(Loose ends. Seems I’ve always got loose ends to tie up.)
Thirty years is a long time to be doing something. But thirty years can slip on by pretty darn fast. Sometime in 2007 “Bukka Bob” suggested we have a 30th anniversary party. The four of us had come together to form Sweet Cider in October of 1977, and the idea of a party was always a good idea to us. So October 17, of 2007 we got together with a bunch of friends at the Quaker Inn in Duanesburg, the site of our first gig New Years Eve 2007, and played some music, reminisced and had a ball.
I recorded all three sets, never realizing that these would be the last recordings we’d ever make. Not many people have heard these tapes, they’ve been sitting around for nearly 10 years. All the talking, joking around and shenanigans of a Sweet Cider show are here. This set features a reunion with our friend Glenn Nayden on mandolin, who we hadn’t seen since he graduated college and went to live in California in 1980.
Time to post Part 2 of our first Freedom Park show in 2002. It’s funny how many of the songs that we played I’ve forgotten. Joe is the same, because when I post one of these shows he doesn’t remember some of the songs either.
The first tune on this video, “It Wasn’t You”, falls into the “I don’t remember playing that!”, category. I was even more surprised to hear the segue into the second song, “Back to the Mountains”. We must have added that instrumental piece to make the transition a little more interesting..
“Back to the Mountains” is another song that Jim Senese and I made up.
Right after that, Tom, Joe and Walt left the stage as I introduced the Yo Brothers. We had been doing the Yo Brothers for eight years in one form or another. Most of the time we wouldn’t leave the stage, but would do a quick hat change and then break into “Hold On I’m Coming”. As time went on and we saw how well received the boy’s were becoming, we began to make them a larger part of the show. Tom bought the matching green shirts that the fellows became known for, and I started to expand my introductions as well, making up more outrageous stories as time went on.
Once the other guys had changed, I’d leave the stage to get my shirt, and they’d start riffing. A Yo Brothers segment always led off with “Hold On I’m Coming”. I think EIEI Yo was a little pumped up on the song this time around.
Yo Yo sang the next song, “Let Me In”. He did a real fine job on it too. Day and EI nailed the harmony, but then they always did. Choreography was an integral part of the “Brothers” act and they did a nice job “stomping”. The Wilson Pickett song, “Walking The Dog”, got the “Yo” treatment next. Day Yo provided the swine noises, as well as a nice recitation of Mary Mary.
Being the only purveyors of Rhythm of Bluegrass in Wisconsin, the Yo’s pulled the Supreme’s song, “Stop In The Name of Love” from their catalog and it was a real show “stopper”. Day Yo followed with his commercial for “Uncle Thumbs Udder Butter on a Rope”, a real big seller in Yomama. I’m pretty sure that Day was getting a bigger cut from the Udder Butter products than he was letting on. He never could explain the two Jaguars in his garage…..the animal not the car.
“I Feel Good”, complete with faux Kazoo’s was next. The Yo Brothers always felt good. After their last song, Day, Yo and Ban left the stage, and EIEI delivered a nice introduction of the band which Sweet Cider failed to do. He was then unceremoniously kicked off the stage. Walt when he came back on stage delivered one of his patented quips about the “fat one”…
A nice way to switch from the Yo Brothers silliness was to slow things down. So we played a Senese/Kilcullen tune, “You Are The Reason”….always one of my favorite tunes that we made up.
And that end’s Part 2….thanks again to Mary Cirincione for shooting the video…Part 3 will eventually be posted…LOL
In the fall and winter of 1978-79 we began playing quite a bit in Cobleskill. Our main venue was a very small club in a strip mall in the middle of town called Uncle Jack’s. I was approached by “Fiddlin’ Duane Morgan” to have the band come and play there, filling in for his band, and when we did we were totally unprepared for the reception we received. Every time we played there the audiences were incredible.
Those shows at Uncle Jack’s landed us more jobs in town. We played at a few more of the local bars, and also did a couple of shows at the Cobleskill College Coffeehouse (the name escapes me right now). For whatever reason, our unamplified acoustic music was a big hit, and I’m still astonished today at the reaction of the folks there.
In May of 1979 we were asked to play at a Music Festival being held at the School’s ski lodge, and of course we were eager to play. Although we had been well received for all the Cobleskill gigs, we were totally unprepared for what happened on that day.
I really don’t remember when we were scheduled to go on, but it was either next to last or we closed the show. After several of the bands played we took the stage, and were greeted with a roar from the crowd…… And it never stopped! Throughout the entire one hour set there was a constant hootin’, hollerin’ and cheering. It was amazing!…..I’m sure the fact that we tended to play everything at breakneck speed in those days had something to do with it.
So for one day in May of 1979, we were “rock stars”………I’ll never forget it…..
(Well, I thought it was about time I cranked up the “Wayback Machine” and added something to the Archives. Seems there’s always a project or three that keeps me from these pages on a consistent basis, so I’m always playing catch-up. I’ll try and be a little more regular in my posting here, but I promise nothing. LOL)
Freedom Park in Scotia was always on our list of places we wanted to perform, and June of 2002 we did our first show there. Tom and Walt’s cousin Mary Cirincione videotaped the show and I recently transferred it to DVD. The video in places is a bit shaky, but overall it’s not bad.
What struck me most watching this video is how polished we had become, and how easily the show flowed. We had really worked on our stage presence and it’s apparent here.
Nell Burrows, who had “discovered” us at a show we did in Albany for the Art in the Park lunchtime concert series the previous summer gave us a nice introduction and we kicked things off with “Always”, written by Walt. This song was also recorded by the McKrells, but of course I prefer our version.
There’s a break in the tape, and then it comes back during “Home Sweet Home Revisited”, a song that we had brought out of “retirement”. We learned this one when we were young Cider Guys and thought it would be fun to play again.
Joe sang the next song, “Steeltown” a song we had been playing for awhile. A band called The Rarely Heard, not to be confused with The Seldom Scene, had originally recorded it. We loved finding songs that were not necessarily played by most people.
Tom’s song “Lloyd Cady Was His Name” came next, along with the requisite “….we’ve got a million in the cellar.” joke. Walt helped Tom write this one, moving and adding lyrics around. The song received a Song of the Year nomination at the NorthEast Country Music Association’s Awards Show in 1998.
By 2002 Jim Senese and I had written a boatload of songs and one of the very first songs we wrote “When The Wind Blows Through The Pines”, was always on the set list in those days. I seemed to have forgotten the words, and if you listen close you can hear me mumble my way through.
Another song Walt wrote, “One In A Lifetime”, one that we also performed on the Sounding Board television show on Time Warner Cable in 2000 slowed things down letting us catch our breath. A nice change of pace, it was one of the few waltzes in our repertoire.
We got things going at “cider speed” again with the next song “In Not Too Many Days” written by Walt. The arrangement for this song is in my mind what really makes it. The harmonies stand out especially at the end.
And that closes out the first part of the show. The second part features a rare recorded performance by the Yo Brothers.
In 1982 Sweet Cider went on hiatus. In the interim, Joe and Walt formed the Rozmyncko Brothers. In the winter of 1982-83 they recorded a short demo at Walt’s brother Al’s place in Mariaville. I helped with the recording, recording it to my Fisher cassette deck. Joe uncovered the tape this past winter, and I re-mastered it.
This was the last set we played in 2006. Our show at Saratoga First Night was now complete. To accommodate Saratoga Faire, the band that was to follow us, we were going to have to tear down our gear in record time so they would have ample time to set up and do their sound check. Complicating matters even more was the fact that I had brought extra equipment so I could record the show. It made for a pretty chaotic scene, but it came off well.
The first track on the recording is just alot of chit chat and tuning. We got things going with “This Here Bottle”. It sounds like I had to teach Tom how to play the song again. Sometimes the cobwebs got pretty thick. LOL. Walt does a neat little bass lick during the third verse. “Misery River” was up next, and then we did our version of “Lonesome Fiddle Blues”, complete with Walt’s flat-picked bass solo.
We played three sets on this night, and we decided to repeat some of the songs from the previous two sets in the third, the reason being it would be an entirely new audience. That was one of the unique things about First Night, a different audience for each set. So although we had done “It’s Not Easy” earlier in the evening it was going to be a “repeat” for the third set. Walt wrote the song, and it was described by Daily Gazette music reviewer Mike Hochanadel as an “anti NAFTA anthem” in a review of the 2005 Northeast CMA Awards Show at the Egg in Albany, where we first performed it. We just called it “the workingman’s anthem”.
Another original, “You Are The Reason”, which I wrote with Jim Senese was our next song. Listening to this for the first time in awhile, I was struck how all the individual parts came together. This is one of my favorite versions of the song. The harmonies are “haunting” and I think it came out just how we had wanted it to.
I always loved the horse racing analogy that Walt used when writing “No Win No Place No Show”. It’s definitely a favorite of mine. The vocals stand out on this song too. Another Senese/Kilcullen tune, “Why I Said Goodbye” came next. When we were learning this song, I heard an alternating harmony part in my head, and Walt was able to make it work. This is definitely a “Sweet Cider arrangement.
Over time there was always an occasional “brain fart” during a show. Sometimes just one of us would forget a part or words, and sometimes we would experience the dreaded “collective brain fart”. “Four Days of Rain” illustrates this perfectly. I got lost and came in a little early with my vocal. That caused Tom to lose track, and then Walt, Joe and I got confused. It’s funny to listen to it now, but at the time I’m sure we were quizzically looking at each other wondering how it was going to end. Somehow we did pull it together.
Of course when things like that would happen, the best thing to do was to follow up with one of our stronger songs. Our answer was Walt’s “In Not Too Many Days”.
The last song we played in 2006 was Tom’s song “Hudson Tabor Played The Fiddle”. Tom liked to keep things simple chord-wise, and as a result this song only has two chords. This was another song with “haunting vocals”, and great pickin’ by Tom and Joe.
So 2006 was over. We would be starting our 30th year together in 2007.
(After an extended hiatus I’m posting the first set of our First Night Saratoga performance from New Years Eve 2006. Some of the recordings from that show were put on a live CD we did called “Ten Pack”. These recordings are some of the best I have of the band.)
We performed at Saratoga First Night five times. The last time was in 2006, and these recordings are from that show. This is the first of three sets.
We kicked things off at around 6pm with one I wrote, “Little Lies”. There’s a weird little vocal twist on this song, as on the first part of the chorus, I sing a harmony part, and the second line I’m singing the melody. Walt does the opposite. I’m not sure who Tom was talking to,probably some friends of ours.
“Remington Ride” was next, with Walt’s now famous flat picked bass solo.
Joe was up next singing “Raised by the Railroad Line”. Tom and I did a little bit of choreography on this one too. Made us both laugh whenever we did it.
Now at this point I would have preferred to just keep playing, but was voted down. After a short breather we did Walt and Tom’s song “Rolling Down That Highway”. That song was voted “Song of the Year” for 2005 by the Northeast CMA at their annual Awards Show.
Walt told a real funny story after that. I had originally put it on the Ten Pack CD, but Walt asked me to take it off for fear Aunt Betty might be offended. I stumbled over the intro to the next song, “California Cotton Fields”, but managed to untie my tongue for the rest of the song. We played this alot back in the early days and decided to resurrect it for 2006.
Listening to this version of “You Are The Reason”, which I wrote with Jim Senese, makes me quite proud. The arrangement and vocals are everything we were trying to do with “Sweet Cider Music”.
“In Not Too Many Days” written by Walt was the perfect follow up to “You Are The Reason”.
(Tom always complained that he couldn’t read the set list. He also was never sure if he should capo or what key he was going to play in. I tried to “simplify” things by making him a special set list. It included capo changes and the appropriate key. It was color coded and printed much larger. I was a thing of beauty. It also confused the hell out of Tom, and needless to say I never used it again.)
Joe sang the next song, “Steel Town”. We always liked this one. We played it with alot of energy, and the vocals really shine.
One of my favorite Walt Yanis songs, “No Win No Place No Show” was next.
We played 40 minute sets that evening, so we had just enough time left to do two more songs. First up was another old song we revived, one I wrote called “On My Mind”. We closed the show with another instrumental, “Lonesome Fiddle Blues”. It featured some great picking and another Walt flat picked bass solo.
And that was the end of the first set at Saratoga First Night 2006. I’ll be posting all the Mp3’s for the entire night soon.
Sweet Cider over time became it’s own cottage industry. If you came to a show you’d be able to find CD’s, T-shirts, hats and even fishing lures. We did quite well marketing these items, but Walt felt we needed to expand and so he came up with a selection of merchandise he felt would be sure fire hits. And so I give you Walt’s Sweet Cider Merchandise.
#1 Sweet Cider Cologne – Comes in three distinked scents. “Pasture”, “Barn” and the ever popular “Where have you been walking”.
#2 Sweet Cider Pez Dispenser – Comes in 4 different styles. “Tom”, “Walt”, “Bill”, and “Joe”. NOTE – The “Walt” style can hold and dispense up to 10 Pez candy packages at the same time. Optional shoulder harness and holster available.
SWEET CIDER SPONSORED INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL
#3 The Joe Kilcullen Public Speaking Course. – Yes friends, learn the secret technique of Joe’s unmatched ability as a master communicator. Understand the true meaning of ” Less Is More”. Hear the heart touching story of how it all began after hearing that old Keith Whitley song “When You Say Nothing At All”. Course comes with full color manual, charts, overheads and Joe’s award winning high quality 8 second video, “When You Say Nothing At All”.
#4 The official Walt Yanis Autobiography ” The Duct Tape Luthier “. – Walt’s own story of a lifetime of instrument repair and maintenance without ever entering a music store. Comes in hardcover, paperback, or special duct tape edition.
#5 The Bill Kilcullen Astral Projection Method. – Learn Bill’s patented technique of literally being able to ” beam” to any desired location and back without moving a muscle. “Now you see him, now you don’t, oops! now you see him again.” Amaze your friends. Comes in handy when you’re late for work or an appointment. Instantly ” project yourself ” to the head of the line of admissions gates, food vendor services and porto-johns at those crowded music festivals. Surprise your friends by “popping” into their rooms while their having sex. The possibilities are endless. Order Now !
Additionally he also planned to market these items, although they never went into production.
The Sweet Cider Inflatable Date. – Made from lifelike nonbiodegradable material . Comes in 4 models. – ” The Joe”, “The Bill” “The Walt” and “The Tom”. Note – “The Tom” model comes with removable teeth.
(After further review, only one of the songs is from the ’90’s. The other is circa 2003-06, although I have as yet been unable to pin down the exact date)
Eric Yanis just sent me 7 sets of tapes’s that were Walt’s, and as I was giving them a quick listen I came across these two songs which prompted me to post them along with some photos. “Healing Kind” caught my ear immediately. The harmonies actually got me a little emotional. I can’t believe we sounded that good.
The tape it’s on is one that I recorded on my Vestax four track recorder. I then gave a copy to Walt. It’s from a show we did in Gloversville in December of 1995 at a small club called The Acoustic Cafe. It was run by Gary Van Slyke, an old friend from the early days playing around Mayfield who we probably initially met at the Buckshot Inn.
As I said this was a rare find. Joe doesn’t even remember doing the song. The tape starts out with some onstage banter, the first part of which centers around Walt’s “guitar case”. Walt was still playing the Kramer bass that he had bought during our early days. I’m not sure if he originally had a case for it, or if he did what happened to it, but there was a long period of time where he didn’t have a case. In typical Walt fashion he would just wrap the guitar in a sleeping bag and that would suffice as a case. Needless to say it amused the rest of us to no end. At this point he had finally gotten a case, but we saw no reason to stop kidding him about it.
The “and we’re his Bluegrass Band (Boys)” came about when I believe it was Dan Rumph (sp?), who introduced us once as “Here’s Tom Yanis and HIS band”. So throughout the show whenever I would say “Here’s Tom Yanis” or “On the banjo is Tom Yanis” or “a song written by Tom Yanis”, Joe, Walt and I would gleefully follow with “and we’re his Bluegrass band”.
“Stray Dogs and Alley Cats” is from one of our appearances at the Altamont Fair between 2003-06. We would play every year in the 1890’s Building and Museum. And again the harmony on this song was really tight. Well all except for a couple of clunkers I threw in.