Date: July 29th 2009

North River, North Woods CD Release concert

2009 July 13
by adkchrisshaw

NRNW inside.2

It was quite a day in the North Country for Dan Berggren, John Kirk, Cedar Stanistreet and myself, as we played a “double header” concert at the Tannery Pond Community Center to celebrate the release of our new CD, “North River, North Woods”.  For years we’ve threatened to do a project together, but coordinating the schedules of five touring musicians is like trying to get cats to do water ballet.  As it was we couldn’t coordinate getting Ann Downey to  join us as she had commitments in British Columbia.  Ann, who was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule with the primere Canadian folk group”Finest Kind” to grace the new album with her incredible vocals, will hopefully join us next time!IMG_0483

The album was the vision of this man, my good friend Len Kilian.  For better than 20 years Len has counseled me on everything from rushing to judgement, to rushing my backcast!  A dear friend of his, with direct ties to North River and the log driving era, took the financial burden off the project, and we were off and flying.  Little did we suspect this flight would take 3 years, but did I mention the “Cat Water Ballet” scenario before?  In addition to being the catalyst for the recording itself, Len also graced the stage with the reading of a poem by the great Adirondack poet Jeanne Robert Foster, who was also a great personal friend of Len and his wife Mary, who also joined us on that special day.


Tannery Pond Community center is located in the center of North Creek village, and is an incredible venue.  A wide variety of art is presented there from almost all disciplines.  Don’t miss the opportunity to visit when you head up that way.

For more information go to:

IMGP0878Here you see John and I wailing away at one of our old traditional favorites, “The Ballad of Blue Mountain Lake”.  We got the audience to sing along on the chorus and had a grand old time!  As usual, John played everything but the kitchen sink,…banjos, guitars, mandolins, fiddles,…geesh, isn’t there anything this guy can’t pick??!??!?!

To that end, we had this special instrument handcrafted especially for John.  A bevy of Bavarian clockmakers- turned- luthiers worked for over 10 years to create the masterpiece you see pictured below.  John, we expect you to have The Ride of the Valkyries ready to go for the next concert on this little beauty,…


In addition to our wailings and moanings, Dan and Cedar ripped through some smoking Quebecois fiddle tunes and great ballads to really set the tone for the evening.


IMGP0883Cedar graduated at the top of his class at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY for violin performance!  He then headed out for Boston where he’s learning to MAKE the violins he, and others will play!  He actually made the violin he performed on at the shows!  John announced he had “dibbs” on the fifth instrument Cedar comes out with and spent a good amount of time playing the one you see Cedar playing here.  Above you see Cedar “holding court” as curious concert goers wanted a better look at is handiwork.  I certainly had no intention of letting Cedar get out of there without playing a tune or two with him myself!  As you can see below, we managed to pull that one off as well!

IMGP0882All in all it was a memorable night, good friends sharing good music and more than a couple of laughs!  We’ll be doing it again on August 15 ant the Nakidenna Educational Center in Greenfield Center, NY.  Check the website at for the information on that, and all the other concerts over the summer!  If this first concert of the summer is any indication, it’s going to be quite a summer!

More Adirondack chow halls,…

2009 June 30
by adkchrisshaw


Above:  Lew Bowers and I grilling for the boys, as Kilian watches on the right behind the green stool,…(if you believe that, I have some swamp land for you,…)

; >)

The Algonquin

Rt 9, Bolton Landing, NY

Yup,…there’s no end to the culinary possibilities in the North Country!  We’ll be visiting quite a few right here, in no particular order.  I thought I’d start out with one close to where I grew up.  Bolton Landing is only a few miles up Rt. 9N from my old stomping grounds of Lake George.  I’ve seen a lot of restaurants come and go there over the years, but the Algonquin has stood tall for as long as I can remember.

lake - 1 Algon2This is the view from the deck area of the Algonquin, located just a mile or so south of the center of Bolton Landing village on Rt. 9N.  It’s been a favorite of the boating set for decades who come in seeking a quick bite, dinner, or one of their legendary Peach Daquaris.  As good as the view is, the food is better.  Their lunch menu “skates all the compulsories”, from killer burgers to a towering Club sandwich, but it’s their panninis that can’t be beat.  A fine selection of brews, local , national, and international, together with a good wine list ensure you won’t go away thirsty.

The dinner menu provides choices for either a full dinner, or lighter fare if you’re just gnoshing.  The Oscar selections, (Veal, Chicken, Filet, and Salmon) are all winners, but the steaks are the stars of this show.  Desserts change form season to season, but an after dinner drink on the deck is a must here!


2090 Saranac Ave.

Lake Placid, NY


If a leprechaun in a sombrero seems a bit of a culinary/cultural oxymoron, put your mind at ease, the often seen proprietor ,Mr. Quinn, has put it all together here at Desperados.  There is another fine Mexican restaurant in the next town over that we’ll discuss another time, and the two are often compared by locals and visitors alike.  Both are very, very good,  and if competition sharpens their game, then we are the winners!

What Quinn has done here is pay attention to the basics.  From the basket of chips, (both flour and corn), to the two salsas, (both red and verde), Desperados flaunts its mastery of the details.  It offers all the choices you’d expect to find in a good Mexican restaurant in Old Town in San Diego, enchiladas, tacos, chimis, and even a fine Mole choice, but it’s the specials that change daily that really allow the kitchen to shine.  We’ve all had jalapeno poppers, generally a dismal disappointment with a heavily breaded, pathetically bland pepper, and a glob of non discript cheese.  At Desperados, their “Mexican Roulette” redeems the genre with five real, fresh, batter fried  jalapenos, stuffed with Monterey Jack and a jumbo shrimp.  This comes with a side ramekin of sour cream to temper the bite, and you’ll need it, these are NOT for the faint of heart!  A fine array of Mexican beers, and what seems like a n endless choice of margaritas help put out the fire in time to cap it all off with to-die-for flan.

Notes on making the most of your Adirondack visit,…

2009 June 30
by adkchrisshaw


Our first “Shaw Boys” fishing trip this year to the Adirondacks was a complete success!  The weather was less than perfect, but the experience was unparalleled.   When the weather finally cooperated, the boys were at it hot and heavy, as big  brother Tink adopted the role of mentor to Silas who proved a quick study.  After about ten minutes of stream-side tutelage, the river coughed up Silas’ first Rainbow !

Tink coaches Silas stream side,...

Tink coaches Silas stream side,...

The entire concept of fishing with kids has been addressed previously in this blog, but it bears repeating that it’s hard to beat this as an introduction, or reinforcement, for giving kids a quality outdoor experience.  You don’t have to go all the way into wading streams and rivers to fly fish like you see here, a simple Zebco push button reel, a bobber, and some worms do the trick quite nicely!

The boys reflect on the days events,...

The boys reflect on the days events,...

There are tons of campsites like the one pictured here scattered all across the Adirondacks.  The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation maintains 52 excellent campsites in both the Adirondacks and the Catskills.  For a modest rental fee, you can have your own “site” complete with tent site (sometime a tent platform), fireplace, and bathroom facilities.  Some feature boat rentals, and others even rent out cabins.  Check it out at


Using your campsite as a “base camp” opens up a myriad of possibilities for exploring the Adirondacks.  Here you see our buddy Andy Loffredo (far left), Tink, and Silas in the Great Meadow approaching the Adirondack Loj, a terrific facility maintained by the Adirondack Mountain Club.  The ADK Club is a great organization that does environmental advocacy, maintains trails, does educational programs, and offers camping and lodging in the heart of the high peaks.  Check them out at

Here’s a look at the Loj below,…

Adirondack Loj

Adirondack Loj

Sometimes, even though the outdoor life is exhilarating,the prospect of a hot breakfast cooked by somebody else than you, consumed in a non-black fly environment is pretty appealing.  If you’re in the High Peaks region and looking for a breakfast option, give McKenzie’s Grill a try,…

McKenzie's GrillIt’s right on the main drag in Saranac Lake, in front of the Best Western, and it serves breakfast until noon for reasonable prices.  There’s a glass room in back that overlooks the pond you see here where blue heron, ducks, and the occasional big ‘ol bullfrog provide your dining entertainment!

Let me know what other things you’d like to see here!  Just click on “comment” below!  See you in the woods!

The Season begins,…

2009 June 21
by adkchrisshaw

IMG_0466As I sit here in Blue Mountain Lake, after my first day back at the Adirondack Museum as an Artist-in-Residence, I’m astounded at how quickly it seems the time has passed since I was here last.  The Museum is even more impressive than when I was here back in the 90s, and the staff has an infective energy and freshness that makes it all feel new again!  (Mostly because it is,…a lot’s been added since “the old days”!)  If you haven’t been up here to see the museum in awhile, buckle up!  After I got through today, I drove up to Long Lake and caught this view of the peaks there just as the sun was going down above,…this one’s for you Greg.


IMG_0460 This is the new entrance, and the huge sail boat in the foyer acts as a herald of things to come as soon as you come inside.  There will be events and demonstrations all summer long up here, and occasionally I’ll wander around singing at unsuspecting tourists, and lying to the children.  They’ve stocked the pond with Rainbows and Brookies, and they have to frisk me at the door to make sure I’m not smuggling in a Popiel Pocket Fisherman to clean out their pond.  I haven’t been able to slip one by them yet, but there’s always tomorrow.  Speaking of tomorrow, there’s a ton of school kids on the way for a tour and a few songs and stories!  If your school wants to come up and check this out put them in touch with me through the website at www.chris and we’ll see to it that it happens!


When you come up, carve out a little time to visit some of the nearby water falls.  Above is Bog River Falls in between Long Lake and Tupper Lake.  It’s a natural waterslide with a nice pool at the foot, and is a time honored, fun, hot weather tradition up here.  (If you can keep the kids out of it long enough, the fishing in the pool at the foot isn’t bad either.)

Spring comes creeping into the Adirondacks

2009 May 6
by adkchrisshaw

Up in the High Peaks today, the mountains brooded and sulked a bit as they tried to cast off the last vestiges of winter, like a huge, waking dog shaking off the hazy mantle of sleep.  Green was just popping out up here, as the snow and ice hung on in a few places like Chapel Pond, below.

imgp0881There were a couple of guys in a rowboat with two spin cast rigs, dragging around who knows what, in search of big spring Brook Trout.  They looked cold, distracted, and not terribly happy as the oar lock’s creaking echoed off the cliffs across the pond.  I noticed they had two paper bags from Subway sitting out on top of their bright red cooler, and I remember thinking to myself, “If you’re smart boys, you’ll hang onto those subs, because as I look in my crystal ball, I wouldn’t count on trout for dinner tonight!”  Just then the sun popped out for one of its brief appearances today, and I took it as a sign to move on toward Lake Placid.


imgp0884As you can see to the right, I didn’t get very far before I came across evidence of what had happened to the rest of the snow I remembered seeing piled so high in this little valley only weeks ago.  As I told my boys, this last winter was more like those I remember from when I was their age than any since they were born.  The snow came in early, the day after Halloween for us down home in the Hudson Valley.  There were still plenty of snow capped peaks as I wound my way through the little town of Keene at the foot of Kerosene Hill.  As the van climbed up toward the Cascade Lakes, I decided to pay a visit to an old friend to see how it had fared over the winter.


blog-shots-0051This is the fabled “Stagecoach Rock”, if you look carefully you can see the image of a stagecoach etched into the rock that sits beside the road at the head of Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes on your way into Lake Placid.  Over the years it’s worn a bit, but you can still make it out, although it’s a bear to photograph.  (This one to the left I found on the internet, the one below is mine.) Over the years I’ve heard more stories about how this thing got here than you can shake a stick at!  Everything from Aliens, to immigrant road workers, to the director of the Museum of Natural History hiring the local gravestone carver to come up and do it in the dark of night just to weird people out!  However it got here, I think it’s co ol, and the next time you drive by you should check it out!


Another season begins,…

2009 April 28
by adkchrisshaw

davebattenkillAbove:  Here we see my buddy Dave seeking the Behemoth of the Battenkill.


With summer showing early, Tink, Silas, Dave and I headed over to the Battenkill to rub the rust off our fly fishing game on a gorgeous 80+ degree day on the last Sunday in April.  The trout had other things on their agenda than us however, as our fishing trip wound up being casting practice.


imgp0874 We even tried heading out into the briny deep during a spring break session in Florida the week before.  Tink, standing in front of me, was amazed at the lack of casting required in this type of endeavor, while his brother Silas to my left, (your right) was looking a little annoyed we couldn’t stay at the dock where 7′ tarpon were munching down the remains of the captain’s filleting efforts.  The seas were rough, about 15′ rollers, but my guys did fine, as opposed to those two guys seated at the rail who had tried to drain Ft. Lauderdale of all fermented beverages the night before, and then redefined “chumming” as we know it.  At one juncture Silas said to me, “So Dad,…this is what those guys do for fun????!??!?!”  From the mo uths of babes,…



Scouting for bass

Scouting for bass

It always pays to scout out the water before fishing.  Here are Bridget and the boys doing just that in an airboat in the Everglades.  There were some scary big bass out there!  There were some critters out there that definitely won’t be found in the Adirondacks, (thank God).


An excellent example of that was captured on camera by Tink, below.




Ice Out!

2009 April 2
by adkchrisshaw




Here you see a lake that just lost it’s covering of winter ice.  If you look at it like most folks, it’s no big deal, happens every year,…it’s inevitable.  Today I saw it in a whole new light, I saw it through the eyes of an 11 year old.


My son Silas was on fire,… this wasn’t an inevitable event that will be repeated  in the years to come,… this was limitless opportunity.  This was  a fresh start on a new year of sparring with the fish of his dreams.  This was the beginning of his “Championship Season”  He ran from one side of the shoreline road to the other, scanning the shallows for fish, checking his favorite spots for any signs of any activity.  He told stories of fish he and his brother had caught, lost, and hoped to catch there.  I knew, in that moment, he was bound to this place, this experience, these mountains.

kevin-chris-shaw-learn-to-fish Here’s a picture of his Dad when he was 11 or so, with his buddy Kevin Galloway  during their “Championship Season”.  That was a hell of a day, we were playing so far over our heads we should have had nosebleeds.  Every cast, every choice payed off.  Even when we did it all wrong that day, it turned out all right.  My dad laughed so hard he cried, and talked about that day for years.


There would be other great days on the water for Kev and I. Later in our outboards, exploring the islands on Lake George, catching bigger fish, doing the stuff of “bigger boys”,  I was convinced the “kid stuff” was just that.   In retrospect, they all pale in comparison to that first break out moment of realizing we could “hang with the big dogs”.

fireplace Kevin went on to be an Airline pilot, you’d have thought that after the 20+ years of flying I’ve done all over the world, I’d have drawn his ride at least once, but not yet.  But maybe one of these days he’ll come back to Lake George and we’ll hit that fishing spot one more time, who knows?


In the mean time, these two guys to the right are ready for that “moment”, and why not?  So here’s to all of our “Championship Seasons”, all those moments of triumph in our lives shared with friends and family!   Get out there guys,…it’s Ice Out.

Stops along the way,…Saratoga.

2009 March 25
by adkchrisshaw



Above:  A lack of automotive transportation doesn’t deter Engel, Opalka, Hollinger and Shaw from making their move when it came to light that the fishing was good, and scotch was flowing from one of the springs at Saratoga.  That’s Larkin in the blue silks bringing up the rear,…the others said something about a horserace??!?!


Saratoga Springs is near and dear to my heart.  My Mom grew up there as the daughter of the editor of the city newspaper, my Grandmother lived there till the ripe old age of 103, and I have been haunting a small Caffe on Phila St. there most of my adult life.  Everybody goes there for the races, and they’re great, no doubt, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,…


The theory here is that after a great day hike in the ‘Dacks, you’re driving home and want to really cap off the day right.  Let’s address dinner first,…and that brings us to my favorite chicken restaurant on the planet, Hattie’s!

Hattie’s Chicken Shack

hatties2This is Fried Chicken heaven!  Although the restaurant has been in Saratoga since 1938, it appeared on Phila St. in the late ’60s.  I used to see Hattie talking with Lena Spencer on the sidewalk when Grandma would send me downtown, and I’d  smell that chicken!!!  It wasn’t until I was driving I finally had the good sense to go in and have some.  Beginners should skate the compulsories, Fried Chicken with the collard greens and candied yams.  You just CAN’T go wrong here though, so jump right in!  Call 518-584-4790 and grab a table, but leave room for dessert at your next stop!  You’re right next door to your evening’s entertainment, the legendary Caffe Lena.

Caffe Lena


caffedoor2In 1960 Lena Spencer opened a small caffe based on the premise that people would flock to a venue that presented the highest quality entertainment in the most intimate setting possible.  Man,…did she have that one pegged.  Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Don McClean, Ani DiFranco, Emmylou Harris, Odetta and dozens of others all played here early on their careers.  About thirty years ago, she gave a shot to a new kid who was trying to play music about where he grew up, and I’ve been playing there ever since.

  caffedylan2Lena ran the Caffe with style and grace from 1960 to 1998 when she fell at the head of her beloved staircase and an era in folk music ended.  Today Sarah Craig continues the grand tradition of presenting an eclectic mix of music, poetry, and whatever else strikes her fancy with that same sense of style and grace.  It really doesn’t matter who’s playing, or what’s going on the night you come through, whoever it is you’ll have an experience you’ll never forget, or rekindle memories of past evenings at what the International Folk Allience has named the Best Small Venue in North America!  Go to for information and tickets, and tell Sarah Chris sent you.  The desserts are all wonderful, but if you’re looking for a nightca p, there’s no alcohol at the Caffe, but you’re literally around the corner from The Parting Glass!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Parting Glass


partingginside1In my day, I’ve spent time in quite a few Irish pubs, but none more fun than the Parting Glass.  The selection of brews is unbelievable, the ambiance is absolutely authentic, it’s a great lunch choice, and the music features some of the best Irish acts around!  If you’re lucky my buddy Kevin McKrell will be playing there with one of his great bands!  Kevin is part of our Mountain Snow and Mistletoe Orchestra, as is the percussionist you’re likely to see with him, Brian Melick.  But that’s not Kevin’s only contribution to your Parting Glass experience,…those paintings on the walls, they’re his too!thechessmatch1

The truth about teaching kids to fish

2009 March 14
by adkchrisshaw


Left to right:  Tink follows Dad into the great unknown,…

Fishing is a lot like playing music, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you can teach anybody else to.  But since in the final analysis, we teach ourselves, other folks just help us learn how to do that, I have some observations here I hope you’ll find helpful.


Rule #1:  You’re gonna get wet.

Put kids and water in the same general vicinity and wetness invariably ensues.  When you are teaching them to fish however, this is not limited to just them,… you’re included as well.  If kids are going to fall in, they’ll do so when you are standing in the most precarious spot of the day, and take you with ‘em. 


Rule #2:  Hooks are sharp.

Think about it, what you’re doing here is handing a kid a long stick with some string and a sharp object at the end that you’re asking him to whip around in the air and accurately land on a prescribed target.  (It’s not lost on me that knights used to carry around bigger versions of a similar set up, and tried to knock other knights off horses with them.)  This won’t knock you off your feet, but it will send you wading into hairy places, have you climbing trees, and venture into any other difficult or dangerous place to retrieve them so your child can continue to do the same thing.  


Rue #3:  Fish bite when they’re damned well good and ready.

No amount of coaxing, swearing, or praying will induce a fish to bite, I know this…I’ve tried all three.  The attention span of a kid when fishing is slow can be timed with a stopwatch, and the lack of action will  generally be perceived as your fault.


Rule # 4:  There’s no such thing as “Enough fish.”

Even when fish are committing mass Hari Kari, and throwing themselves onto kids hooks with the kind of reckless abandon usually reserved for lemmings, the question will come, “Dad, where else can we go now?”


Rule #5:  There is a silver lining.

At the end of the day when you’re sitting in front of the fire with the band aid box, Absorbine Jr. bottle, and probably a bottle of something else, and the mental picture of that time earlier in the day when your child laid down the perfect cast, got the perfect drift, and took that 16″ Rainbow with a smile that lit up the whole county, then had the class to release it,…  if that doesn’t make all the rest of it worth it,… check your pulse.

Adirondack eateries and watering holes,…

2009 March 3
by adkchrisshaw


Rt. 28 the last weekend of September ‘08


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Dickens summed up not only a Tale of Two Cities, but also eating and pubbing in the Adirondacks.  Let’s face it, one minute you’re eating some amazing pate, sipping on a glass of Cabernet you’d be willing to break into Ft. Knox to pay for, and the next you really don’t want to know what the meat is in this bowl of, well,…what ever it is.  There is no short answer here, the Adirondack Park is 6.75 million acres, bigger than some New England states, so we’re going to have to take this one in pieces.  Since the Spring events coming up will probably drive your decisions on where to go, let’s look at some of the towns, eateries, and watering holes near those events:


Thu, May 28, 2009 | 7:30 PM at: Shepards Park, Lake George

Join us for the free opening night kickoff to the 2009 Lake George Elvis Festival in Shepards Park along side beautiful Lake George 

That’s right folks, that’s my home town we’re talking about!  Where else can you see hundreds, if not thousands of Elvis impersonators wandering the streets of  the town in various states of disarray, shopping for T shirts that sport such witty phrases as “Your girlfriend wants me!”, or  hot pants saying “I’m a little Dear” with a brush painted Bambi across the transom.  Yes indeed folks, this event makes Coney Island look like Monaco.  But the entertainment value cannot be beat!!!!!  My advise,…go to SJ Garcia’s at 192 Canada St,( ask for a window table, order a Sangria for you , a Pepsi for the kids, some chips and salsa, and watch the surreal parade!  But dinner is the clincher!  Get up there Thursday night for the party at the Adirondack Pub and Brewery ( there’s a five dollar cover and it starts at 9 PM , free with your “Blue Suede&# 8221; pass.  There are dinner specials, and it’s reasonable with good food and great beer.  Ca’mon ,…”It’s one for the money…”


June 27-28, 2009
French & Indian War Encampment at Fort Ticonderoga
Ticondaroga, NY
Call (518)595-2821 for more information (

Hundreds of reenactors from all over the world come and stage battles, portray 18th Century life, and create a mammoth encampment around the walls of Ft. Ticonderoga.  It’s truly a step back in time, and great for the kids!  It goes on all weekend, but check to see when they’re going to stage the major battle, that’s pretty amazing to watch.  Lunch is best at the Fort snack bar, believe it or not!!  All the food is cooked to order, and the view in the dining room is among the best on Lake Champlain.  At the end of the day head back on Rt. 9 to Bolton Landing to the elegant Sagamore Hotel on Lake George.  Go up to the gate and tell them you want to go to dinner at  Mister Brown’s Pub (, a much less pricey alternative to their flagship Trillium Restaurant.  Bridget and I went up for Valentine’s Weekend last year and had a great time!  Think about a nightcap at the Veranda, where Afternoon Tea is served Saturdays from 12:30 to 3:30, reservations required.  There’s also a Sushi and Raw Bar from 4:30 to 6:30 daily that time of year. (

This stuff should get you through to the 4th of July, I’ll address that separately real soon! – Chris

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