't looked back since.
Mark has played with a number of bluegrass bands over the years, including Pennsylvania Crude, The Chaingang, Backwoods Bluegrass, and most recently, Middleground Bluegrass. He considers the bluegrass community to be like family and has made many lifelong friends through playing music.
Mark's hobbies include model railroading, riding classic motorcycles, tinkering with his Dobro, camping, and classic cars. He is also grateful for his dad's influence in modeling the importance of practice, buying him his first instrument, and taking him to lessons.
Tricia was born in Vandergrift, PA, and has since settled in Ford City, PA, with her husband Zach and son Waylon. Her love for music started at a young age, learning piano at church and working sound for the praise band for many years.
She was heavily influenced by her father's involvement in music during her childhood. Throughout high school, she played the French horn with the concert band and marching band.
A year ago, Tricia decided to pick up the bass out of a desire to be involved with bluegrass jams and festivals. She has been loving every moment of it ever since. Tricia quickly adapted to playing bass and found a natural talent for it, which allowed her to seamlessly integrate into Middleground and festivals all over the area.
In addition to music, Tricia enjoys spending time with her family in the park. She also has a passion for sewing and quilting, and you may even see some of her handiwork on some of her bandmates' clothing!
Middleground is a collection of kind souls who produce some of the nicest bluegrass ever played at SPEAL'S Tavern. They are as gracious as they are talented! Can't wait to have them back!
Middleground played with the precision of studio musicians and folksy charm of a Kentucky front porch that transported our souls back to an era that’s as old as the establishment that they played in. Just plain excellent!