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York County Jug Band Lands Recording Contract - abc27 WHTM

York County Jug Band Lands Recording Contract

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    A big reason why Darlene Barrick fought to save the Mahanoy Union Church from bulldozers lies in the small cemetery next to it."This is Ulysses Grant Baker. My grandfather Baker," said Barrick, pointing to one of several headstones in the church cemetery with direct family ties. "He helped build the church."At another stone she added, "This is my Uncle Albert who fought in World War One."Since closing in the early 1960's, the church suffered heavily from neglect and vandalism. But stepping in...More >>
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    Friday, August 15 2014 9:17 AM EDT2014-08-15 13:17:26 GMT
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  • Union County Museum Honors Buggy Makers

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    The Buggy Museum in Mifflinburg is a tribute to a transportation industry that once thrived in the heart of Union county."They think they're coming to learn about one buggy maker," said museum executive director Bronwen Sanders, "when, in fact, we actually had 90 buggy makers in town."A visit there is a unique look at carriage making, housed in the refurbished buildings where William Heiss, his family and a handful of workers once turned out much in demand buggies, carriages and sleighs."Peop...More >>

He's already one of the biggest solo names in cigar box guitars. But now, York county musician Shane Speal has landed a recording contract for a quartet of unique players that he fronts, The Snake Oil Band. During a recording break at Equinox Music and Arts in Dallastown, Speal talked about the band's growing appeal.

"This band is made up of nothing but friends that hang out in a bar on a Wednesday night," said Speal, explaining how the band formed.

"The only way I can describe this band in a one sentence is Black Sabbath as a Jug band," he chuckled.

Speal said his band offers something different and unpredictable.

"We like the jug band. We like Delta blues. The gritty sound of the old Mississippi. But we also like to rock it out."

"We got cigar box guitar, which I play," said Speal. "And a washboard played by West Coast transplant Ronn Benway, a washtub played by "Farmer" Jon Sprenkle, and harmonica, handled amazingly by Aaron Lewis. And the drum is an electrified soda crate that I stomp on with my foot."

"You never expect someone to come up after listening to four strings, a washboard, a harmonica on stage and tell you how great it sounds," said Lewis.

"And I just can't get over I got a bucket and a stick and a weed whacker string and it actually makes correct notes," laughed Sprenkle, pointing to his banged instrument.

The group says making an album is great, but performing live is their favorite time.

"The interaction with the people makes it fun," said Benway. "There's really nothing not fun about this."

Speal says their unique sound evolved through playing lots of jobs, not rehearsing.

"We got a recording contract and we haven't had a single practice ever," he laughed. "It's all from jamming on stage."

The album, titled "Holler!," is due out in late May. In the meantime, you can catch the Snake Oil Band at a festival, upscale lounge or seedy bar near you.

"I'm 44 years old, living the dream," said Speal. "Not making a lot of money, but I'm doing the thing I love most."

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