Beg Steal or Borrow competes in the 2018 Thomas Point Beach band competition – photo by Dale Cahill
“Beg, steal, or borrow two nickels or a dime and call me on the phone.” These lyrics of Peter Rowan, from the groundbreaking bluegrass album Old and In the Way, was partly how this band got its start and its name. When requested that this group of friends and musicians if they could cover that famous album, they said sure. The name came quite naturally. Last Thursday, they won the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival band competition, a triple crown so to speak, as they had won at Podunk and did the showcase and then the main stage at Grey Fox. They are psyched to return next year to play on the TPB main stage.
All five band members met in Northern Vermont where for the past ten years they have played together and separately in a variety different bands, Granite Junction, The Mud City Ramblers, and The Hillside Ramblers being just a few. In 2013, when banjo player Luke Auriemmo, was asked to throw together an Old and In the Way tribute band for a Grateful Dead show at Burlington’s Higher Ground, he knew just who to ask: Jeremy Sicely on guitar and vocals, Fran Forim on vocals and bass, Geoff Goodhue on vocals and mandolin, and Roland Clark on fiddle. All five band members agree that it was during that show, at Higher Ground, that they liked what they heard from one another and decided to make a go as a full-time bluegrass band. When asked informally what the musical influence that started them down the bluegrass path might have been, each member cited the Old and In the Way album.
While they kept performing songs from the album they soon expanded their set list to include other traditional bluegrass songs, and many originals from members Jeremy Sisely and Roland Clark. They have succeeded in developing a fine reputation for themselves. Playing at the Grey Fox showcase stage in 2017, and that same summer winning the Podunk Bluegrass Festival Band contest, sealed their commitment to the group. It was after the band members saw Hot Rize perform at the Barre Opera House in Barre, Vermont during the winter of 2018 that they decided it was time to start writing their own material. Sicely says that night Pete Wernick encouraged the musicians in the audience to create more original material, and they took that advice to heart. It wasn’t long after that they started writing and performing their own material. Their win this summer at Thomas Point has fueled their desire to record an entire album of originals.
While the crowd responded with enthusiasm to the band’s versions of Working on a Building and I’m Knocking on Your Door it was Roland’s fast paced instrumental Mountain Rills, and Sicely’s song Harder Than Time, about working in the Rock of Ages granite quarries of Barre, VT, that revealed the band’s depth and versatility. They plan to take some time off this winter from their hectic performance schedule to collaborate on more originals and to set a course for their future. At this point, that future is looking and sounding pretty good!
You can learn more about Beg, Steal or Borrow online.