Merle & Chameleon

The Copathetic Cowboys
The Copathetic Cowboys

We don’t know much about the Chameleon or Merle’s childhood. The Chameleon grew up in foster care in and around Alexandria, Virginia. On his 18th birthday, he snuck into the Birchmere and saw New Grass Revival live. Sam Bush noticed a physical resemblance and invited the Chameleon backstage, even allowing the young man to touch his mandolin. The Chameleon’s life was altered by this event and he decided to hit the road with a traveling carnival, working at the "Guess Your Age or Guess Your Weight" booth. His carnival life ended after seeing John Denver play at the Texas State Fair. The Chameleon was so moved the song "Rocky Mountain High" that he relocated to Colorado in order to grow specialty mushrooms at Windstar.

Merle’s parents raised him on their farm for runaway free-range chickens in southern Ohio. The free spirited chickens and early Jimmy Buffet albums inspired him to leave the farm and explore the breadth and depth of America. After soiling his nest in some of the best resort communities in the Atlantic and Pacific, he stumbled onto Aspen, Colorado in the early 1980’s. He spent much of the 80’s studying the relationship between the Qabbalah and quantum physics; ultimately discovering that the link was bluegrass music.

The two met through miracle tickets for New Grass’ final performance, opening for the Grateful Dead on New Years Eve 1989. By chance, they begged seats from the same woman and ended up beside each other. The Chameleon broke the ice by guessing Merle’s weight and age. They were surprised to learn that each had traveled to Oakland from the same mountain valley in order to see New Grass’ swan song. They shared a ride back to Colorado in the Chameleon’s VW bus and have been friends ever since. When not spinning tunes for KDNK listeners, they enjoy disc golf, whitewater rafting, and old Van Morrison records. They have spent so much time together over the years that someone dubbed them "Copathetic Cowboys". Thus another show on KDNK was born.