SNAKE A real piece of history with all the good stories left untold...
This page is dedicated to David Crandell, Snake's first and only manager, who died of a rare form of cancer in 1970 at the age of 23. Curiously, this happened soon after the 1951 panel truck he hauled our p.a. around in died . Hmmmm....
David was a courageous visionary who published Lotus Nexus, Saratoga's first underground newspaper, from the back of a Caroline Street Gallery that band members and the infamous John Wisniewski tried unsuccessfully to maintain.
SNAKE was formed in 1969 by four young musicians that went to school together in Burnt Hills, NY...a town halfway between Albany and Saratoga. The rock-blues "Cream-ish" power quartet added a keyboardist (doc congo) in Fall of 1969. Snake, with two personnel changes, played over 400 gigs before they disbanded in 1973.
Snake's primary source of employment came from clubs and fraternities in college towns throughout NYS but primarily in Ithaca, Albany, Saratoga and Syracuse. The band only got together for performances because Hun was at Cornell, Burd and Congo at Albany State, Vince at Albany Jr College, and Simmie at Syracuse U.. Geographic separation insured an appropriate rawness and explorative jam style.
Snake became the "house band" for the Aerodrome in Schenectady. This most prominent venue for the big rock acts in upstate NY saw Snake as front band for Janis Joplin, Country Joe and the Fish, The MC-5, and Canned Heat.
In 1972 Simmie left the band for grad school and Vince quit to take a "real job".
During an extended summer engagement at the Granit Hotel in the Catskills Borscht Belt, the band stumbled on this goofy kid Gelles due to conversations with his friends at a Ukranian pub. Turned out to be a great player. While Hendrix seemed to live in his amp, we had to teach him the classic Chuck Berry rock endings and other riffs we were weaned on.
New drummer Elliot Kessler was picked up in Ithaca and never quite understood our refusal to practice or our disinterest in "perfection".
Burd In addition to the adrenalin rush of high energy performance the routine adventures encumbent with "gigging around" were too ungloriously dynamic to relate. Watching Animal House years later was like watching old home movies.
Noteworthy: that the northeast motorcycle gang "The Breed" adopted Snake as their band. Playing the annual party in the woods on a pond near the Big Apple rest stop near Suffern was an experience we will all treasure forever. We were also thankful we were the better of the two bands that started that weekend out-only one finished. Driving a mega-truck up the NYS Thruway with a 400-motorcycle escort was sort-of cool too. Thank you Mick (the-Muff) and Beagle Breath.
Currently, all the band members are productive and respectable citizens with kids who somehow survived the madness growing and grown. Simeon Slovacek is/was some kine dean at Cal State LA, Vince Arpey, now retired, was a master electrician for the City of Saratoga and switched to playing keyboards, has an active lounge trio, and runs a studio in his home. R. Michael Armstrong (Burd) is a freelance graphic designer in Saratoga, and has recently returned to making sculpture. Larry Ward (the Hun), now mostly retired, was with the County Social Services in Ithaca, and is still actively playing with a number of Ithaca bands. Peter Chamberlain (doc congo), who lived in Watkins Glen for 16 years, now lives on Oahu and teaches art at the University of Hawai'i. He also plays keyboards with MOKAKI and hosts and records the musicians in his home which transforms into the MOKAKI LOUNGE occasionally
The later members, Robert (Flash) Gelles finally left home and estalished a business in Kingston, NY, and died in the Fall of 2013 after several years of serious illness. Elliot Kessler became a dentist for the stars in the East Village. Just imagine a drummer working on your teeth. He has continued to play in various NY/NJ bands and the occasional Albatross reunion and announced his retirement from drumming in November, 2014
SNAKE Communication Breakdown, Barton Hall, Cornell 1970
SNAKE 1970 Barton Hall, Cornell Route 66
SNAKE 1970 Born on the Bayou
This was supposed to be the last song but enthusiastic throngs prompted an encore of Spoonfull (soon to be uploaded). Technically, the video was unfixable right after intro so I just cut out the first verse and almost gracefully inserted the second verse on beat...almost...and what a surprise we had sped it up a bit. All I could do for now. Simmy's intro was normally used to tune up and start a set...often going on for 15 minutes or so...nice raga.
SNAKE 1970 Barton Hall Cornell U Spoonfull (encore)
SNAKE 98 Tin and Lint Co. Saratoga Catfish Blues
SNAKE 98 Tin and Lint Co. Saratoga Jumpin Jack Flash
SNAKE 98 NSU Tin and Lint Co. Saratoga
SNAKE 98 Crossroads (Clapton) Tin and Lint Co. Saratoga
SNAKE 98 Livin in the USA, Tin and Lint Co. Saratoga, NY
Snake 98 Born on the Bayou at Tin and Lint Co. reunion Saratoga NY 1998
SNAKE 98 Tin and Lint Co. Saratoga, NY Born To Be Wild