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Cranberry Lake:†Pickiní their way to radio, records

Spruced Up isn’t the first “old-timey” group to form at ESF. In the 1970s the Cranberry Lake Pickin’ ’n’ Singin’ Society played campus venues.

What started out as a group of friends who enjoyed playing bluegrass, jug band and old-time music at the Cranberry Lake Biological Station in 1972 grew into a professional group that made records and played numerous festivals.

The original group included the late Terry Finger (’75, forest zoology), Brian Burns (’73, EFB), Rich Sobel (’73, EFB), Lewis Cutler (’74, forest botany and pathology) and his wife, Sally Cutler. According to the 1975 edition of the campus newsletter, the group played for enjoyment for a year, then began to play professionally in 1973.  SU coffeehouses,  graduate student functions and a regular gig at Denyo’s, a downtown nightspot, filled their calendar.

“It’s ancient history now, but I guess some people still remember,” Lewis Cutler said of the group.

“We got together at Cranberry Lake and just started playing,” he said of the group’s origins. “Ed Ketchledge (professor emeritus) was a little annoyed and said we were spending too much time playing music and not enough on research.”

Back on the main campus, Cutler said, the band played at some lively events. “We played at the square dances in Nifkin,” said Lewis, referring to the Marshall Hall gathering space that is formally known as Alumni Lounge. “It wasn’t a success until someone broke a leg and once, someone did. It got a little rowdy.”

The group changed membership throughout the years and performed on the radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,”  said Lewis. The group produced three albums that are currently out of print.  

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