The Tuesday Mountain Boys didn’t set out to form a band. What started as a regular Tuesday night porch jam session at Brian Duffy’s Salem, New Jersey home evolved into a CD project, and before they knew it, The Tuesday Mountain Boys were a bona fide bluegrass band.
“It began with my friend, Troy Spencer from Ladenburg, Pennsylvania, coming over on Tuesday nights back in the early 1990s,” says Brian. “We played on my back porch. Troy played banjo, I played guitar or mandolin, and we both sang.” Troy was a seasoned musician with about 15 years on Brian. “He wrote the song ’40 Years,” says Brian. The song, first recorded by Bob Paisley and The Southern Grass, was later recorded by Aubrey Haynie and Danny Paisley. “I learned timing and tradition from Troy.”
Troy's son, Jeffrey Spencer, who lived in Newark, NJ, joined them on the porch, playing rhythm guitar, followed by Harold "Pep" Peploe of Carneys Point, NJ, on upright bass.
“We all had similar taste in music,” says Brian. “I don't remember that we intended to form a band; we just enjoyed playing and singing together.” Occasionally bluegrass loving friends would stop in to listen. “I think one of them may have recommended us to someone who needed a band for an occasion. We needed a name, so it became The Tuesday Mountain Boys. We were soon joined by our friend Warren Purdy of Pocopson, PA, who, with his brother Andy, had years earlier formed a gospel bluegrass band, The King's Countrymen. Warren was an exceptional lead guitarist and singer.”
Sadly, Troy passed away, and the band stopped playing for a while. “We missed playing together, and several months after Troy passed away, we began to play again when Carvel Boyd, who lived in Newark, Delaware, started playing banjo with us.”
By 2001, the band had been playing together long enough to cut a CD. “We all chipped in together to fund a CD project,” Brian says. “We selected our material and did a single six-hour recording session at Bias Sound in Springfield, Virginia. We spent another half day mixing and mastering.” The CD, The Old Home, was released in time for the band’s appearance at the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival 2001. At that time, they were joined by Ted Lawhorn of Stuart's Draft, Virginia, on fiddle.
Like any other band, the lineup evolved. When Warren Purdy left the band in 2003, Don Breeze joined The Tuesday Mountain Boys on fiddle and vocals. “At that point, we were only playing around eight to ten gigs a year since we all had day jobs as well.” Their gigs included concerts at various bluegrass organizations, Longwood Gardens (in Delaware), summer concert series at State Parks, nearby communities, and private parties. “We played funerals, picnics, fundraisers, you name it,” laughs Brian. “We even played for a few weddings and for the inauguration of the Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court.”
The band lost another member when Pep Peploe passed away. Saddened by his loss, the band took another break. They were later joined by Leon Werkheiser of Pennsville, NJ, on bass, followed by multi-instrumentalist and singer Jeff Blevins of Parkville, PA.
“During our appearance at Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival in 2022, we were down a fiddle player,” Brian recalls. “Don Breeze was unable to get in from Canada due to Covid travel restrictions. We were fortunate to have Sarah Williams Larsen from Annapolis, Maryland, step in at the last moment to help us out with her wonderful fiddle playing and stage presence.”
The Tuesday Mountain Boys have had some original tunes over the years, including those above “40 Years” by Troy Spencer. Troy also wrote “Cardboard Mansion” after seeing a news report of homeless people sleeping on cardboard boxes over subway grates to keep warm. Carvel Boyd wrote “Stepping it Up” and “Southern Touch.” Brian wrote “I Won’t Be Coming Back,” “Ironwood,” “Frost on the Meadow,” and “Parker Brown,” a song written in the early 1990s inspired by a man who was born enslaved and raised in Brian’s childhood home.
As happened with many bands, Covid put everything on "hold" for The Tuesday Mountain Boys.
“We have not yet resumed our previous level of activity,” says Brian. We still enjoy every chance we get to just jam together for old times’ sake. The truth of the matter is that we are in it for the joy of playing the music, for meeting new people and for the comradery.”