Carrie Cook

Carrie Cook -Upright Bass, Washtub Bass, Kazoo and Vocals
(alias Cookie, Flossie & Schlep)

Well, I was luckily born into a quirky musical and aesthetic family. My dad was a jazz musician with an incredible Duke Ellington touch on piano and also played a bunch of other instruments—among them, bass, bassoon and baritone sax, which he played for a while in Woody Herman’s orchestra. My mom, a talented pianist who also played clarinet, made me take piano lessons at a very young age but I liked hanging out with my three Swedish uncles better on the front porch of my grandparents farm in Indiana. One played guitar, another, banjo and the last, dobro. Occasionally my grandpa, an accomplished organist, would get down the ‘ol  Stainer fiddle from the shelf (passed down from at least 2 generations from the old country) to play a couple of tunes. I cut my teeth on jazz… I mean that for real. As a baby I can remember listening to Fats Waller and I can still hear him rattling around in the oldest back corridors of my brain cells. BUT, I gotta say, my uncles had a huge influence on me with their old time country and bluegrass tunes.

Ended up moving to Croton-on-Hudson, New York with my family when I was about 10. My dad was a New Yorker and he wanted to go back East… so I went from the surreal land of flat cornfields for as far as the eye could see to the magic of rolling hills and mountains covered in deep green forests, laced with jewel-like rivers and lakes… in other words—I was enchanted by it all. I could even swing on the giant concord grape vines in the woods—just like in the old Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller, which were filmed on the Croton River. It was here that I met new breed of wild and crazy friends… and a special select few formed the:"New & Improved Lassitudinal Slump Jug Band & Quartet”. I figured out how to build my first wash tub bass from a galvanized steel tub, broom handle and clothesline. I played banjo too sometimes and I always played kazoo. It was the 60’s… and we were heavily influenced with the music of the times, especially Jim Kweskin, Maria Muldaur and The Holy Modal Rounders. At this same time I was also playing upright bass in the school orchestra, jazz dance band and flute in the marching band. I even made it to the New York All State Orchestra playing classical bass.

Anyway, I was having fun. I especially loved playing the bluesy, jazzy stuff…

But then I got myself into a job situation and where I couldn’t play any music. That lasted for 30 years. Can you believe? Then to make a very long story short, I ended up here in Cambridge, Vermont with my husband of 34 years, (a native from Johnson and a bass player as well) and found that I now had the time again to play! I began with wash tub (as they're easy to build) with a couple of local bands and still play with the “Old Dirty String Band” when ever I can. Then I got a beautiful new ½ size upright bass, lovingly named Grizelda, that fits in my little Suzuki Samurai. After that, opportunities arose for bass playing… among them “Slick Martha’s Hot Club” a gypsy jazz band featuring the music of Django Reinhardt. I also found myself playing in a few country and front porch music bands… and it’s all been a blast.

THEN...one Halloween, I happened to be at an open mic at The Bee's Knees in Morrisville, VT. As chance would have it, there were two suspicious guys there dressed Carrie & Keith at The Bee's Kneesas Used Car Salesman, shuckin’ and jivein’… and they played AWESOME blues. Who were these masked bandits? They called themselves SPIDER ROULETTE. Whoa. And who knows how the future would have turned out if I hadn’t been wearing an electric blue wig that night while I played a few numbers on bass with my friend Jay? One of the Spiders, named Keith, put some big black glasses with a moustache attached on my nose and we butted our heads together for a camera click! This concluded in an iconic photograph where Keith and I truly look related! The other Spider, Peter, who played incredible mouth harp couldn’t have been more natty in his B&W checkered sports coat. Well, you could say I was smitten… or better yet, bitten by the Spider and the poison has cast a spell over me. They soon wrapped their web around me and adopted me as their very own.


Carrie Cook

Stefani Capizzi - Guitar and Vocals

Some of my earliest music memories are of sitting on top of the organ in my Irish grandparent’s bar room on Cape Cod, during ‘Happy Hour’, singing to friends and family. My grandmother played the organ and taught me songs to sing.

I took some piano lessons as a young child, but always wanted to play guitar. Eventually, that’s exactly what I did. There was an old guitar around when I was in elementary school and I used to try to play it. I received my first guitar for my 13th birthday and started writing songs immedietely.

My Italian grandfather was a jazz musician who played in clubs in New England. and eventually in Florida. My father is also a guitarist and we occasionally get to play together.

Some of my favorite artists over the years have been Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Redding, Gillian Welch, Patty Griffin, Johnny Cash and SO many more.

I played music on and off throughout my adult life, though raising three children often left little time to spend on creating music. I really got back into playing music more around 2005, realizing how much it helped me and I missed sharing it with other people. Music continues to help keep me balanced and it keeps fun in my life. I have met some amazingly talented musicians in VT and hope to get to keep listening and playing music with them for years to come.

Going forward, I plan to keep sharing and learning music everywhere I go and to stay open to wherever it takes me…


Michael KirickMichael Kirick - Harmonica, Washboard, Flute and Vocals
(alias Harpo)

I was born at a very young age and shortly thereafter music became my muse. I totally wore out the few records in my parents collection and immediately gravitated to the spike jones numbers but also had a strange attraction to the “Tea For Two” cha-cha, which I played repeatedly, sometimes at speeds other than the 45 RPM intended for it.

I first played a trumpet in grade school but gave it up when I determined that Herb Alpelt wasn’t really cool (too bad I didn’t come across Miles Davis until years later). So I bought my first harmonicas in high school, playing mostly Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkle, and old Americana standards such as “Turkey in the Straw” for myself and friends on the school bus and social gatherings.

As no one I knew could teach me the finer points of playing, I struggled through trying to figure out why harmonica keys didn’t seem to really match the key that everyone else was playing. It was only years later that I became self taught about cross-harp playing, note bending, tounge blocking, and other techniques, especially once getting into the blues in collge with BB King. My most influential harp players that I listened to were Chester Burnett (AKA ,Howling Wolf), Junior Wells, Sonny Boy Williamson, Van Morrisson, Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band, and Ron McKernan (Pig Pen) from the Grateful Dead, among others. I also taught myself to play flute during these college years sometimes break it out for shows with the Spiders.

I got into the washboard mostly due to playing with Spider Roulette. It just seemed like a natural fit to Carrie’s kazoo playing and I could further indulge my lust for juggy music, plus give me something to do when I wasn’t playing harmonica. My rig is a custom built model with Double Handy base encrusted with the finest clinky and clanky items found in antique stores and yard sales. It is the envy of all the kids in the neighborhood, …including me.

Now I find myself pushing the harmonica envelope as I’ve started using effects pedals to generate expanded “voices” to play with. You never know where some of our twisted renditions of songs will take us, and that’s what I appreciate most when playing with Spider Roulette.


PapaGreyBeardKeith Williams, Guitar, Resonator Guitar, Ukulele, Harmonica, Foot Drums and Vocals
(alias PapaGreyBeard)

I’ve been told that when I was two years old, while in the car with my parents, I would say to my mother “you sing Old MacDonald”, to my father “you sing ABC Horsey” and then “I sing This Old Man”. We would ride the roads of Vermont to the cacophony of three different songs being sung at the same time. Apparently it didn’t bother my musical ear in the least.

I started playing the Alto Saxophone in about fourth grade. I played Alto and Tenor Sax and Clarinet in school marching and jazz bands into high school.  Sometime in 1966 I got my first guitar.  I have no memory of where it came from or how I got it, but I can remember teaching myself to play the chords. My sister Lynn and I would harmonize on the songs of the 60s – like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Cruel War is Raging”.  I continued to play and teach myself the guitar and eventually picked up an old Kay electric bass. I began my performing career playing bass in the local rock bands of the time.  I liked the bass because I could hide in the shadows towards the back of the band and not be the center of attention.

The first strong musical influences for me were the rock bands of the late ‘60s…The Rolling Stones, Cream, The Allman Brothers Band and others.  When listening to and learning their music I began to research the origins of songs like “Crossroads”, “Love in Vain” and “Statesboro Blues”. I found myself learning about and listening to the likes of Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Blind Willie Johnson, Rev. Robert Wilkins, Muddy Waters, Elmore James and others. That was the beginning of my deep love of the blues.

After graduating from high school, getting married and having kids my guitar found a comfortable corner and I didn’t play a lot for about 20 years.  Occasionally I would pick it up and play with a friend but my skill level remained about the same as it was when I left high school. In the early 1990s I purchased my first resonator guitar and began to learn the slide guitar of the delta blues.  I’ve been through lots of resonators since then – some say that my buying and selling of guitars is a sickness – but I have learned a lot. There’s still so much more to learn and I plan on learning all I can.

Musically, my first love is still the Delta Blues followed closely by Chicago Blues and other electric blues styles.  I also really enjoy Jazz, Dixieland Jazz, Bluegrass, Folk and many, many other styles of music.  I decided a number of years ago that since I can’t learn to play all of those styles well, I would concentrate on the Blues and only play around with other styles.  I wish I had the raw talent to learn it all but I’ll just have to be content with what I have and keep improving little by little.

keith@papagreybeard.us Spider Roulette (802) 349-2777