SNAKE OIL was founded in 1972 as a bluegrass and old-time string band.
It takes its inspiration and name from the medicine shows that traveled
the "Wild West" before the turn of the century. The patent
medicine peddlers found that good entertainment could relax an audience
and open people up to the "product" they were selling. SNAKE OIL's "product"
is music, jokes and entertainment flavored with history and tradition.
SNAKE OIL's blend of old-time, bluegrass, cowboy, western swing, country,
gospel, novelty and folk music has been enjoyed by audiences at festivals,
fairs, square dances, birthday parties, business openings, weddings,
funerals, schools and concerts throughout the Northwest. They’ve
been special cultural envoys on two tours to Japan and one to
Europe. SNAKE OIL is the
host band for the Old Time Medicine Show, has appeared on radio and
TV, and enjoys performing regularly at retirement and care facilities
in the Olympia area.
The members of SNAKE OIL are:
BURT MEYER, guitar and banjo playing vocalist, still lives near Olympia
where he was born in 1941. He grew up on a dairy farm, helping his father
deliver milk door-to-door. His first musical influences were the Edison
cylinder records and old "78" discs his uncle collected and songs his
father sang from his youth. After typical teenage years of custom cars
and Elvis Presley, his interest turned to folk music in the 1960's,
when he joined a Kingston Trio-copy group. With a friend he toured Europe
playing as a street musician and searching out his European family roots.
His interest in music, history, and tradition came to be shared by his
life-partner, Diana, and together they helped found several musical
groups, as well as, the Olympia Folklore Society, Applejam Folk Center,
Tumwater Bluegrass Festival, and The Old Time Medicine Show. Burt's
hobbies, besides music, are building musical instruments, flying aerobatics,
and travel. He likes challenges - having climbed Mt. Rainier at age
40 and run a marathon at 50. He retired from teaching German and French
at a local high school when his hobby overtook his vocation and now
teaches music part time.
DEB HUNEMULLER, Snake Oil's fiddler, singer and vocal arranger since
1987, was born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1952. After graduation from college
she traveled in Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Pakistan , India,
and Nepal. The enjoyment of all these different musical cultures awakened
a desire to learn more of America's music, and the violin that she began
playing at age 10 became a fiddle. It was traditional music that brought
her to the Northwest where she fell in love with the majestic mountains
and Puget Sound. Deb works at the Washington State Department of Ecology
during the day and meets with a variety of other musicians in the evenings
to play tunes and sing. She enjoys composing her own tunes. In her spare
time she loves to hike and camp in the surrounding mountains.
DI MEYER, Snake Oil's bass player and singer, joined the band in 1974
and before that enjoyed singing with husband Burt as a hobby. Snake
Oil, too, is a hobby band as one member has a "day-job". Di taught
English to immigrants and refugees, and helped them adjust to life in
America. She loved this job because she got to meet new people from
other countries and learn about their culture and music. As a band member,
Di's enjoyment comes from the comradeship of good friends, the satisfaction
of working out an intricate arrangement, and the giving of music to
an audience for their pleasure. She prefers lively tunes that she can
play and dance to with the "bottle" bass that Burt made - now the symbol
for Snake Oil. Di has always loved travel - born near Los Angeles in
1945, she has lived in Texas, Washington State, Washington D.C., and
Germany. Home is near Olympia, close to the mountains and the Pacific
Ocean, where she enjoys hiking (her 50th birthday celebration was a
100 mile hike around Mt. Rainier), gardening, visiting and being visited.
SNAKE OIL loves fun, good food, and travel to exotic places. They can
do concerts or square dances and will entertain most any interesting
The Old Time
Medicine Show, CD/Tape