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Two bands, one big CD release party

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This weekend, two bands with big followings in the Adirondacks will be releasing new CDs. They have decided to join together to hold one big CD release party in Lake Placid. Joel Hurd tells us more.

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Frankenpine and Big Slyde are two bands with deep roots in the North Country. The members of Big Slyde all live in the Saranac Lake area. And while Frankenpine is based in Brooklyn, several of its members lived in the tri-lakes area for years. Another thing the two bands have in common is Jeff Oehler, the co-owner of Beehive Productions in Saranac Lake. He served as the engineer on both bands’ new CDs.

“The commonalities certainly are the acoustic instrumentation and there’s a lot of overlap in that area. Musically speaking, they’re doing quite different things. It’s a little bit hard to put your finger on describing what those differences are,” said Oehler. “Big Slyde, for example, is very groove-oriented and very bouncy, if you will. There’s a lot of improvisation that goes in a very different direction from the kind of improvisation and song-writing direction that Frankenpine comes from.”

Oehler explained that Frankenpine has four or five vocalists that all trade off on lead and background as well as on songwriting. “Really they’re coming from two very, very different places, but they do sit very well and comfortably together and complement each other very well,” said Oehler of the two bands.

In addition to his Saranac Lake studio, Oehler takes his multi-track recording set-up on the road. He records concerts and festivals all along the east coast. This portability came in handy for Frankenpine’s new CD. Ned Rauch plays guitar and mandolin with the group and, when the time came to do more recording, decided not to book a studio; instead, he booked his parents’ house, which is an old, converted barn in the Hudson Valley.

“We had a good time in the studio last time around, but we also thought that it was a little bit constraining and we wanted to not be so aware of the meter running constantly, which you are in a recording studio. It adds up pretty quickly,” said Rauch. “And I’ve played music in my parents’ house a lot and the band all got together and went to test it out there, and it turns out the instruments all sounded really good in this room.”

The band members decided to camp out there for about 10 days, and they either took off from work or commuted from the city. Rauch said, “We could have sort of a sit-in, I guess, with all of our instruments and not have to worry about the meter running and just record when we felt that we were in a good spot.”

Unlike Frankenpine, Big Slyde has a bit of a funkier sound, and they use some instruments not normally found in traditional music such as bouzouki and cello. Mikey Portal, the group’s guitarist, said, “When it came to different instruments coming in, if it worked on a personal level and it worked sonically, we were more than happy to keep going with it. I think that’s helped us sort of step away or take a road less travelled, which for me is very exciting because I never wanted to sound typical or generic or fit into a certain box easily. So I think it’s helped us be more creative and develop a more unique sound and for that, I’m excited.”

When singer and bouzouki player Hannah Doan steps up to the microphone, the band steps even further away from tradition and even dabbles in motown. Portal said, “She has just such a natural, soulful voice, and it’s so fun to put banjo in particular underneath these old Motown tunes. It’s fun, it gets people moving and Hannah just knocks it out of the park with her voice. So yeah, like I said, we’re open to anything; if it works, it works. We try to keep it light and fun; even though we take the music serious, it’s great to have twists and turns and sort of surprise people. And if we do do covers, we like to make them sort of our own or at least something you wouldn’t expect from our band.”

Frankenpine released their last CD just over a year ago. Rauch says that in that short time, the five members of the band have spread out the writing and playing responsibilities to give this new record an even more cohesive sound. Rauch and Matthew and Kim Chase did the majority of the writing for the last CD. “We were all really excited to record these songs,” Rauch said. “I guess this time around, it was really exciting because everybody in the band contributed as a songwriter which wasn’t the case last time around so much.”

Bass player Colin DeHond had just joined the band when the last CD was recorded. “This time around, he was able to write some songs and contribute that way,” said Rauch. He added that his wife, Liz Bisbee, also began to develop as a songwriter and said, “There’s all these different perspectives and all these different voices coming into play, and we were all really excited to get together and hammer them out.”

Frankenpine’s new CD is titled “In That Black Sky,” and Big Slyde’s is called “Honey Gold.” They plan to host a joint CD release party this Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

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