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Violinist Richard Solberg performing at the Fountain Area of the Main Campus

Howdy, folks -this is the Fiddler writing.
- Wednesday, June 25, 2003 at 07:16:33 (PDT)
I spent an hour yesterday writing a new "Fiddler's Dram," but it went off to email neverneverland. This is my second attempt. We just had our Summer Solstice Festival here at the Otsquago Grange (my house) in the Mohawk River Valley of New York State. Weather was cool (good for the Friday night square dance) and wet (bad for volleyball and croquet) but a good time was had by all. Saturday night SMB -with Dennis D'Asaro on guitar, Steve Minnich on bass and electric guitar, and Andy Gordon on banjo- played a concert at the beautiful old Windfall Barn. Afterhours jam sessions went on til dawn both nights, with guest musicians such as Kathy Shimberg (who reunited the band Klipnockie for the square dance) on piano and fiddle, Gus and James Leinhart on guitars, and foxy young Channing on clarinet -or anything else she could get her hands on.

One of the things I did last winter was build a rustic Adirondack-style bar, and we had it up and running for the Solstice. I got a keg of Old Slugger pale ale from the Cooperstown Brewery, and the bar was well initiated...and initialed: the morning after I found David Wegman's name carved into the bar top. David, a legendary sailor who has solo sailed around the world twice, arrived in a colorful rig with a dinghy he just built on the roof and a piano he just rebuilt in the back, along with his girlfriend Channing, and his two girls from Wisconsin, Aurora 12 and Crescent 8. David played guitar, banjo, and recorder. In short, any of you who have been around the Sun Mountain Band in the last 25 years knows exactly what the scene was like. And speaking of the band, let me bring you up to date of what's been happening. First, Phil Minnich, my right arm on bass and guitar for the past five or six years, decided to stop out for a while. He still jams with us and tells me he's feeling better. Meanwhile his twin brother Steve continues to play awesome electric guitar and solid bass with us, and if there is afterhours jamming, you can bet Steve is there.

Dennis D'Asaro, our rhythm guitarist and singer, is extremely busy with dog kennels and a Victorian house that needs new everything, but manages as our webmaster to keep this site up and running. And he himself is up and running for every gig. Both Dennis and Steve will be going to Ireland with the band Nov 7-14.

How 'bout Pablo? Our beloved rastamon came to the States the very first time with SMB two years ago. He loved the States, everybody loved him, and he added great percussion and a fabulous reggae side to the band. Pablo will continue to play tours with us, but he now lives with his girlfriend Heidi in Amery, Wisconsin and is building his own reggae band. He will be with us for the coming Midwest Tour Aug 4-18.

Speaking of that Midwest Tour, the rhythm guitar job will be in the capable hands of Capt Joe Colpitt, veteran of many years with SMB in the Virgin Islands.Coming in from his summer hang in Newport, RI, Joe tells me his memory of the long smoky nights in the bars is dim while his memory of the late-night jams is clear. For me it's the opposite! Hey, and by the way, we're bringing some new blood on the tour this August: James Leinhart will be adding acoustic lead guitar. James, a pal from Cooperstown, is enrolled in an honest-to-goodness bluegrass college in Texas for this coming fall, and he's going to get some bonifide on-the-road experience with the Sun Mountain Band. That's good, isn't it?

So what about the Caribbean? Next winter is still up in the air, but I'll tell you -I could use another winter off to finish a project I worked on last winter. The project is "E-RI-E -The Musical," about Norwegian immigrants on the Erie Canal in 1825, the year the canal opened. Last winter I wrote the book, and now I want to write the music. So, we'll see...

Finally, let me just say that I turned 55 this past May, and I'm feelin' good, fiddlin' hard, lovin' the life, lovin' the band. Ain't it great to be alive! (And now I'm eligible for that senior discount at MacDonald's pancake nights) Life is short, so treat yourself well!

- Wednesday, October 10, 2001 at 06:01:16 (PDT)

Howdy, fiddler friends and fans! The busy summer is over, and yesterday the ground near the Otsquago Creek was covered with white frost. The harvest is in, and the Sun Mountain Band is looking to fall projects, some good gigs, and the coming winter season. We had a Red Cross Benefit Concert here at the Otsquago Grange this past Saturday, a concert which also featured our rastamon Pablo Prosper singing reggae songs, with a few calypso numbers added by me. We raised almost $1000 for NYC disaster relief. We also got contributions from friends and fans from around the country who could not attend the show. Many thanks to them! It was great to have Pablo with us for the whole summer. He is now back in the Caribbean where he is visiting family on his home island of Dominica before returning to St Thomas to join us for our Nov 15-16-17 gig at the St Thomas Yacht Club, where we are entertaining for the Womens' World Lazer Regatta. Pablo will also play with SMB for the winter season at Latitude 18 (Jan-Feb-Mar) in Red Hook, St Thomas. A few more notes about the winter season in St Thomas: SMB will play Thurs-Fri-Sat at Latitude 18, at Alex's Restaurant. We'll be onstage for two sets, starting around 8 pm, with a third set played acoustic -no amps or mics- somewhere among the tables. We'll also play some moonlight gigs at other places around the island of St Thomas (Betsy's Bar in Frenchtown, the Sunset Cantina) as well as watering holes on St John and the BVI. The first week of March we'll be on St Croix, staying at the Breakfast Club (340 773-7383) -call Toby Chapin is you're interested in coming down. Dennis D'Asaro is coming down to the islands for his first time, playing the Yacht Club gig. Phil Minnich will do his fifth season as bass player, and his brother Steve will join us again sometime during the season. Joe Colpitt will return as SMB rhythm guitarist for his fourth winter season. We'll have our "Americana" CD for sale, and possibly a new product, a double CD taken from the old "pink tape," from Barnacle Bill's, with 6 bonus tracks. Well, that's enough Fiddler's Dram rambling for now. Best to you all, and...ain't it great to be alive! FIDDLER

- Monday, July 23, 2001 at 06:42:50 (PDT)

July 2001Dear Fiddler Fans & Friends: This is my first Fiddlers Dram entry. I want to use this space to chronicle some of the highlights of various Sun Mountain Band activities. Any responses, replies, suggestions can be sent to us via the website's guestbook. My thanks to alphageek Dennis D'Asaro for setting this up! We were hoping for a two-week tour to Austria this July, via my pal Robert Della Vedova, who heard us play at the Jolly Roger in Tortola a few years ago. It fell through for this summer, but we are aiming to try again next summer. The result was a two-week hiatus from gigging, and the band didn't mind that at all. We had just come from a four-week midwest tour, and we all welcomed the R&R. However, we did wind out with two great fill-in gigs, thanks to our friend Dinny Adams. He introduced us to the new Tubby Hook Marina and Cafe at Dyckman Street in New York City (actually, Inman, just under the Cloisters) right on the Hudson River. This is a very cool place, with marina facilities and green grass and tables and chairs, and food and drink, with a fabulous view south to the George Washington Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. We played July 4th there and had a blast! We alternated sets with a Latin jazz band, and the crowd appreciated our red-white-and-blue Americana show. The other fill-in gig was a party at the Riverdale Yacht Club for summer associates of the law firm Curtis-Mallet. My old pal Billy Jones, from Scotland, was in town on holiday and he sat in with us at a jam session, as did his step-daughter Emily Brown, who sang in a nice sultry alto voice. We adjourned after the gig to Dinny's house up on the hill overlooking the Hudson and the Palidsades of New Jersey, where the jam continued. I got to play tag-team piano, alternating with the talented young composer and pianist Elizabeth Adams -Chopin, Schubert, Brahms, Liszt. Now as we get toward the end of July, the band gears up for a very busy August, with gigs on Cape Cod, Long Island, New England, the Adirondacks, and another midwest tour out to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. And we're very happy to have Pablo Prosper, from St Thomas and St Croix, and Dominica, with us playing percussion and singing great reggae. He has been a welcome addition all summer. Hope to hear from some of you, and be sure to check the tour schedule and come and see us. Ain't it great to be alive! FIDDLER

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