By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
Andy Prior, a.k.a. Silas, has many configurations of groups and they’re all good. If you’ve heard them, you know
that already. If you have not, then any time you see The Bubsies, Supply and Demand or Silas listed, go check it out. I had the pleasure of speaking with Silas and learning more about it all. Make note: Wednesday, Aug. 29, Supply and Demand will be playing at the Bike Bum after party at Long Trail Brewery.
Silas (age 33) grew up in Bridgewater, but there he is known by his real name, Andrew Prior. He picked up the alias “Silas” while gigging on the road. A guy once said, “The more names you have in life, the harder it is for death to find you.” Silas said, “I went with that and Silas kind of stuck with me for awhile.”
He picked up guitar in high school and has been playing it ever since. Subconsciously he started liking the guitar when he was eight and went to his first Dead show with his dad. “I always had a strong flow of listening to music. I grew up on mandolin stuff, hip-hop in my adolescent years then the Dead and festival culture with jam bands. Music had always been something I’ve been intrigued by. There was a point it was something I didn’t think I was capable of. It’s an interesting animal.”
Right after high school, he joined the cruise ship life. “Ships are so crazy,” Silas said. “You meet so many people and nobody really needs to know who you are. It’s better to be just a face in the crowd.” He would do 12-hour days and then cruise through town. “I would bust in the corners of whatever random city we were in. It became comical because all the guys would know us and come out harass me on the street. I have fond memories.”
Silas really wanted to travel and a friend’s dad hooked him up with cruise ship companies. “It started out really well and I still do it occasionally. It became an easy way to travel, I went pretty much everywhere. I try to take a nice group of Vermonters to go if I can.” This last time he brought Marc Edwards, and they went to Thailand. They’ll play wherever, and sometimes just for beers.
Some favorite places he’s played include Spain, Hamburg [Germany], Hawaii and the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco. He’s played in or on little dive bars, street corners, fire sides, buses, airplanes and trains.
The Bubsies is his latest project and it’s him on guitar, Edwards from the Melting Nomads on guitar and Hollace Pratt on mandolin. Supply and Demand is an all-star band of sorts, with Silas getting some guys to join him like Daniel Brown, Chris Pallutto, Aaron Normand or other local greats.
The Bubsies is an acoustic bluegrass thing, similar to Trampled by Turtles. It’s not your typical cover band. They may play some Doc Watson or some old school jams you don’t necessarily hear out. Silas likes jammin’ out to “Deep River Blues” and “Old Home Place.” He likes mashups, “The things that cross the line in a genre. There’s a lot of bluegrass tunes that are metal-ish, like an old school metal song that’s put to bluegrass speed,” Silas explained. He said of their name, “I grew up in Chateauguay and there’s a lot of these Bubsies around here. Good ol’ folk from the woods.” Chateauguay is a remote section of Bridgewater that runs towards Barnard.
Silas took over the open mic at the Clear River Tavern about a year and a half ago. That’s every Thursday at 8:30 p.m. “It’s a platform for people to express themselves. If they want to jam with the band, everyone’s open to it for sure but you’re more than welcome to get up there and play whatever you have prearranged so you can practice something you wanna play out.” That open mic has been going on for a decade or so. “A lot of people come on a regular basis, but also just stop in randomly. You never know who’s going to stop by.”
He also runs the Killarney open mic every Monday at 9:30 p.m. “That one is doing good. I’ve been holding it down ever since Steve Audsley passed. It’s always been a happening open mic. The locals really support it. Even if there’s not many musicians, there’s always a lot of people there.” And if Silas can’t be there he gets someone to host it for him – both locations. He also tries to go out to one at least once a week. “Back in the day, I used to go to 10 a week. I would do 100-mile loops just on a Monday.”
It’s such a joy for Silas to play live music. “I love it, it’s the greatest job in the world. It’s the hardest way to make an easy living. Don’t quote me on that, someone told me that once. Some shows are harder than others. Sometimes you have to play the part and be the background music and slowly win over the crowd. It’s especially tough to play when the Patriots are playing, but you just have to roll with the punches. I look forward to playing a show every time I get the opportunity to do it. I would not trade this for anything.”