WOW.  It is said at the end of every Potter Party by just about everyone in attendance, "This was the best one ever."  How do you go about really conveying that message when it's been said to the point of cliche?  Well, after experiencing every one of the 16 Potter Parties, I can honestly say - without any hesitation or embellishment - this was certainly THE BEST ONE EVER.

Christa and I showed up Wednesday evening - just in time to get a bit of dinner and hang out with some of our favorite friends on earth.  It's nice just settling in and not having to rush into setting up or doing any work (tempting as it may be).  We turned in early, because we knew a whole lot more folks were coming Thursday.  Plus, we had to get up a little early for...

THE FIRST ANNUAL POTTER COUNTY GOLF OUTING!!!  6 of us hit the links for a 9-hole shankathon.  We certainly weren't putting on a clinic, but we sure had a blast.  So, there we are on the 18th tee box (our 9th, as we only played the 'Back 9') and this horn starts honking...a van approaches...it's our old d2 buddies MICHAEL HOERNIG and JOHNNY BIGHAM, driven by our dear friend, DAN FLYNN!  They pull over, we all exchange some bear hugs and we ask JB, who loves golf, "Hey, you wanna rip one?"  JB's a little unsure of where he wants to play it...it looks a bit far to carry onto the fairway, but what the hell?  He tees one up and rips a 250+ yard drive right up the middle.  Hops back in the van and says, "Thanks!"  Best shot of the day.  Keep this in mind, all you hackers - THURSDAY IS NOW GOLF DAY.  We hope that 6 becomes more in the years to come.

Back at the ranch on Thursday, just about all of the musicians have arrived, so what should we do?  Our weekend's Chief of Production, MIKE SOUTH has the system set up enough to make some noise, so.....a little impromptu jam!!!  "Thrill Is Gone," "Tennessee Jed," and a few other gems get tossed around with great energy.  There's so much emotion going on with the musicians at this party.  There's the "I'm so excited to be here," emotion; the "I'm so excited to see you," emotion; the "I hope I remember what the hell I'm supposed to do," emotion and my all-time favorite - the "I'm just so happy to be here, let's do whatever we want to," emotion.  That's when we put aside the stuff we PLANNED to do and get down & dirty with stuff we just WANT to do in the spur of the moment.  This happened Thursday night and more was to come during Saturday night's All-Star Jam....

Friday, the place really started filling up with tents and the ol' Potter Vibe was in full swing.  I must digress momentarily...Thursday, we were introduced to the newest toy in Potter County.  What happens when you empty a silo and fill it with baseball bats, rubber mallets, ballpene hammers, super-bouncy balls and drummers?  Why, you get the WORLD'S LARGEST STEEL DRUM, is what happens!!!  Intense.  Insane.  Could only be concocted by the mad scientists in Potter County....just unbelievable.  Now, back to Friday's music!  PBJ (PAPPY'S BLUES JUNCTION - a musical project I started several years back with some friends...no rehearsals all together, just get there and rip it!) started the day off with a kick-ass set of tunes.  I was joined by the regular Potter PBJ lineup of MIKE "TOUR PRO" TONY from theCAUSE on Keys, CHRISTIAN "THE EYE" SALCEDO from The Mental Notes, d2 & Nine Eyes on Bass, his wife ELLEN GEYER SALCEDO - also from The Mental Notes - on Acoustic Guitar & Vocals, DOUG McMINN on Sax and my best man, "CAPTAIN" PAT KELLY from d2, The Mental Notes & Nine Eyes AND DAVE GERSHMAN from d2 on Drums.  Also, joining us for a few tunes this year was CHERYLANN HAWK from theCAUSE on Vocals!  Here's what we did...

U.S. Blues, Tush, I'm Only Sleeping > You Can't Do That, Joe's Garage > Hotel California, Revolution, I Feel Fine, The Wedge > Alabama Getaway, It Makes No Difference, Sexy Sadie* > Dig A Pony* > Second That Emotion*, Pride Of Cucamonga, Let It Be > One After 909, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band > Sgt. Pepper's Reprise.
*with Cherylann Hawk

Next up was a lovely set of music from CHERYLANN HAWK & FRIENDS.  This set was filled with Cherylann's amazing original songs, as well as some wonderfully chosen cover tunes.  I was really honored to be a part of this set of music.  Cherylann's songs hit me right in the heartstrings and to be able to play them makes them even more near and dear to me.  Other "Friends" playing in this set were "PROFESSOR" DAVID TAUBERG on Bass & Mandolin, ALI SCHELIN on Vocals and JILL PAONE SIMMONS on Vocals.  This set also features my wife, Christa's, writing debut.  She collaborated with Cherylann on the second song of the set, "I'll Show You A Way." Way to go, Christa!!!

Summertime, I'll Show You A Way***, I Feel Like An Angel*, Two Of Us, Things We Said Today, Get Back, Good To Be Able*, Killing The Blues, Midnight Sunrise**, Bits & Pieces*, Listen To My Heart*, Look My Way*, Part Of Me*, Can You Feel*, Rays That Shine*, A Little Nudge* > It's All Good*.
* written by Cherylann Hawk
** written by Cherylann Hawk & Jason Treuman
*** written by Cherylann Hawk & Christa Weingrad

After Cherylann was our friend DOUG McMINN, playing a killer set of acoustic blues.  Doug never ceases to amaze folks with his sax when he's playing with d2 or PBJ, but when he starts playing guitar and belting out with his beautiful voice - that's when the jaws hit the floor.  He's an incredible talent and if you ever get the chance to catch him - whether it be solo, with his partner Hannah or with LUMPY GRAVY or ANY lineup - drop what you're doing and go see him.  You will not be disappointed.  ***SETLIST TO BE POSTED SOON!!!***

Friday night's PIG ROAST was - again - HUGE.  Not only do Max, Max, Katy, Manuel and the boys make a killer pig (and they really do make an exquisite meal), folks bring down a whole bunch of goodies to help fill your plate even more.  Most people think of camping out and eating like birds going hand-in-hand.  Not at this party.

It was now time for DOUBLE DOSE (d2) to hit the stage.  Led by MICHAEL HOERNIG on Guitar & Vocals, we hadn't played all together in quite a long time...but we would surely give it the ol' Potter try.  BROTHER JON HOERNIG and CHRISTIAN SALCEDO took turns on the Bass, CAPTAIN PAT & DAVE GERSHMAN on the Double Drums, myself on Guitar & Vocals and JB on Keyboards - the old crew was back together.  I must say - we freakin' ROCKED!!!  It was great trading licks with Mikey & JB - like no time had passed (except now I can hang a little better with them, trading licks!), playing some kick-ass Grateful Dead as well as a few originals, too.  We rocked until 1:30 a.m. - a Potter "no-no" for Friday Night, but we got a late start and hey, we just couldn't stop!  Here's the setlist, that includes a big ol' DOUBLE BASS JAM between JON HOERNIG & theCAUSE's DAVID TAUBERG!

SET I:  Jack Straw, Sugaree, Bertha, Stagger Lee, Katie Moon* > In Recline**, New Minglewood Blues, Hey Pocky Way+, Music Never Stopped+ > Deal+.
SET II: Samson & Delilah, China Cat Sunflower > Cumberland Blues, Man Smart / Woman Smarter > Drums > Double Bass Jam# > The Other One > Eyes Of The World > Looks Like Rain > Sympathy For The Devil > Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad > Not Fade Away.
ENCORE: Scape The Goat ***.
* written by Eric "Pappy" Weingrad
** written by Michael "Foot" Hoernig & Jon Hoernig
*** written by Michael "Foot" Hoernig & Eric "Pappy" Weingrad
+ with Jill Paone Simmons on Vocals
# with "Professor" David Tauberg on Bass

Saturday morning in Potter County.  Electric.  The Vibe is really hummin' now.  Lots of people saying, "I can't believe it's Saturday!  What an amazing Friday!!!"  Could it possibly get any better?  I had a feeling it would and I was not disappointed.  We'd had a good bit of rain over the past 3 days.  But Saturday was simply gorgeous.  The sun was shining bright and the summer breeze was blowing.  A simply PERFECT day.  Paper doves flying through the sky...the smell of Pot Luck preparations...let's start the day with a nice little acoustic duet....

Me & my old partner of many years, MICHAEL HOERNIG played a small set of some of our old favorites.  It's always such a treat (to ME!) to play JUST with Michael.  We have had a wonderful symbiotic musical relationship for many years.  Something I know will never go away.  We could go years without seeing each other and I know that as soon as the two of us sit down, the magic comes right out of the box.

Deep Elem Blues, Mrs. Robinson, Little Sadie, Kodachrome > Children Of The Carousel* > Black Peter.

Back to some electric groovin'!!  THE MENTAL NOTES in their 2nd Potter appearance hit the stage with some amazing songs.  CHRISTIAN SALCEDO on Guitar & Vocals, ELLEN GEYER SALCEDO on Acoustic Guitar & Vocals, JON HOERNIG on Bass and PAT KELLY on Drums were joined by ALI SCHELIN on Vocals, MIKE TONY on Keyboards and DAVE "EL TEMPO" GERSHMAN on Drums...and they really put on a stellar set.


Volunteers, Listen To The Music, Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, Comes A Time (Neil Young), Friend Of The Devil, The Core, Summer Breeze, Young Americans, Rhiannon, California Dreamin', Aimee, Handle With Care, Wake Up Little Susie, When Will I Be Loved, Keep On Growing.

Women. On. Top.  This could go so many places, but really what it was is Potter County's newest Super Group.  This was the brainchild of JILL PAONE SIMMONS who, at her first Potter (XV) said, "We need to have a set of songs done by the women around here!"  And surely enough that's what we got.  JILL put together an amazing band consisting of herself on Vocals, ALI SCHELIN on Vocals, CHERYLANN HAWK on Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Mandolin & Vocals and Potter First-Timer, PATTI SPADARO on Guitar & Vocals.  Joining this amazing group for a few tunes were ELLEN GEYER SALCEDO on Vocals, DAVID TAUBERG on Bass & Mandolin and MICHAEL HOERNIG on Acoustic Guitar.  These gals (and a couple of guys) were known as WOMEN ON TOP and to me - this was the musical highlight of the weekend.  The voices were so sweet.  The song selection could not have been more perfect.  It was just beautiful in every sense of the word.

Let The Good Times Roll, Rhythm Of Life*, Walk All Over God's Heaven, Don't Think Twice - It's All Right, Tonight**, Ripple, I Know You Rider, Love Me Like A Rock, Rain, No Rain, Something To Talk About, Watch It Fly**, Hard To Be Here*, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.
* written by Cherylann Hawk
** written by Patti Spadaro

POT LUCK DINNER was OVER the top!!!  Once again, everyone gets their chance to play chef and once again...there were NO disappointments!  EVERYTHING was incredible!! And there was SOOOO much from which to choose.  I'm really glad I didn't have to play right after dinner....I don't know how to belch in the key of G.
Thank you to all those who pitch in and make this dinner more and more special each year.  We are all truly lucky to be eating likeroyalty at this party!!!

After dinner, we were graced with music from THE HOEBROS.  Not to be confused with the JoBros, this is the HOERNIG BROTHERS' band.  MIKE & JON HOERNIG on Gutar & Vocals and Bass, respectively were joined by JOHNNY "JB" BIGHAM on Keys, and PAT KELLY & DAVE GERSHMAN on Drums for a rippin' set of tunes.  Also joining in were ALI SCHELIN, JILL PAONE SIMMONS & CHERYLANN HAWK on Vocals and I got to sit in on a couple of tunes, too!  These guys brought some killer energy, as the electric Saturday night vibe was now in full swing!  ***SETLIST TO BE POSTED SOON***

After a great FIREWORKS DISPLAY, it was time for theCAUSE to hit the stage.  DAVID TAUBERG on Bass & Vocals, MIKE TONY on Keyboards, CHERYLANN HAWK, JILL PAONE SIMMONS & ALI SCHELIN on Vocals, myself on Guitar & Vocals and the hardest working man in Potter County this weekend, MIKE SOUTH on Drums played another marathon set of some finely (if I do say so myself) chosen songs that we'd been working on exclusively for this show.  Joining us after "The Load" for the remainder of the set was the amazing PATTI SPADARO on Guitar.  I just knew she'd have a great time at this party and she threw it down with authority for the best audience in the world. Here's what we did:

Cats Under The Stars, High Time, Sittin' On Top Of The World+, Operator, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, The Load*, Passenger, Strange Man, Blow Away+, Loose Lucy, It Must Have Been The Roses, Lazy Lightning > Supplication > Crazy Fingers > Mr. Charlie, Box Of Rain, Get It While You Can, Saint Stephen > Cassidy > Saint Stephen > Wharf Rat > Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Never Alone** > Franklin's Tower.
+ denotes first time played by theCAUSE
* written by Cherylann Hawk
** written by Eric "Pappy" Weingrad

The big ALL-STAR JAM ensued after a decent set-break and the rest, as they say, is history.

I can't convey enough what this weekend means to me, on a personal level.  I really want to thank each and every person who came to this party.  Each and every one of you brought something special and shared it.  That's what this weekend is all about.  I know the "recaps" are mostly about the music, but the party isn't mostly about the music.  It's only mostly about ONE THING.  That is the collective effort and energy put forth by all those who come.  It's the most magical and mystical event of the year....only 359 days left till I leave for #17.



GO TO THE "PHOTOS" PAGE to see the creation of Pappy's new guitar, built by Master Builder of Stringed Instruments, Mr. S.B. MacDonald.
13 years ago, Pappy was given a plank of Tiger Maple which was to one day be turned into a guitar.  The plank was originally slated to be sold to Gibson by the infamous Potter County Wood Man, who was selling Tiger Maple to Gibson at the time for their historical series of guitars (several of which have ended up in the Smithsonian).  This piece was considered, by the Wood Man, to be about the finest of the crop and he figured he'd save it for something truly special.
10 years later, Pappy found the most special of luthiers in S.B. MacDonald and the two of them have designed what has ended up as Pappy's main instrument.  Check out the photos to follow its metamorphisis from beginning to FINAL PIECE!.
And check out S.B. MacDonald's website at
www.customguitars.com and his BLOG, too 
(This guitar appears in December, January AND February Blogs!)