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Billy Needs a Beard is four friends making and playing music together.  

The following is some history on how we all got together.

Steven Glick and Ben Graffam began playing guitar together at Steve’s house on Monday nights in January of 2002, little did they know they would one day become BILLY needs a Beard.  Covering Beatles’ tunes was the pleasure they sought.  Arrangements of Julia, Revolution, Get Back, A Little Help From My Friends, and In My Life became a weekly challenge.   After a couple of months, their friend Billy Lippy got wind of what they were doing and wanted to take part.  He had Monday nights free, and he loved the Beatles. 

          It made sense that since there were three of them, they should become a band, even if only for the playfulness of their Monday night jam sessions.  There was, however, one problem: Billy didn’t have a beard.  Steven and Ben were convinced that to be in a band one must have a beard (Don’t ask them about the Supremes!).  But Billy had this scruffy goatee, and well, that just didn’t cut it.  If he wanted to be in the band, Steven told him, he would have to grow a real beard. 

Billy endeavored on the facial hair side of things, and for several weeks the three of them searched for a good name, but nothing really hit the mark.  Friends who heard about their Monday night jam sessions asked, “How’s the band coming?” to which Steven would reply, “we’re not a band yet; Billy still needs to grow a beard.” 

          At this point in the story, approximately July or August of 2002, all their playing occurred in Steven’s living room in Winter Haven, Florida.  In truth, Billy and Ben were not very accomplished guitarists, learning things each week they both wished they had learned years before.  Steve was patient, though, and nurtured them through the process of approaching different genres of music.  Along with the Beatles, they were learning songs by Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, The Rolling Stones, The Band, Johnny Cash, The Box Tops, and The Mamas and the Papas.  Billy and Ben brought some songs too, and the three of them would work up arrangements for the guitars and voices.  Steve was adamant there’d be harmonizing—it was, as he said, almost as important as the beards!  So harmony happened.

          In January of 2003 another good friend, Jimmy Bassham, who had just purchased an acoustic bass, joined the band.  (For the record, when Jim joined the band he had a nicely shaped goatee of his own, so it was still Billy who needed the beard!)  Jim doesn’t sport a beard, but as far as we can tell, he doesn’t need one.  Just Billy.    

          With more members in the band, the song list expanded, the rehearsals became a bit more purposeful, and the harmonies and playing became more complex.  The band was becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of making music together, when one day in the fall of 2003 Steve received a call about the possibility of having the four of them play an Arts Festival in Lakeland.   And when he booked the foursome for the event he coined the name BILLY needs a beard.  “It was just the first thing I thought of,” he remembers now.  And it stuck. 

          The gig came off without a hitch, unless you count that Steven’s new Taylor guitar had an electronic malfunction and Billy and Ben were playing through amps no one could hear, and Ben’s wife made a video that sort of looks like The Blair Witch Project.   Ben basically likens the whole thing to Steven Stills’ words to the crowd at Woodstock: ‘This is our first gig, man.  We are scared shitless!’” 

          Since then it’s been a wonderful ride, with the boys finding a niche harmonizing around traditional, roots, and rock and roll music.  They write their own music too.  No big successes, no big heads, just a load of fun.  Through it all, they still see themselves as four friends of diverse backgrounds and tastes who enjoy making music together as often as possible. 


So who are they?

          Billy Lippy plays 6 and 12 string guitar, some occasional mandolin, and sings.  He hails from Pennsylvania, and when he was much younger dreamed of singing in a small church choir.  Jimmy Bassham, on bass and vocals, grew up in Tennessee listening to and loving traditional country music, especially the stuff he heard on border radio.  Ben Graffam plays guitar and sings.  He grew up in Maine and always wanted to be a singer in a party style rock and roll band.  And Steven Glick, guitarist, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica player, singer, etc., etc, etc., is a Kansan who learned his chops in many traveling bands.  A song he penned in the early 1970’s was covered by The Flying Burrito Brothers on their album, “Airborne.” 
In 2016 Ben Graffam decided that he would like to pursue other endevours.  Jimmy Bassham had an unfortunate accident and broke his finger.  Jimmy swiched to percussion.  

Mike Lawson joined the band as our bass player.  Michael Lawson was born and raised in Winter Haven, Florida.  After attending local public schools, he earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of New Mexico.  Upon returning to Winter Haven, he taught orchestra for 35 years in the public schools of Polk County including his alma mater.  Retired in 2011, he continues to perform with The Un-Strung String Quartet, The Amigo Brothers, Those Guys, the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra, and the Orlando Philharmonic.  With his wife, Laura, of 45 years, he continues to raise puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs of Palmetto, Florida.





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