The Rongo Band used to play at the Rongovian Embassy, a famous local music venue in Trumansburg, NY, until the venue closed in 2016.
The band has been playing together for nearly a decade and is composed of some of Ithaca’s most experienced old-time musicians. Richie and Rosie of the self-titled duo forms the core while it is rounded out by Steve Selin (Evil City String Band) and Ben Gould (Old Crow Medicine Show founding member).
They played for years at the Rongo, delivering a high octane mix of traditional and original tunes and songs. Their unique sounds reflect a deep understanding of old-time and country music.
Richie Stearns (banjo) is a legendary banjo player and singer, and has led bands including the Horse Flies, and Donna the Buffalo. He has also played with countless others, and tours with Natalie Merchant. He is steeped in the traditions of American old-time music, Appalachian folk, blues, African, rock, and country music.
Rosie Newton (fiddle) grew up immersed in the rich folk music scene of Woodstock, NY, and began playing the fiddle when she was eight. Newton attended college in Ithaca, NY, where she studied Viola Performance. While in Ithaca, she found herself swept up by the area’s music scene, which infused her with a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of roots music. During this time she also developed a love for singing, and this, in addition to playing fiddle, forms an integral part of her performance.
Steve Selin (guitar) began playing old-time American fiddle music with his family, and has been influenced by the elegant simplicity of it ever since. He is a multi-instrumentalist and professional cidermaker who has been playing with Richie and Rosie for most of the past decade. Steve appears on Richie’s and Rose and the Bros’ most recent recordings.
Ben Gould (bass) was a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, and left the band to follow his passion for old boats and elusive fish and to build a business in fine cabinetry. Ben appears on early Old Crow Medicine show recordings, and on Richie’s most recent recordings.