The Puddle City Bluegrass Band
had a brief but intense life spanning just a little over three years
from 1969 to 1972.
Meeting initially in the large, all-tile bathroom in the basement of
Reed College's Elliot Hall (right next to the room that housed the brand new
computer), the band consisted almost entirely of Reed College students
through its entire existence.
The band's early fans were members of the Reed community (e.g. James Dickey,
who wrote Deliverance -- one of Puddle City's showpiece instrumentals
appears in the movie. . . coincidence?) but later fans included people from
all over the northwest.
The band moved to Olympia in 1971 when Peter got a job on the staff and
teaching at the Evergreen State College due to
his multidisciplinary interests in the arts and computers. The
band used Olympia as its base to play a busy schedule of weekly gigs in both
Portland and Seattle as well as concerts, dances, parties, and other special
events anywhere within driving distance.
Fortunately, a producer at Rex Recording studios became interested in the
band and recorded a few 45s, and the Evergreen State College had a beautiful
new recording studio that the band helped try out by providing music for
fledgeling engineers to record, and Portland's Michael O'Rourke recorded
several local performances of the band to include on his anthology of
NW bluegrass called Oregon Territory,
so there are some audio recordings of the band available.
Further, the Evergreen Library loaned out video equipment to staff and
students, so one evening the band brought a video tape deck and camera to
their weekly Frankenstein's Tavern gig in Portland and recorded the first
set of their usual four hour performance. In 1971 video cameras needed a
lot of light, so these clips are dark, but otherwise remarkably free of
technical problems (other than the noisy tavern crowd).
Puddle City at Reed College's St. George's Day celebration, probably April
left to right: David Butts - guitar, Greg Booth - mandolin,
Peter Langston - guitar, Chris Montague - banjo,
& Diane Desbrisay - fiddle. Hidden in back: Gray Pederson -
Puddle City was always known for its tasteful arrangements of little-known
In this early photograph the band is recreating its sensational
triple-banjo rotating spectacle supersolo for an esoteric tune called
Foggy Mountain Breakdown while fiddler Diane looks on in disbelief.
left to right: parts of Greg Booth, Dave Butts, and Chris Montague, each
playing half of two different banjos, a distant fan wondering what we're
doing, Peter Langston playing guitar, Gray Pederson playing bass, & Diane
Desbrisay trying to pretend she doesn't know us.
The original Puddle City business card
This card carries the image of one of two realistic paintings of the band
created by a fan, Constance Earnshaw -- thanks, Connie!
(Click on the card to see the original poster.)
Polishing Greg's Car
An early photo of the band posing on Greg's car
left to right: David, Diane, Chris, Greg, Peter, Gray.
Puddle City in 1970
Puddle City performing in the Reed College Coffeeshop
Top, left to right: Peter, Greg, Gray, & David.
Bottom, left to right: Gray, Peter's hat, Peter, & Greg.
Puddle City establishes a new musical venue in Portland
The band convinced Frankenstein's Tavern on Front Street in Portland
to try live music (thanks, Michael!) and it quickly became the local
left to right: Peter, Chris, Diane, David, & Greg.
Puddle City Posters from 1972
(Click on any poster to see a larger version.)
Puddle City Records
Puddle City released two 45-rpm records (singles) on the Cricket label.
It's too bad the movie Deliverance didn't come out a bit earlier...
Puddle City with Washboard
Greg, Sharyle, and Peter jam with washboard player Billy Hults
(between Greg and Sharyle with cigarette). Well, okay, so we were
actually pretending not to notice Billy because we knew he'd get
all the applause if he stuck around. You can hear him get all the applause
on the CD of our Civic Auditorium set (on "Bye Bye Blues" -- see below).
Puddle City in 1972
The band in its 1972 form, top step to bottom: Chris Montague (with
the banjo), Kishka (with the dog collar), Greg Booth (with the mandolin),
Sharyle Patton (with the look), Tom Curry (with the fiddle),
and Peter Langston (with the guitar).
Puddle City in 2010
Portland, OR, 1/30/10:
The Reed College Alumni Office will be reuniting
the original Puddle City Bluegrass Band
to play a Dance/Concert during Reed Reunions 2010,
according to well-informed sources.
The band members will be coming in from
Alaska, California, Oregon, Utah, & Washington State to play
Saturday night, June 5th at Reed College.
While the Puddle City band members are gathered in the Portland area,
the band may also play some local public performances, and
may even put on a public show down in Bolinas, California,
Portland, OR, 4/29/10
The rumors appear to be true! The poster shown here (left) was
leaked by a low security print shop in nearby Seattle, WA, and is
believed to be genuine. If so, Puddle City will give three
separate performances on as many nights in the Portland area.
The rumors about a performance in California's hip Marin County
have yet to be verified, but are appearing more and more likely.
EVEN LATER-BREAKING UPDATE!
Bolinas, CA, 5/10/10
More rumors are panning out! The poster shown here (right) was
intercepted by a well-known mapping and search engine company on
their regular sweep of backwoods Marin County Wi-Fi traffic a
I'm keeping my eye out for other bits and pieces left behind by the band.
If you have any Puddle City
let me know via
- Sound samples
Puddle City on CD?
While we're at it,
I do have a recording of a Puddle City concert appearance
(at the Portland Civic Auditorium in April, 1972).
· Little Maggie
· Fiddle Medley
· Bye Bye Blues
· Rocky Top
· Same Old Man Working At The Mill
· Blackberry Blossom
· Old Slewfoot
· I Don't Love Nobody
· The Cuckoo
· Black Mountain Rag
If you would be interested in getting a CD copy of that concert set,
it's available as CAT-118CD, and includes the following tracks:
I also have a CD (CAT-119CD) of some Puddle City studio recordings,
four 45-rpm single sides, and a live recording of a KWJJ disk jockey playing
a Puddle City acetate test pressing on the air -- 13 tracks in all.
· Rocky Run (take 1)
· Old Home Place
· Blackberry Blossom
· Duelin' Banjo
· Take Five
· Love Come Home
· Mandolin King Rag
· Kentucky Mandolin
· Clinch Mountain Backstep
· I've Just Seen A Fiddle Tune Medley
· Alligator Man
· Ghost Riders in the Sky
· KWJJ Radio aircheck (Rocky Run take 2)
To get either of these CDs, send me e-mail
and ask about CAT-118CD and/or CAT-119CD.
An unsung hero of Puddle City, Michael Krasik, the band's friend and manager
who handled all those tense negotiating moments...
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