The band was named after a raised landform in the Intervale, north and slightly west of Burlington. In the six years or so that Pine Island performed, the band appeared throughout Vermont, New England, with forays into New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Canada. wherever we appeared, we had the luck to be met by enthusiastic audiences. The circumstances that were on our side were our youth and our desire to play as good as we knew how.
In the beginning, Gordon, Tim and myself would crowd into a Rambler American, with all our instruments and a PA. Soon we were a quartet, with David Gusakov on fiddle. Sometime in 1976, we purchased a used blue panel van. It was a little dark, but it got us to the gigs in relative comfort. We set up in gazebos, bandstands and opera houses; on flatbed trucks, on the decks of ferries and on impromptu stages built of dimensioned rough-cut lumber. We performed on lawns. porches. yards. farms. greens and festivals; we played in restaurants, town halls, under tents, under the stars and in clubs so choked with smoke you could barely read the clock to see when it was closing time.
In my imagination, Pine Island is playing in the shade of a gigantic maple, near a stone wall, at the bottom of a large hay meadow, a few weeks after the first cut. There is a slight breeze sifting through the leaves above our heads, and the shade is stricken through with bits of sunlight, making it seem somehow more liquid and alive. We are playing Durang's Hornpipe, as arranged by Alan Munde. There is plenty of time before the show, but no one is in sight, just the unrelenting green of the hay meadow, the pale green of early summer leaves and the weary lichen covered gray of the stones that had been tumbled from their places on the wall by repeated frosts. The music has a peculiar clarity in the broken shade. The tempo is relaxed. The small hiss of the leaves rubbing one against the other in the breeze above our heads provides a sonic scrim against which the notes of the banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar and bass stand out in relief. We listen as keenly as we might. The moment seems to widen into the sort of forever I had known when I was younger-long afternoons at the swimming hole, that sense of an interminable summer... It occurs to me that this image may have visited me first in a dream, or that several memories had been conflated into one by the passage of years. Something in these recordings brought the image to me again. Something of who we were as a band is also evident.
Live music hovers somewhere just above the threshold of Webster's definition of ephemerasomething not intended to have lasting value. Music, like dreams, broadens the moments in which it is enacted or re-enacted. One part of the musician's dream feeds on the hope that the music will be played again. These cuts are offered in the spirit of that hope: to provide a few minutes in which the music we once played can be heard again.
Jim McGinniss, 8.21.03
1. Clinch Mountain Backstep (R.Stanley)
©(p) 1978/2003 by Pine Island and After The Show Productions |
All Jim McGinniss songs published by Mule-zic Publishing © 1978, BMI
All Compositions by Gordon Stone Jeezum Crow Music © 1978, ASCAP
All Compositions by Jim Ryan Sanguine Citrus Music © 1978, BMI
All Compositions by David Gusakov Czar's Music © 1978, BMI
The Pine Island recordings on this CD were compiled from four sources:
1. Seventh Annual Banjo Contest Craftsbury Common, VT (9/28/74), Green Mountain Records (GMS 1046) 1974. Cut #2.
2. Live Inside Fretless Records (FR 124) 1977. This LP was based on two performances recorded live at the Chelsea House Folklore Center in West Brattelboro, VT in 1976. The tapes were engineered by Bill Gehman. Cuts # 1, 4, 8, 9 and 17.
3. Pine Island Green Mountain Records (GMS 1072) 1979. This album was recorded at Mountainside Recording Studios, Garvey Hill, in Northfield VT, in the winter of 1978/1979. The sessions were engineered by Robert Hurley and mixed by Pine Island and Robert Hurley. Cuts # 10, 11, 12, 13 ,15, 16, 19, 23, 24.
4. Vermont Public Radio (VPR) Concert 2/6/78. Cuts # 3, 5, 6, 7, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22.
Members of Pine Island on this CD are Tim Mckenzie, lead vocals on cuts # 3, 11, 13, 20 and 22, and guitar on all cuts; Gordon Stone, banjo on cuts # 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 17, 18, 20, 21 and 22; David Gusakov, vocal harmony and fiddle on all cuts except #2. Jimmy Ryan provides lead vocals on cuts 5, 7, 8, 10 ,15, 16 and 24, and plays mandolin on all cuts except #2. Jim McGinniss provides lead vocal on cut #18 and bass on all cuts. Chris Lee plays banjo on cuts # 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 23 and 24. Gordon Stone plays pedal steel on cuts # 11 and 24, and rhythm guitar on cuts # 17, 18, and 20. Anne Wallace plays recorder and David Gusakov plays prepared piano on cut #23.
For their contribution to this effort, Pine Island would like to thank Brett Hughes for providing graphic design. Al Abair and Joel Snyder, Jr. provided crucial support in the production of the CD. The compilation was mastered by André Maquera, West Street Digital Recording, Fairfield, VT. Special thanks are also due to Marion Ettlinger for permission to use the 1977 photo of Pine Island that appears on the cover of this CD.
We would like to thank Chris Brynes of the University of Vermont, Bailey Howe Library, Special Collections, for making the master tapes of Live Inside available. Thanks also to Fred "Chico" Lager for his support and advice early in the life of the project. We would like to thank Vermont Public Radio (VPR) for providing digital copies of Pine Island's performance on Vermont Artists in Performance, with Frank Hoffman, which first aired on February 6, 1978. The original recording was made by Ira Willner in the VPR studios. On August 8, 2002, this performance was re-broadcast in its entirety in conjunction with VPR's 25th year celebration on All the Traditions, hosted by Robert Resnick. VPR kindly made digital copies of the original broadcast available to Pine Island. VPR also provided valuable support in the form of a media sponsorship for the September 19, 2003 reunion concert at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Thanks especially to Robert Resnick of VPR for his enthusiasm and support in all phases of this project, and to Andy Sacher and the Vermont Bluegrass website (www.vtbluegrass.org). Thanks are also due to the members of Pine Island for their acts of kindness and their feats of memory.