About the Burr Oak String Band

The Burr Oak String Band offers up a crowd-pleasing mix of lively instrumentals and heart-felt harmonies. Masters of a variety of instruments and styles – old-time, raggy blues, bluegrass, folk – they appeal to a range of musical sensibilities and can perform in a variety of settings, including concerts, festivals and dances. While rooted in the traditions of American Old-time string music, the close harmonies and the interplay of mandolin, guitar, fiddle and clawhammer banjo bring the Burr Oak sound to other musical genera and traditions. In different combinations the members of Burr Oak played together in several old-time or bluegrass bands before we decided to play together in the spring of 2015.

Ann Bova has been performing since age 14. In the 1990s she played bass and sang with guitar virtuoso Slavek Hanzlik, and she was also a member of the bluegrass group Diamonds in the Rough. More recently, she was a member of Handsome Molly, a top Canadian bluegrass band.

Mark Mathewson’s songs have been recorded by leading bluegrass artists. A winner of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest, he plays guitar and mandolin and sings. Past and present bands include: McGee Creek, Diamonds in the Rough, The Threshers, Sangamo Stemwinders, and Last Acre.

Erich Schroeder has been playing clawhammer banjo since 1976, and his arms are tired. He has won several blue ribbons at the Illinois State Fair in both the banjo and fiddle competitions. Past and present bands include: Goat Ranch Band and the Sangamo Stemwinders, plus he often sits in with other Central Illinois old time and dance bands.

Steve Staley, known to thousands of Illinois schoolchildren as the “house fiddler” at Lincoln’s New Salem, has been a fixture of the Springfield-area folk music scene for nearly three decades. Past and present bands include: Allen Street String Band, The Prairie Chickens, New Century Orchestra, The Threshers, Sangamo Stemwinders, and others.