Beartracks Logo 2b

About Us

Beartracks began as a trio in 2004. Legendary Dobro player Junior Barber convinced his cousins, Tom and Julie, to make the switch from playing traditional country music in clubs to playing bluegrass oriented material at festivals around the Northeast. The main focus of the group was the sibling vocal harmony of Tom and Julie and Junior’s unique stylist approach to playing resonator guitar. Although not a traditionally structured bluegrass group, the trio gained acceptance and a solid fan base at festivals throughout the Eastern US and in Canada from Calgary to PEI.

When illness forced Junior to retire in June of 2013, we added a banjo and fiddle to Beartracks, giving us a much more traditional sound. We have had some changes in musicians over the years. I am finding out that this is fairly normal in the bluegrass world. We grew up playing in a family band with our dad, mom, and brother, so we were used to a continuity of players. However, we have been fortunate to have some very skilled musicians work with us and have found, as Junior told us a long time ago, that as long as we (Julie and Tom) are together, the backbone of Beartracks remains the same.

Since our inception in 2004, we have recorded six albums. Our music is available on CD Baby, I-Tunes, Rhapsody and Spotify. Our repertoire includes traditional bluegrass songs, classic country with a bluegrass twist and originals.

Julie Hogan

Julie plays an acoustic/electric bass and splits the lead and harmony vocals with her brother, Tom. Julie received her master’s degree in counseling from SUNY Plattsburgh.  She was an elementary school counselor at NCCS for 16 years.  She was also a lecturer in the graduate counseling and psychology programs at SUNY for 20 years.  She is currently

A school counselor at Peru Elementary School, where she can be found dancing each morning greeting the kids as they get dropped off.

Some of Julie’s fondest memories of childhood derive from the innumerable days spent around her grandfather’s kitchen table listening to the “grown ups” talking about old times, laughing and playing music with her family. She developed her view of the world and passion for music not from television, but from the stories told of the lives that had passed before. Julie began singing with her family’s band at the tender age of four. She would stand on a chair to reach the microphone and belt out “Cotton Fields” without missing a note. She began playing the bass guitar at the age of 12 because, as she says, “It only had four strings, so I thought it would be the easiest to learn.”

Julie constantly pleases audiences with her superb vocals, steady bass playing and seemingly boundless energy. Her love of performing shines through at every show. One of the highlights of her musical career to date has been performing a duet with David Frizzell. Not only did she learn her part of the song in 20 minutes, she amazed both the audience and David with her performance.

Julie’s biggest musical influences were her mother and father. Her brother has been her biggest supporter and her hero!  Julie loves all types of music and has, consequently, developed a style of singing that is all her own. Like her brother, she treasures family, music and laughter. Unlike her brother, clothes and boots (and pie 🥧) also rank high in importance. 😁Wherever she travels, she can be found in shoe stores looking for that special pair of high-heeled boots.

Tom Venne

Tom plays rhythm guitar and splits the lead and harmony vocals with his sister, Julie. He is the proud father of three grown boys and grandfather to five boys and a girl. Tom lives on land that has been home to the Venne family since the 1800’s. The former farm is nestled in the Saranac river valley in the foothills of the Adirondacks. With the exception of a four-year stint in the US Navy that ended in 1974, this always has been, and always will be, home.

After graduation from SUNY Plattsburgh, Tom gained employment with the Federal government. This employment allowed him to see many different parts of the country and world and also allowed him to pursue his love of music. He has been very happily retired since 2011.

Tom grew up listening to traditional roots country and bluegrass. He has never strayed from the music that captured his soul years ago. Tom’s first and most important musical influences were his mother and father. Some of his earliest memories of music were of them practicing with their band, Clem Hawkins and the Wagoneers. They taught him that the most important people at a show were not the band or the promoters, but the fans that spent their time and hard earned money to come and listen to the music.

Tom was inducted into the New York State Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 while playing with a band called, appropriately, The Upstate New Yorkers. Tom also sings in the church choir on Sunday mornings.

The most important things in his life are family, music, laughter, and food, not necessarily in that order if he is really hungry!