This week marks the second entry in the HVBA’s Member Band Spotlight Series, where we shine the spotlight on our wonderful local member bands in the Hudson Valley! This week we’re taking a look at longtime premium member band, The Wickers Creek Band!
Based in Columbia County, The Wickers Creek Band features lead singer Peter Paden on banjo and guitar, Charlene Paden on fiddle, Andy Bing on mandolin, Rob Bradley on guitar, and Vivian Walsh on upright bass. The band has been playing together for more than 20 years, but band members Peter and Charlene Paden first met back in 1983 playing in a contra dance band in Columbia County. Wishing to do more bluegrass music, they started playing together as The Wickers Creek Band in 1992. (Wickers Creek flows into the Hudson River in Dobbs Ferry, NY, where they were living at the time.) Early on they were joined by their good friend George Morrow (guitar). In 2000 HVBA member Rob Bradley, who was introduced to them by Mike Burns, joined as a bass player.
“All of us are amateur musicians and, apart from the band, are actively involved in various other musical pursuits,” says Peter. “We try to reflect the history and tradition surrounding the origins of old-time and bluegrass music, but also to incorporate a lot of the wonderful developments that have evolved over the years. Traditional American string band music began as a community effort and an expression of community values, and we feel very fortunate to be able to have so much fun doing the music in a band comprised first and foremost of good friends.”
In 2007 the Padens moved full time to Columbia County. “At that time, Rob became our guitar player and HVBA member Vivian Walsh took over on the upright bass. The five of us have been playing together regularly since then,” says Peter.
What are The Wickers Creek Band’s biggest bluegrass influences? According to Peter, “our core repertoire is traditional bluegrass: Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Stanleys, Osbornes, Louvin Brothers, Jim & Jesse. We cover some contemporary groups, like the McCoury’s, Laurie Lewis, Larry Sparks, and we do some country material, like Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb.”
If you’re interested in seeing The Wickers Creek Band, they play a Friday evening monthly gig at the Main Street Public House in Philmont, NY where they’re currently scheduled through the end of the year on November 17 and December 8.
Peter Paden, a resident of the Town of Taghkanic, is retired after a career in law and conservation. He has been playing traditional music since he was a teenager in St. Paul, Minnesota, where, to their mother’s eternal frustration, he and his brother Don whiled away countless hours exploring the virtues of old-time and bluegrass music.
Andy Bing lives in Castleton-on-Hudson and has been playing and studying bluegrass music for over 30 years. He’s been a fan of Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs since childhood and started playing the resonator guitar when he lived in Washington D.C. in the early 1980s. Andy is the band’s resident scholar of bluegrass, and the author of a regular blog on the history of the music for the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association, where he serves on the Board of Directors.
Rob Bradley, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Adelphi University, divides his time between Garden City and Hillsdale. A native of Montreal, has been singing and playing bluegrass, folk and rockabilly music in the Hudson Valley for many years. He is also the webmaster of the wickerscreekband.com.
Charlene Paden, a former environmental consultant, has lived up and down the Hudson Valley for over 45 years. She currently spends a great deal of her time as a gardener, goatherd, and cheesemaker. She became interested in New England fiddling in the 1980’s through contra dancing in Columbia County, but her true downfall occurred when she met Peter in 1983 and was introduced to bluegrass. After all these years, she’s still in recovery, but the prognosis is good.
Vivian Walsh is a native of the Hudson Valley and enjoys a career as Director of Finance and Accounting for a local philanthropic foundation. She began playing bluegrass bass in the mid- nineties. Preferring to stay in the background, she quickly learned the bass player cannot hide. She started joining her husband and friends at jam sessions, and has been playing with local bands ever since.