(This show is another of “Beanie’s Bootlegs”, taken from a cassette tape that Walt’s Mom, Albina Yanis, recorded. Eric Yanis digitized them and I remastered them. Walt’s Mom whenever possible in the early years, would tape our performances on her trusty portable cassette recorder.)
Sunday August 8, 1982. We were a couple of weeks removed from the bluegrass festival in Cooperstown, and getting ready to go to another one the next week. In the meantime we had a full weekend of playing. We played a wedding in Williamstown MA the night before, and then later went to see some friends play at a bar. As a result it was a really long night, and an early start to the next day, to get to Fort Plain, set up and play.
(We were asked to have a fiddle player for the wedding, so we recruited our friend Nick Barr to join us. Nick was still a little unfamiliar with our antics, but we assured him that we’d get him home no later than 9pm. The wedding ran to about 7pm, and on the way home we decided to have a cocktail. We stopped at a bar where we knew some friends were playing. We were all asked to join them onstage and the night sort of got away.
Nick by this time was as drunk as the rest of us. When he took a solo he nearly fell over backwards, much to our amusement. He was definitely feeling no pain, and we had a hard time getting him to leave, as he had struck up a conversation an attractive foreign woman.
We did manage to pull Nick away, and an hour later we pulled up in front of his house in Albany. It was 4am. No sooner did the door to the van open than Nick’s girlfriend Mickey appeared, grabbed him by the arm and yanked him out of the van. She apparently had been waiting since 9pm and to say she was upset would be an under statement. We of course thought it was hilarious.)
The day was overcast and rain was definitely a possibility. We had tarps to cover the equipment just in case. This was the second year we had played in Fort Plain. We always joked about how laid back the folks there were. We would finish what we thought was a good song and the silence would be deafening, yet after we would finish the show people would come up to us and thank us and tell us how much they liked the music.
We started off with “Temperance Reel” an instrumental we liked to play. I might point out that you may hear alot of clicks on this recording. That was just Walt’s Mom turning the recorder on and off. We did “This Here Bottle” next, and then followed with “Louise”. Joe’s solo on this one is excellent, and both Joe and Tom’s backup and “lick trading” stands out.
After explaining to the crowd about some of our adventures the previous day, we did “White Freightliner”. This is a really good version of it. “Red Rubber Ball” featured some of Walt’s unique bass lines, and I’m amazed at how much higher our voices were back then. We loved singing harmony and “Lonesome Town” definitely shows that off. The crowd near Walt’s Mom was getting loud at this point as you can hear them in the background, and I think two of the voices are Al Zubal and Walt’s brother Al. The accapella ending of “Lonesome Town” still gives me goose bumps.
“High On A Mountaintop” written by Ollabelle Reed took things back to the bluegrass high lonesome sound, and in typical Sweet Cider fashion we followed it up with a Grateful Dead tune, “Friend of the Devil”.
A very energetic “Bye Bye Love”, led us into my song “B-25”, where Tom and Joe provided some great banjo and guitar backup. The tape starts in the middle of the intro for “B-25”. The Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby” has a rough start also, but we seemed to get things together quickly. It was at this point that Tom was asked to occasionally announce the chicken barbeque, and a fine job he did….often.
It was time for and instrumental so we did one of current favorites, “Hamilton County Breakdown”, after which the talk turned to one of our inside jokes. It was probably an idea we cooked up at the bluegrass festival. I had also broken a string, and while changing it the tape recorder was turned off. It was turned on near the end of the intro for “Hickory Wind”.
We put on our disco shoes for our arrangement of “I Will Survive”. This was one of our favorites at the time and recording seems to bear that out.
We must have taken a short break and then started things off again with our arrangement of a Tom Rush recording, “Driving Wheel”. Listen to Walt’s ending of this one. Pure gold.
(A funny aside. When Eric sent me the “Beanies Bootlegs Collection”, he had named all the Mp3’s. He wasn’t familiar with all the songs we did back in the day, so he did his best to name them. “Driving Wheel” was labeled as “Some old injun” which I could not for the life of me figure out what it was until I played it.
Of course when I did play it I knew what it was and how Eric had interpreted the line “I feel like some old engine…” to be “I feel like some old Injun.” I laughed like hell….)
It started to sprinkle some at this point, so we had Al Zubal hustling to get the tarps in case it started to pour. Of course it seemed appropriate at this juncture to do a song about a flood, Phil Rosenthal’s “Muddy Water”. We must have been very comfortable, because this is another song where the harmonies stand out.
A song I wrote, “Sweet Kentucky Bluegrass”, was played at breakneck speed, and were another example of the outstanding vocals. A song we had been doing pretty much since our beginnings, “Good Morning Country Rain”, was next and it seems to be a little faster than we would normally play it.
Finally it was time for one more and we went with a bluegrass standard, “Little Cabin Home On The Hill” finished off the day. That’s Walt singing the high tenor part.
I’m really quite amazed at how well the mix was that day for it to sound as good as it does on this tape. Guess we were doing something right. So there it is the “Beanies Bootleg” of our August 8, 1982 show in Fort Plain. We would be off to the Beaver Valley Bluegrass festival the following week. Little did we realize that storm clouds were a’brewin’ for Sweet Cider in the coming weeks.
The Mp3’s for this show are available from the Music Page, or you can go directly here.