Live In Fort Plain / August 8, 1982

(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, Image6but 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. Image2We 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 Image3my 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.

Image5A 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. Image4We 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.

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As promised, the Mp3’s for the March 6, 1982 show at the Electric Grinch have been uploaded and are available for download. Go to the music page Here, and browse all the shows (10 so far), or go directly to the March 6 Grinch show here to download the Mp3’s. Enjoy.

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The Electric Grinch / March 6, 1982 / Set 4

(Wow! Four months and no new posts. This is a “tying up loose ends” post. The last of 8 sets we played March 5-6, 1982 at the Electric Grinch)

Our last set at the Grinch was played before a pretty “liquored up” audience. For that matter we were probably feeling no pain ourselves. The first 3 minutes of this tape are a little messed up. I’m pretty sure it’s the nearly 15 year old tape itself. We got the set going with the usual announcements and then broke into “Pig in a Pen”.

We slowed things down with my song “B-25”, and followed that with the Gram Parsons tune, “Still Feeling Blue”. Next we played Walt’s song, “Keep Me Rolling On”. I was surprised when listening to it, that there was no vocal harmony. I guess we hadn’t worked anything up yet. We were also playing it much faster in those days. Of course we seemed to play everything faster back then.

“Bugle Call Rag”, an instrumental, was next. Everyone got a chance to solo, although there is a spot in the song where it appears no one was sure who was supposed to be playing. Those kind of things happened at the end of an early morning set.

We kept things bluegrass with “Little Cabin Home on the Hill” and “How Long Have I Been Waiting”. The harmony on the latter was really good. I can’t believe I used to sing that high.

We closed things out with “Mama Don’t Allow” and “Armadillo Breakdown”. We had developed a fondness for Amaretto Liqueur, and we renamed “Armadillo Breakdown” “Amaretto Breakdown”. And so ended two night and eight sets at the Electric Grinch in March 1982.

I’ll be posting all the Mp3’s for the entire night soon.

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2003 NorthEast Country Music Association Awards Show

The NorthEast Country Music Association’s Awards Shows were a fixture in the Capital District for nearly two decades. The show similar in style to the CMA Awards held in Nashville, was covered extensively by the local media and the nomination announcements and the show itself were well covered and attended. To be nominated for an award was an honor, and winning an award was very special.

We first became involved with the organization in 1997, when Walt and I along Cathy Anderson and Nick Barr were asked to present the Vocal Group of the Year award.

Walt put together an accapella version of our presentation and we sang it in four part harmony. Later that evening the discussion turned to creating a Bluegrass Group category, and the following year that’s what happened. We won the Bluegrass Group award for 1998 and became very involved with NECMA. We were lucky to have been nominated many times over the years, and in 2003 we received 9 nominations. This is our performance from that show. “Rolling Down That Highway”, written by Tom and Walt and “No Win, No Place, No Show” written by Walt. In 2005 “Rolling Down That Highway” was voted Song of the Year.

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April 16, 1994 – Benefit Concert for Indian Relief – Part Four

The final three songs of our set. “Dixieland”, “Wait A Minute” and “Lonesome Road”. If you look close, you’ll notice that Walt’s hair and beard were in a “salt and pepper” state. Joe, Tom and I still had hair that was relatively free of gray.

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Shoot For The Stars – Part Two

I posted Walt’s demo of “Shoot for the Stars” last week. This video is the performance of the song at the opening of the 2003 NorthEast Country Music Association Awards Show. Thanks to Mark Hersch for loaning me the VHS tape.

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Shoot For The Stars

I posted this video on Facebook last month. This is the demo of a song Walt wrote for the 2003 NorthEast Country Music Association’s Award Show called “Shoot For The Stars”. Walt plays all the instruments and does all the vocals. I added the photos from the awards show. Thanks to Eric for getting this to me.

I had thought that this was the only copy of the song, but I investigated and discovered that our friend Mark Hersh, who also produced the show, had a VHS tape of the show that was recorded by Time Warner. “Shoot For The Stars” was the opening song in the show, and it was performed by Walt and many of the performers in the show. In the coming weeks I’ll be posting that video.

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April 16, 1994 – Benefit Concert for Indian Relief – Part Three

This is the third part of the the show. The four songs in this segment are ones we played often in this time period. “White Freight-Liner was a hold over from the ’80’s, but the other three were songs we had learned from about 1989-1994. After 1998 we didn’t play them as often, as we were spending more time on original material.

I really like the interplay between the banjo and guitar and the bass lines on “West Texas Wind”. The vocals were very solid too. “I Wonder” was a nice change of pace song, and Tom had some nice banjo fills going on. “Home Again” had a nice banjo / guitar harmony part on the break, and the vocals were some of our best. I was still able to sing the song back then. Later on I became harder to sing it well, as it began to slip out of my vocal range.

Walt always said “Home Again” was one of his daughter Heather’s favorites.

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(Keeping with the theme that there is no theme, I thought I’d post a few things that I came across. A few photos and photo slideshow.)

Hometown Bluegrass Band
Tom booked a job playing for the Town of Princetown in July of 2006. We were originally scheduled to play in their recently completed gazebo adjacent to the town hall, but the very real threat of rain forced us to move inside town hall, where we played to a wonderful audience.

Princetown is the next town over from our home of Rotterdam, so the folks there were familiar with our music and really embraced us. So much so that in the weeks preceding our show they asked if we would loan them some of the awards we had won so they could put them in a display case in their Town Hall.

Not long after our performance Tom received this in the mail. This was the first time we had ever received anything like this, and it was quite humbling. I really don’t know of any other town’s that had an “Official Bluegrass Band”. Proclamation

We joked that since Princetown had honored us that perhaps that was where we should purchase some land to build the Sweet Cider Museum.

That December we played in the Village of Delanson prior to the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, and were honored by being named “Official Bluegrass Band” of the Village of Delanson. Once again an unexpected honor.

Caroga Lake Historical Musuem
The next photo was taken at the Caroga Lake Historical Musuem. We had finished setting up and had some time before we were to play so Walt and I found a place to relax at one of the exhibits. Contemplating Life at the General Store

It was August 12, 2006, and I remember it was really cold that night. The folks who came to listen didn’t seem to mind though. The audience was large and included several of our friends including Jim and Rose Senese.

I also remember that a can of soda that I had in my knapsack burst thoroughly soaking the contents including the set lists that I was always so careful with.

Hall of Fame
We became members of the NorthEast Country Music Association in 1998. That same year we were named Bluegrass Group of the Year at their annual awards show. It’s significant, as 1998 was the first year there was a Bluegrass Category, and we were the first winners.

Over the years we received many nominations and awards, among them three more Bluegrass Group of the Year awards.Hall of Fame Plaque In 2005 upon receiving our fourth award in the Bluegrass category, we were elected to the NorthEast Country Music Associations “Hall of Fame”. This is a picture of the plaque each of us received.

It was indeed quite an honor. It also made us aware of how long we had been playing music together, nearly 30 years at the time. Quite an achievement by itself.

Shoot For The Stars
(Update: 12/20/12….Eric had the demo for Shoot for the Stars. I’ll post it soon.)

It took me awhile to figure out what year this next photo was from. I was diligent and deduced that this is from the 2003 NorthEast Country Music Association Awards show at Proctors Theater.Shoot For The Stars

This was the last awards show held at Proctors. They were beginning an extensive renovation and would be unavailable for use. This show had the theme of “Shoot For The Stars”, and was very well produced. Walt wrote a song called “Shoot For The Stars” specifically for the show, and it was performed with an ensemble to open the show. I don’t have a recording of the song, and wonder if there even exists a recording. It would be interesting to find.

Here a Yo, there a Yo…….
Finally here’s a photo slideshow of the infamous Yo Brothers. The background music is from a show they did at Calamity Jane’s Coffeehouse. Some of the locales where they appeared are Goold Orchards, Freedom Park and Proctors Theater. Sometimes entertaining and always annoying, the Yo Brothers somehow managed to weasel their way onstage at Sweet Cider shows. When last seen, they were heading off into the sunset.

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April 16, 1994 – Benefit Concert for Indian Relief – Part Two

The show continues with “The Longer You Wait”, “Four Days of Rain”, “Good Morning Country Rain” and “Walking, Running, Flying”.
Once again the video isn’t the best, and Tom continues to be out of frame.

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