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Bringing life back to the river
RUMFORD- Do you live along the Androscoggin west of town? Over the last couple summers have you heard voices and acoustic music coming from the water? Maybe some laughing and the smell of hot dogs grilling, or a shout of joy at the sight of a fish being caught.
No worries, you’re not losing your mind. Chances are, you’re getting a free concert and hearing the sounds of locals bringing life back to the once highly-polluted river.
During the summer of 2012, Greg and Kelley Chiasson, being avid boaters, bought an old party boat and made it look new again. Not really knowing how they wanted to set up their deck, they pulled their patio furniture and arranged it for a comfortable ride on the new boat.
Kelley jokes that it’s their redneck boat and people probably laugh at the rednecks on the river, but this reporter thought it ingenious and a huge money saver.
Before long, they realized they enjoyed being out on the Androscoggin, and after taking a few trips to find the low spots and potential rock hazards, they invited their musician friends, Gary Petrie and Jamie Virgin, to play. With a few friends, a couple guitars, two southern rock voices, fishing poles, the cooler and a grill; the night on the Androscoggin turned into a weekly outing of friends, not to mention the foundation of a good Maine country song.
Kelley laughed that their anthem of 2012 was Jamie and Gary’s version of Little Big Town’s Motorboating. “They pretty much made it their own. They have fun with their songs.”
On this particular night, while the guys were playing their guitars and singing a few songs, Greg handed over his captain’s chair to Andy Crockett and positioned himself on the bow with a fish pole in hand.
Kelley, Jamie’s wife, Sandy, Gary’s wife, Deanna, and I sat and listened to the music, watched as fish were caught and released, and just enjoyed being on the calm water.
“There’s just something about being out here,” said Kelley. “The water, the music, the air, it’s just relaxing. It’s really a good time.”
After dinner on the grill, the guys took turns fishing and the talk of how to catch fish came up, along with the thought of a newly-invented “Scrog Warbler” and they joke that they’ll need to stare the fish in the eyes when caught.
As the sun set and the river began to grow dark, the C.O.T.R made its way back to the launch.
What is your vision of the Androscoggin River? How are you changing the way you once thought of it?
If you’re looking for ways to enjoy it, grab a pole and step out onto the banks and drop a line. Hop in your kayak and enjoy a paddle between towns with the upcoming Source to the Sea Trek, or just venture out and listen for the C.O.T.R making its way upriver some night soon. Be sure to give out a shout to Jamie and Gary for your favorite country song.