Ed Schaeffer & Rattlesnake Hill
Another New Live Album
July, 2014
by Ed Schaeffer

Ed Schaeffer and Rattlesnake Hill present a new live CD, recorded at Cactus Flats in Fredrick, Md. on Fathers Day, 2014. Called Live at Cactus Flats on Fathers Day, it features Ed Schaeffer on Guitar, John Brunschwyler on Banjo, Barb Diederich on Bass, and Garrett Wren on Mandolin.

New Album
September, 2008
by John Relph

Ed Schaeffer and Rattlesnake Hill present Ride Out the Storm, the last album banjo player Jack Sanbower recorded before he died. The album also features Heather Twigg on fiddle and vocals, Kevin Conroy on lead guitar, Frank Solivan II on mandolin, and Carolyn Kellock on bass. Stay tuned for more details.

Summer, 2006
by JB Hittle

Ahhhhh......summer! Music is in the air.....bluegrass music! We're very lucky to live here in the heart of bluegrass country, with so many concerts and festivals and pickin' parties going on. I enjoyed myself immensely at the annual Hayes' Pickin Party up at Martinsburg a couple of weeks ago. A lot of people stayed home because they thought it was going to rain, but we had absolutely perfect weather all day-- not 1 drop of rain-- and by mid-afternoon dozens of folks were there at the Lazy A Campground to make fast work of that roast pig, let me tell you!

I like to call it the Spring Bluegrass Rendezvous and it really is just that-- you never know who is gonna show up. We were delighted to see Jimmy Welby and Scott Brannon there, and ex-Buzz Busby banjoist Bob Wilkerson (who I played with years ago in Gary Cooper's band) drove all the way up from North Carolina! Bill Yates also showed up a little later in the day as did Chris Adcock. Anyway, for those of us who love these kinds of affairs, when you get beautiful weather in a high mountain meadow, great picking partners and free dinner on the ground, it just doesn't get any better than this! THANKS PAT for continuing to host this great event! See ya again next May!

And while I don't usually go out as a spectator at festivals, I did head over to Arkadia for the Friday night shows. The sets were great and it was fun to see a lot of my old friends, including my old band-boss Bob Scott. The weather didn't cooperate for that one, but I had a great time catching up and remembering old times with Bob and others.

Our own band schedule has been very hectic this past month. We've done gigs at the Friendly Inn, Cactus Flatts and Tiffany Tavern, and all were packed and exciting shows. For Ed Schaeffer, the return to Tiffany Tavern after a hiatus of 17 years was a very poignant event. With our mandolinist Kevin Conroy out of the loop for the Tiffany Tavern date, we were also extremely fortunate to have Mr. Mark Baker join us for that show. (In case you don't know, you're old uncle JB is a hard-core DOBRO fan, and I've been known to scratch a few sounds out on that instrument myself). But I have been a Mark Baker FAN ever since he and I met up playing together for Gary Cooper some years back. Mark immediately gelled perfectly with Rattlesnake Hill at Tiffany and in fact I'd say we had some real "magic moments" on that show. As many of you know, we have a widely diverse and lengthy set list that includes several complicated arrangements. Mark sailed through without batting an eye, and also kept us in stitches with his pithy comments throughout the night. We did have a hard time getting out of Tiffany on time, and that's because the audience at first just refused to get up and leave! Everyone had a great time, especially Yours Truly. So, thanks Mark! It is always such a pleasure to play with you, and I hope we can do it again one day soon.

Don't forget the annual Tri-State Bluegrass Association Annual Festival and Pig Roast is coming up on Father's Day Weekend! Check the Tri-State website for details. Even if we are performing somewhere that weekend, I plan to sneak away sometime between Friday and Sunday to this event and see more old friends, because the Tri-State folks always put on a good, old-timey style festival and picking party. Hope to see ya there!

This is going to be a very busy summer for our band, taking us out and about to performances as far away as Reading Pennsylvania, plus the usual local club dates. We hope you will come out and visit us along the way....because its you fans who inspire each and every one of us to reach higher and higher on every gig!

Spring 2006
by JB Hittle

Hello to all--- JB here. Wow! I used to write a little piece each month for a long-defunct San Francisco area Bluegrass monthly newspaper, but I have to tell ya'all its been quite some time since I've been asked to contribute a regular column of any sort. Since this space is supposed to be reserved for news about the band, however, and since I can't sing that great, I've agreed to take on this task on behalf of Rattlesnake Hill as one way to earn my keep in the band. And if that sounds crazy, let me just point out to you that one has to be fairly well insane to agree to play bass in a Bluegrass band in the first place, and completely loony to keep doing it year after year. So by those standards, everything is pretty normal by me.

I'll try to update this space from time to time with band news and of our friends in the music business, and fill in the rest with tidbits, factoids and rumors about band members. That way, when ya'all come out to see us at a show, you'll know a little bit more about us, and ya'all can really give us the business! Since our band is well-known for reaching across the footlights to mix things up with the audience, and for having audience participation, this sort of gossip should level the playing field considerably--- we'll have absolutely nothing on you, but ya'all will have plenty on us!

Whew! Time flies! It just seems like yesterday that I met up with Ed Schaeffer and the two of us began plotting to put this band together. We stayed in touch over last summer and then played some coming out gigs in the Fall and Winter, mainly to shake the moths out. By March, things really started to ratchet up, as the band really began to take shape and define a sound. April was plumb nuts, as we added new personnel to the band and at the same time began rehearsing for two important gigs later in the month. But we turned that corner, and even got invited back for future dates! We even had the fans whistling, screamin', stompin' on the floor and-- in some cases dancing in the aisles-- at both The Friendly Inn and Cactus Flats last month. Of course, we always make a scene wherever we go, so we weren't that surprised. But as Ed says, "Now if we could just get Jack Sanbower to come out of his shell and stop being such a wallflower......!!!" Anywho, in Bluegrass parlance, I suppose it could be said that, "We done good." At least that seems to be the consensus of you well-informed hard-core 'grass fans out there on the Baltimore-Washington D.C. roadhouse circuit....

So what the heck is up with this band's name, Rattlesnake Hill? Well, it didn't take us long to agree to Ed's wish to keep his old band's name. After all, this ain't just some cool city-slicker marketing tool. Nope. The name refers to the old Schaeffer Family home-place up there in the Appalachian foothills of Pennsylvania, and we all respect that. The name's authentic, and its from the heart.

But for me the name is also apropos. As some of you may know, I grew up out West, and I own a nice little spred of my own up in Bon Homme County, South Dakota where we run cattle and horses If you've never been there, I can tell you that folks up thataway sure know what a low down, mean, dirty varmint a rattlesnake is, that's for certain. We got plenty of 'em up there on the High Plains, along with prairie dogs, coyotes, buzzards, mountain lions and just about every other kind of wild, nasty critter there is. So having grown up around those parts, I can surely identify with rattlesnakes! We always wear boots around the place and make certain never to surprise any critters that might have taken refuge in the barn. South Dakota is a place where its blazing hot in the summertime and bitter cold in the winter. Its not unusual for the temperature to swing from 95 degrees down to 20 degrees in the stretch of a few hours, and so varmints and critters tend to come calling at the most regular of times. Of course, you know, we have 4 full seasons in South Dakota: 1) Nearly Winter, 2) Winter, 3) Still Winter, and 4) Road Construction. But seriously, its a real beautiful place and I go hide-out there at the ranch every chance I get. In fact, if I ain't around, I'm probably there.

And if you are ever in the Black Hills or visiting Mount Rushmore-Rapid City-Sturgis area near the end of June, be sure to attend the annual Black Hills Bluegrass Festival, which is celebrating its 26th season this summer. Its a small weekend festival, but a real nice one and in a beautiful, breathtaking location, smack dab in the heart of the Black Hills, about 15 miles south of Rapid City, right next door to the BEAR COUNTRY USA theme park (that there is another kind of varmint we got up thataway). This year's headliners will be my old friends from the Missouri Ozarks, the fabulous Bluegrass band Midnight Flight, led by one of the all-time great high-tenor singers in the business (and a darn fine bass player too) Mr. Andy Dye. I'm sure you remember Andy from his days with the Gillis Brothers. Well, he's got some kind of great Bluegrass Band these days, and turning heads from SPGMA to IBMA and beyond! I hope some of you can make the show.

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