Well, it sure was one for the record books.  I personally can't remember a better time up in God's Country.  Sure, the previous 17 were each incredible in their own way.  From the craziness of #1, to bringing up our newborn daughter to #7 (the same year as CR Gruver's first Potter and the B3 was in da house!), to missing 90% of #9 (Tourpro's first year - I'd talked it up so much to him and barely played with him at all)....they've all been amazing experiences in one way or another.

#18 really was something special.  There was something in the air from the moment we pulled in Wednesday evening.  Christa & I arrived with our friends, Becky & Lee in tow (their first time at the big shindig) around dinnertime Wednesday night.  Hugs and smiles abounding.  It was so great to see everyone...and I think there were more Wednesday arrivals than I've seen before.  We didn't stay too late, as we had to be up rather early in the morning for the THIRD ANNUAL POTTER COUNTY GOLF OUTING....so off to bed, we went.

Thursday morning was BEAUTIFUL (actually, the weather the entire time we were there was just spectacular).  Sun shining, clean clubs and shiny balls...golf, that is.  Our group was only 4, this year, but we sure had a great time.  It was a nice day to get out and hit a few (some of us hit a lot more than others), then swing by a nearby diner for some lunch.  I was starting to tingle with anticipation as I knew several more of my friends would be arriving this day.  When we got back to the farm, my suspicions were confirmed.  Lots more arrivals - all setting up their tents & campers.  Quick hugs (gotta get set up), lots of smiles.  This feeling in the air was really spreading now.  A certain calmness, like we all knew it was going to be an incredible weekend and there was no chance of anything stopping us.  Good food all over and plenty of delicious microbrews flowing, Mr. South (otherwise known as Superman) pulled in and a big fireline of burly, strapping hunks (okay most of us are out-of-shape pudgeballs, but that just doesn't have the same ring) unloaded the big van of sound in record time.  I think the microbrews were flowing a lot and hence, no music on Thursday night this year.  The typical tune-up jam would have to take a back seat.  Off to bed again, knowing that the next morning would be action-packed.

We woke up Friday morning and I just couldn't wait to get over to the farm.  I thought I was going to jump out of my skin, but we woke up early enough to take our time and just BE with our gracious host & hostess for our last morning there - we were moving to a different residency today.  We rode over to the farm and the tent population had more than doubled since we left!  I kissed Christa and told her I'd see her at bedtime - it's just what happens up there...SO many people to see....SO many good friends had arrived - some we haven't seen in YEARS!  Tons of big hugs and ear-to-ear smiles everywhere.  The feeling of serenity was contagious.  Everyone had it going on.  Lots of Potter newbies making new friends in a matter of seconds - as if they'd known each other for years.  It was a beautiful Friday morning in Potter County.  The morning turned into early afternoon and - hey!  It's time for some MUSIC!!!

Kicking off the musical festivities this year was PAPPY'S BLUES JUNCTION.  I have had the amazing pleasure of playing with so many amazing musicians in Potter County for many years and this year was no different. This year, I wanted to do something extra special.  Several years ago (close to 10, I'd say), our host Michael told me about this band, Southern Culture On The Skids.  He said, "You really should check these guys out - they're right up your alley."  I said, "I'll look 'em up," but didn't.  The next year, Michael asked me, "So, have you checked out Southern Culture yet?"  "No, but I will," I said and didn't.  The following year, Michael walks up to me and puts a CD in my hand.  "Here."  "Who's this?" I asked. "The band I've been telling you about for 3 years, ya jackass - Southern Culture On The Skids!"  I took the CD and put it in my car.  Three months later, I stumbled across the disc and decided to pop it in.  Immediately, I was taken with this album.  As it always seems to be, I should have listened to Michael the very first time.  This band WAS, indeed, right up my alley!  I loved all the songs - the music was straight-forward, extremely well-played and the lyrics were wonderful!  The album was "Liquored Up & Lacquered Down" and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Fast forward to 2011.  I wanted to thank Michael for turning me on to this album, so I thought there would be no better way than to learn the album & surprise him with it.  It worked.  We opened with the title track and Michael was floored.  "I can't believe they took the time to learn this song," he told my buddy, Lee.  Then we kicked in with track 2 and his jaw dropped.  I think it took Michael until the 4th song to realize we were playing the whole album.  We pulled it off, playwise, fairly well....but the best part was watching Michael tear up the dance floor, completely lost in happiness.  Thank you, my friend, for turning me on to SCOTS.  Stay tuned for some videos & audio downloads from this set....coming soon!

Pappy's Blues Junction (appearing as The Kudzu Vine), Friday, July 1, 2011
Liquored Up & Lacquered Down, You Ain't Hittin' On Nothin', Pass The Hatchet, Corn Liquor, Drunk & Lonesome (Again), Cheap Motels, Just How Lonely, I Learned To Dance In Mississippi, King Of The Mountain, The Corn Rocket, Damaged Goods, Over It, Haw River Stomp.
Pappy - Guitar, Vocals
Jill Simmons - Vocals
Christian Salcedo - Bass, Vocals
Mike "Tourpro" Tony - Keyboards
Pat Kelly - Drums, Vocals

Next up was THE MENTAL NOTES.  Christian & Ellen Salcedo played a beautiful set of ALL BEATLES up on the deck!  It's such a great place to have acoustic music....the open air of Potter County.  Their harmonies were just perfect and the songs had that special feel that only these two lovebirds could make happen.

The Mental Notes, Friday, July 1, 2011
Here Comes The Sun, Norwegian Wood, We Can Work It Out, Cry Baby Cry, Mother Nature's Son, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, Words Of Love, I Will, I've Just Seen A Face, Mean Mr. Mustard > Polythene Pam > She Came In Thru The Bathroom Window, Two Of Us, I'll Follow The Sun.

After the Singing Salcedos, DAVID & PAPPY (aka, 2 LIVE JEW) took to the deck for the second half of the back-to-back acoustic portion of the weekend.  More fun songs in the Potter County sun - a nice lead-in to the next event....

David & Pappy, Friday, July 1, 2011
Panama Red, I'm Only Sleeping*, Pancho & Lefty, Love Please Come Home, I'll Take A Melody, It Hurts Me Too, Doin' That Rag, Pinball Wizard > Death Don't Have No Mercy, Sitting In Limbo, The Great Pretender, Honky Cat, Copperhead Road, Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn).

* with The Mental Notes on backing vocals

The next event?  THE PIG ROAST!  Hundreds of viking-esque hippies descended on this porker and picked it CLEAN!  Oh, the food at Potter County....I seem to go on and on every year about how amazing the food is at this party and I'll never be able to do it justice with words.  Everyone brings their 'a-game' dishes - even on Friday nights.  It's just incredible.  More hugs and food-filled smiles. Obviously, I love food (*blush*) and it is so great to be able to eat amazing food while surrounded by loved ones.  It's better than Thanksgiving!!!  BIG thanks to Max Jr., Max III, Manuel and the gang for putting the Pig Roast together every year!!!

After dinner, it was time for some music from the band that started it all...DOUBLE DOSE!  d2 has been coming to this party for 18 years (hence the party's moniker).  I cannot remember a time when we had so much fun on stage in Potter County.  Sure, the first one with all the unknown was insane....but musically - it was really happening this year.  We missed our 2 brothers who were unable to attend this year - Dave Gershman & CR Gruver, but the rest of the boys stepped up.  Johnny "JB" Bigham was ripping it up on keys (and harmonies!!), Pat Kelly was holding down the fort on drums, Christian Salcedo & Jon Hoerning split the set on bass and Mike "Foot" Hoernig & me were back in the day on guitars.  I don't play straight rhythm guitar much anymore - but there's no place I'd rather do it than onstage for Mikey.  The symbiosis is effortless and this year, it was like no time had passed since the 90's - our glory years.  And were we all ever in our glory this year in Potter County.  We played a set of tunes with Mikey & me on acoustic guitars and set up Friday night's headliner in style....

Double Dose Acoustic, Friday, July 1, 2011
Uncle John's Band, Monkey & The Engineer, A Peaceful Silhouette*, Dupree's Diamond Blues, Bird Song+, On The Road Again+, (switch bass players to Christian Salcedo) When I Paint My Masterpiece, Deep Elem Blues, For What It's Worth+ > Black Peter+ > What's Found**+ > Ripple++.
* written by Michael Hoernig & Jon Hoernig
** written by Pappy & Jon Hoernig
+ with Jill Paone Simmons (backing vocals)
++ with Jill Paone Simmons (lead vocals) and David Tauberg (mandolin)

Friday night prime time....
This year, THE MIKE HOERNIG BAND was our feature act on Friday night.  Mike was supposed to be joined by would-be-first-timer, Brian Reppert from the Good Lovin' Jam Band, but Brian was unable to attend due to work issues at the last minute.  Mikey had to make some last minute decisions in order to pull of a killer set - and that he did.  Guests galore (including one song where he didn't play at all!) and a rippin' good time - the set kicked of with a powerful "Hey Pocky Way" with Johnny "JB" Bigham on vocals!!!  The rest was packed with fun and off-the-cuff jamming, just like the old days.  It doesn't get much better than this.

Mike Hoernig Band, Friday, July 1, 2011
(setlist may be incomplete) Hey Pocky Way, U.S. Blues, Friend Of The Devil, Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain, Big Railroad Blues, Cassidy, Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower.
Mike Hoernig - Guitar, Vocals
Christian Salcedo - Guitar, Vocals
Jon Hoernig - Bass, Vocals
Johnny "JB" Bigham - Keyboards
Pat Kelly - Drums
Guests: Dave Tauberg (bass), Pappy (guitar, vocals), Jill Simmons (vocals)

The rest of the night was filled with laughter, love and LAYERS (brrrrr!) and that vibe just keeps getting stronger....

RISE AND SHINE, PEOPLE!  It's Saturday morning in Potter County!!!  People were beaming from the amazing Friday.  The energy was tangible.  You could feel it everywhere you went.  Everyone you'd talk to was glowing!!!  Truly, we could have all left Saturday morning to go back home and it would have been the best Potter ever!!! BUT...we all know that wasn't gonna happen.

Also missing this year from the party were two of my favorite people in the whole wide world, Ali Schelin & Cherylann Hawk.  Of course, Cherylann was missing because she was (and is still) ready to have a baby!!  But missing these girls means missing Women On Top - a band formed entirely in Potter County - its inception was conceived there, as was its first performance.  And what a band.  They were missed.  But have no fear, THE JILL SIMMONS BAND is here!  This was Jill's 4th Potter and she put together an amazing set of music and a great band, too that I was happy to be part of.

The Jill Simmons Band, Saturday, July 2, 2011
Give It Up Or Let Me Go, Hard To Handle, Walkin' Blues, Voodoo Woman, Sugaree, Medicine, Shaky Ground, Brokedown Palace, I'd Rather Go Blind.
Jill Paone Simmons - Vocals
Andrea Pearl - Vocals
Ellen Salcedo - Vocals
Patti Spadaro - Guitar
Mike South - Drums
Johnny "JB" Bigham - Keyboards
Pappy - Guitar

NINE EYES back in the barn!!!  Rock and Roll.  This band throws down hard and makes you sweat!  Christian, Pat and Marshall were joined by JB & Tourpro on keyboards, as well as some sit-ins from Ellen Salcedo, Patti Spadaro, Jeff Evangelista, Jill & myself.  It's always fun watching Christian Salcedo transform from a solid, killer bassist to a rip-roarin' speed-demon guitar player!!!  This was a great way to get pumped up before the big Pot Luck Dinner!!

Nine Eyes, Saturday, July 2, 2011
I Just Want To Celebrate, Let It Rain, Apeman, I Know A Little, Any Major Dude, Pigs (Three Different Ones), Will It Go Round In Circles, Spanish Moon, Right Place Wrong Time, Southbound, Oye Como Va, Superstition, American Girl, Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley, Sultans Of Swing, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, Rosalita.

Time for the big POT LUCK DINNER.  This is the night where the folks who haven't been playing music all day shine like crazy diamonds!  It is remarkable how much effort is put into making these amazing dishes.  I cannot imagine that there is a picnic ANYWHERE in the world where the food is THIS good.  Another banner year for the Pot Luck Dinner.  Thank you to EVERYONE who brings their wonderful food to share with everyone.  This is what it's all about - community.  Everyone pitching in one way, or another.  We musicians know that this party isn't all about the music.  This community is just incredible - and very well fed.

DOUBLE DOSE, anyone?  It was time for d2 to play some electric tunes!!!  We were all riding on Cloud 9 at this point.  That vibe I've been talking about?  Well, it was quite apparent that no one could do any wrong this weekend.  Lots of fun was gonna be had, no matter what!  The old boys hit the stage and immediately, it was 1996 all over again...

Double Dose, Saturday, July 2, 2011
Sugar Magnolia > Shakedown Street > Terrapin Station > Box Of Rain, Superfly* , Runaway Blues**+, (switch bass players to Jon Hoernig) Frolic*** > Cumblerland Blues > Frolic, New Minglewood Blues, Katie Moon* > Morning Dew > Scape The Goat****.
+ with Jill Simmons & Andrea Pearl on backing vocals
* written by Foot & Pat
** written by Pappy
*** written by Foot & Jon
**** written by Foot & Pappy

Another year, another wonderful FIREWORKS SHOW!!!  Every year a small group of people throw down a big bunch of money to make this happen.  You know who you are and I hope you know that we all appreciate what you do.  It's extremely unneccessary, but extremely appreciated!!  I have a feeling you're all just a bunch of pyros who just love lighting gunpowder and shooting off cannons, no matter how pretty it looks in the sky.  Let's all knock on wood that it's been done safely and without a hitch all these years (okay, I do remember that one year up in the tower....oy!).

After the fireworks, it was time for theCAUSE to hit the stage!  This is the 6th year theCAUSE has come up to play in the barn and we were really looking forward to this one!  Joining us again was Guitar Goddess, Patti Spadaro AND making her first Potter County Party, the incredibly talented Andrea Pearl!!  It was so great playing to the best crowd anywhere.  The energy travelling between us all is just amazing.

theCAUSE, Saturday, July 2, 2011
Viola Lee Blues, Sittin' On Top Of The World, Pride Of Cucamonga, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Never Trust A Woman, Lazy River Road, Crazy Fingers > You Never Can Tell, Looks Like Rain, Saint Stephen > William Tell Bridge > The Eleven > Passenger, Liberty, Loose Lucy > Jackson, New Speedway Boogie > Strange Man, Never Alone*.
* written by Pappy for and about this very occasion

My shoulder felt as if it was going to simply fall off by the end of "Jackson"....but there was more music to be had.  THE ALL-STAR JAM took us to about 3:30 am, then after a LONG break....more music happened at dawn....early morning jazz and blues, finishing off with some head-over-heels rock and roll (literally).  The songlist looked something like this (there is probably more and I'm not gonna include the instrumentation), and I know that ALL of the musicians would love to say to everyone who came to this glorious event:  THANK YOU FOR A REAL GOOD TIME. 

The All-Star Jam, Saturday, July 2 - Sunday, July 3, 2011
Pretzel Logic > Good Times Bad Times, Sympathy For The Devil, Stormy Monday Blues, Aiko! Aiko! Tennessee Jed, Bertha, Samson & Delilah, Thrill Is Gone, Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad.  EARLY MORNING: Fever, My Favorite Things, Girl From Ipanema, My Funny Valentine, Misty, Sunshine Daydream, The Weight, They Love Each Other, Turn On Your Lovelight.

You guys are the best. The players look forward to this show every year because of YOU. We want to step our game up because THIS is the crowd that takes it all to the next level. We just can't do it if you're not there.  I was recently told by one of my dearest friends, "This was the best three days of my life."  That's big stuff, kids.  We take our having fun seriously and I can't imagine anyone who was there this year not looking forward to next year already.  Damn leap year is making us wait an extra day....but we can handle it.

We certainly hope that we all see each other throughout the year.  Facebook is a great way of us all keeping in touch - join the group "Potter 18", if you haven't already.  Wonderful videos & photographs are being put up everyday from EVERYONE!  BIG TIME thanks to Dan Tomkinson & Dave Zubrow for shooting video and to Mike South for running sound all weekend long!  Of course we'd like to also send HUGE thanks to all of the people who spend SO much time putting this whole thing together - from cutting and providing all the firewood, mowing the fields, getting the port-a-johns secured, cleaning the barn, making the T-Shirts, picking up all the trash....there are SO many people 'behind the scenes' - you see most of them at the party having a great time and they are integral to making this party happen.  And of course, to our hosts for the weekend, Mike & Sheila.  I'll quote my old friend Foot here...."Thank you for letting us get away with what we get away with!"

Much love,