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Snake is Simmie, Vinnie, Burd, Hun and Congo
This photo was taken in summer of 70 at the Yaddo retreat in Saratoga, the town that served as eastern home base while Ithaca was Snake's second home. (photo by Ron Graves)

Snake is Simmie, Vinnie, Burd, Hun and Congo
Snake at Barton Hall, Cornell U, 1970 at the historic "Amerika is Hard to Find" anti-Vietnam war rally. 15,000 attended this concert as well as the refugee Father Daniel Berrigan who, disguised as a helmeted biker, eluded the FBI and made a speech anyway.
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 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, Vine at Albany Jr College, and Simmie at Syracuse U.. Geographic separation insured an appropriate rawness and explorative jam style.

janis joplinSnake 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 Vine quit to take a "real job".

During an extended summer engagement at the Granit Hotel in the Borscht Belt, the band stumbled on this goofy kid Gelles 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".

BurdIn 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 motorccle 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.

snake today

Currently, all the band members are productive and respectable citizens with kids who somehow survived the madness growing and grown. Simeon Slovacek is some kine dean at Cal State LA, Vince Arpey is a master electrician for the City of Saratoga, R. Michael Armstrong (Burd) is a freelance graphic designer in Saratoga, Larry Ward (the Hun) is with the County Social Services in Ithaca, and Peter Chamberlain (congo), who lived in Watkins Glen for 16 years, now lives on Oahu and teaches art at the University of Hawai'i.

The later members, Robert (Flash) Gelles finally left home and estalished a business in Kingston, NY, and Elliot Kessler (last heard from decades ago) became a dentist for the stars in the East Village. Just imagine a drummer working on your teeth.