New England Music Scrapbook
Oak (LP, Mercury, 1979)Personnel: George Weathers Borden Jr., Danny Caron, Rick Pinette, David Stone, Scott Grover Weatherspoon.
Set the Night on Fire (LP, Mercury, 1980)Personnel: Daniel Caron, John Foster, Rick Pinette, David Stone, Scott Weatherspoon.
Oak was a long-time popular bar band which gave us two fine major-label pop-rock albums, and then it broke up. Because of its Northern New England origins, frequently this outfit has been compared with the Blend and the Bill Chinnock Band. The New England Music Scrapbook's archive doesn't have enough material for a full bio.;* but here is a smattering of basic information.
Oak got started in 1969, playing near the University of New Hampshire campus. The band broke up and reformed often until 1974, when, as Rick Pinette said, "[W]e decided to make it a full-time occupation. It was the only way that anything could really happen."
The band that recorded for Mercury came together as Pinette was joined by Daniel Caron (1976), David Stone (1977), George Weathers Borden, Jr., and Scott Weatherspoon (both 1979). A single, "This Is Love" b/w "Goin' Nowhere Fast" (45, Skys the Limit, 1979), opened a lot of doors for Oak. "Draw the Line," a follow-up single, was quite successful.
A. Jay Higgins, in the January 19, 1980, issue of Maine's Bangor Daily News, said that Oak was "a slick, high-gloss, smooth act;" and he predicted that, with a little luck, they could go as far in the music industry as they wanted. Higgins went so far as to call lead-guitarist Scott Weatherspoon "outstanding."
BAND MEMBERS THOUGHT it was necessary for their second album to be the product of musical growth. "I know," said Pinette, "that if we don't get up and improve the thing, it takes no time at all for it to fall apart."
Mark D. Allan, in the January 8, 1981, issue of the Boston Globe, said that the performances on the second album lacked the energy and fun of Oak's live shows.
I never heard Oak; but after they broke up, I caught a big and quite wonderful show by the Rick Pinette Band at the Bangor Auditorium. Bill Chinnock was the featured act, and Katahdin opened the concert.
After maybe a couple numbers, Pinette told the audience, "I know why you all came out tonight. You came to hear the songs of my old band, Oak." And then Pinette and company powered their way through Oak's greatest hits. For my own part, I really like both of Oak's LPs. Each contained a fine collection of songs; and several tracks, with the right promotion, could have received serious airplay nationally, with the resulting increase in sales. Having said that, though, the night I heard him, Pinette performed the Oak material with an impressive enthusiasm above and beyond what is to be found on the vinyl.
-- Alan Lewis
* Actually, since writing that, I ran across a piece about Oak in Sweet Potato. I think I'll probably bring in at least excerpts from that article when I get the time. Also, we have received e-mail message that add valuable information to what we originally posted here. Stay tuned. -- A.L.
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