I spoke with the promoter, Mr. Randy Resnick about why this weekend, and what it is they are offering. Then I spoke to Mr. Fred Scribner, a truly talented musician, who is one of the featured performers on Saturday night.
It sounds like a great time and Blues411 is thrilled to be part of it both as an attendee and as a Media Partner.
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Blues411: Randy, why did you choose the Thanksgiving weekend for this inaugural Sullivan County Blues & Music Festival?
Randy Resnick (RR): We were thinking that Thanksgiving weekend would be good since its not really a vacation weekend. Most People travel but not too far, and after two days with family, everyone needs a little break. So we are hoping they come out and see the festival which features some of the best acts in the area.
B411: True, that’s what got me interested, plus the fact, as you said, two days with family is about enough. Not for me but for them I am pretty high maintenance.
RR: I have heard that about you (we chuckle). We are looking forward to making the annual festival a regionally recognized and accredited event. We have tried very hard to make this “the whole package“. We have and awesome venue combined with the best regional acts from the area. If it pans out, we will bring in some nationally recognized artists next year.
B411: I think you have already done that with some of these artists – Chris O’Leary is certainly nationally recognized as is Alexis P. Suter and Murali Coryell.
B411: Where is Rock Hill, NY, how far from NYC or Philly?
RR: The Sullivan Hotel is a 70 room boutique hotel located 90 miles from NYC in the Sullivan County Catskills (hence the name “The Sullivan”). Newly renovated, we are trying to brand the event as an Upscale Blues Experience. We are also 3 hours from Philly.
B411: The Sullivan County Catskills have long been a destination for recreation and creative expression. Correct?
RR: Yes, as the home of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Festival the area holds a place in the annals of popular music history that few others can match.Add to that Levon Helm’s Ramble, and others who live and create in the area make it truly a gem of a spot in NY State.
B411: Besides The Sullivan, are there restaurants or other spots to do stuff when not listening to music? What’s on tap for the grub, as that’s always important to me and my poor neglected belly, who has been named Timmy by my dear nephew.
RR: Glad you asked, We are offering a southern menu New Orleans style. Po Boys, Gumbo, Jambalaya, crawfish, catfish with rice and beans to name a few. We wanted to get in the blues vibe with the food and create a holistic event. Feeding the spirit and the Timmy’s of all attendees. Plus there are walking paths and other activities available since we are a resort.
B411: Times are 4pm till 2am Friday, and 11am till 2am Saturday. Where can people find the event on the web?
RR: On Facebook you can go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/451214084924251/?fref=ts
For tickets to the event visit: http://sullivanblues.eventbrite.com/
To view the venue and see what we have to offer: http://www.the-sullivan.com/
B411: Randy, thank you, looking forward to seeing many friends there, I am now going to corner Fred Scribner for the artistic side of the gig.
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B411: Fred, tell me a little bit about yourself and your music history? Who or what is Midnight Slim?
Fred Scribner (FS): Midnight Slim was first started in 1977 at a place called the Eagle’s Nest in Cragmore, NY. Into the 80′s we would be jamming regularly and met some great guys such as Murali Coryell – I was such a big fan of his father, Larry, Murali would come around and we would just jam and have a blast.
So into the late 80′s my good buddy, Joe DiFazio, was working at WFAN in NYC working for Imus – of course it didn’t ring a bell at all – and was looking for blues instrumentals and something might happen with it so from there it grew.
B411: Now did you record those in your own studio or go to the station (which would be better, I think)?
FS: Oh no,I would go down to the WFAN studios and record on these giant reel-to-reel machines, and I gave him the first ones and he really liked them. So after a while I figured that if he liked these thrown together pieces of music that I created in the studio that I should spend some of my own money and produced some of my own stuff with the band.
So I went from getting an occasional mention on air and being joked about, to getting regular mention to being featured musical artist. Well his show got picked up by MSNBC and we went along for the ride.
B411: You never know, really do you? So tell me about Little Sammy Davis.
FS: So in 1991, my brother told me about this guy who was sitting in at the jam in Poughkeepsie, who happened to have played with my very favorite blues guitar players ever Earl Hooker.
B411: Incredible….THE Earl Hooker
FS: Yes, see I was doing all instrumentals for Imus so I was looking for a singer and Sammy was there. So I introduced Imus to Sammy, and he loved him, we then became regular guests on the show and it was great.
B411: Didn’t Sammy play with Levon Helm & the Barnburners back in the day?
FS: Yes, at that time one of my students John Rocklin loved Levon Helm/The Band fan, so he took Sammy to see Levon and it turned out that Levon loved Sammy and invited him along on some gigs.
Levon had just gotten throat cancer and he couldn’t sing, so they had Chris O’Leary fronting the band and Sammy would sit in, so after a while Sammy got me into the band with Levon.
B411: I love the chain of connection it is so true, everybody knows somebody so be kind to all.
B411: So what happened to Sammy? Why is this a tribute to him, besides his pedigree?
FS: Sammy had two strokes within a short time, the last left his right side paralyzed and he’s been in a nursing home ever since. We don’t want this to be a benefit we want this to celebrate Sammy while he is still alive, and yes, Sammy will be there to visit.
This event will be just a few days before he turns eighty-three – November 28th – so it will be a festival of friends and of some of Sammy’s near and dear friends and some of the best of the best of our area’s artists who are neighbors too.
B411: Very cool, very cool. Now you and Sammy were nominated for a Handy Blues Award in 1996 as Best New Artist.
FS: Yes we were, and our album “I Ain’t Lyin’” on Delmark Records was awarded Comeback Album of the Year by Living Blues magazine.
B411: Sweet, so how did this event wind up at The Sullivan?
FS: My old friend Randy Resnick who used to book me at The Dodge IN, so I was trying to get him to book me and my singer Laurieanne, but he wasn’t really looking to book bands there. So on my way out I mentioned that The Sullivan might be a perfect spot for a festival, and he seemed to like that idea and here we are today on the verge of getting it done.
B411: I’m all for that approach, ya never know if ya don’t ask.Thanks Fred, the more I learn about this event the more I can’t wait to get there.
To learn more about Little Sammy Davis (tho’ it is a little out of date) :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Sammy_Davis
Fred Scribner can be found at: http://www.reverbnation.com/fredscribner
and on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/fscribner?fref=ts
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: courtesy of Artist, Leslie K. Joseph, Matt Price.