PLATTSBURGH — Bluegrass music plucked its way into Emily Mero’s life at Willsboro Central School, and it remains.

She is the president of the Bluegrass Club at SUNY Plattsburgh, which hosts the Gibson Brothers on Sunday for a benefit concert for Bluegrass for the Next Generation Project.

“That’s where the program started,” said Mero, who is French major and music minor.

“I was able to be introduced to bluegrass with all the instruments that were donated. We had mandolin, guitar and upright bass and fiddle.”

Before she picked up mandolin, she had played piano and clarinet for a decade. She’s a self-taught pianist and learned how to play clarinet in school.

“I played in concert band and participated in all-county and all-state,” Mero said.

In Willsboro, Bluegrass for the Next Generation Project held Sunday community gatherings at the school.

“We would all come by and play together,” Mero said. “I really enjoyed that.

"I found out that Plattsburgh has a program up here, too, and I was coming up to college here, and I figured I would continue with it.”

The college’s Bluegrass Club is sponsored by the project.

“They also have a class now,” she said. “It’s called the History of Bluegrass. Steve Light taught it last semester when I took it. Now, Tim Hartnett is teaching it.”

Light is a sociology professor and associate vice president for academic affairs at the college. He is also a two-time Vermont state banjo champion and a member of the Bluegrass Gospel Project.

Harnett is an associate librarian at the college and is a veteran North County musician who has played in several bands. including Oh! Betty.

This year, with her peers, Mero attended the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival in Boston.

The Bluegrass Club encourages novices to join.

“We will help them learn,” Mero said.

“I love playing with other people here. I’m able to do that with my friends. I just like being involved.”

Email Robin Caudell:


Robin Caudell was born and raised on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She holds a BS in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She has worked at the Press-Republican since 1990