Friday, December 25, 2009

Music From Big Pink

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Big Pink

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Weight

The Weight

by J.R.Robertson. Album: Music from Big Pink
© 1968, 1970 Dwarf Music

A C#m D A
I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin' about half past dead;
C#m D A
I just need some place where I can lay my head.
C#m D A
"Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?"
C#m D A
He just grinned and shook my hand, and "No!", was all he said.

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free;
Take a load off Fanny, And (and) (and) you can put the load right on me.


I picked up my bag, I went lookin' for a place to hide;
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin' side by side.
I said, "Hey, Carmen, come on, let's go downtown."
She said, "I gotta go, but m'friend can stick around."


Go down, Miss Moses, there's nothin' you can say
It's just ol' Luke, and Luke's waitin' on the Judgement Day.
"Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?"
He said, "Do me a favor, son, woncha stay an' keep Anna Lee company?"


Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog.
He said, "I will fix your rack, if you'll take Jack, my dog."
I said, "Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man."
He said, "That's okay, boy, won't you feed him when you can."


Catch a cannon ball now, t'take me down the line
My bag is sinkin' low and I do believe it's time.
To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she's the only one.
Who sent me here with her regards for everyone.


The Weight

Music From Big Pink’s initial success was, in retrospect, surprisingly modest for an album which frequently appears in lists of the Top 100 Rock Albums of All Time. It got to #30 in the US charts while the single, The Weight, written by Robbie Robertson, reached only #63. Other artists had more sucess with covering The Weight.

Versions by Jackie DeShannon (US #55, 1968), Aretha Franklin (US #19, April 1969, featuring Duane Allman on guitar), The Supremes with The Temptations (US #46, September 1969) all charted. Significantly for both royalties and for general public awareness, the Diana Ross and The Supremes With The Temptations’ album from which the single was taken reached US #2 and the Aretha Franklin album, Soul 69, reached US #15. The Weight was also heard on the soundtrack of the Peter Fonda / Dennis Hopper film Easy Rider in 1969, which in turn spawned a successful soundtrack album (US # 6 in October 1969 and 41 weeks on the chart). The Band agreed to their version being used on the film soundtrack, then refused permission for it to appear on the subsequent album. Smith did a close cover version which can be heard on the Dunhill soundtrack album. Versions also appeared on contemporary albums by Bloomfield and Kooper (Live Adventures of Bloomfield & Kooper ), Spooky Tooth (a very direct cover, with the interesting addition of harmonica ), The Staple Singers and King Curtis. Virtually every cover cuts out a verse or two. Four hit singles as well as its presence on even more albums within a year means a high profile, in spite of the modest sales of the original single. In the UK the original single was more successful, just failing to get into the top twenty (#21 on September 28 1968). In other words, the Band were not solely responsible for making the song a rock classic, but it is the number they are most associated with, and it turns up on every anthology and nearly every recorded live concert.

The Weight is the centrepiece of the album, both musically and lyrically. First, Robbie Robertson on The Weight:

Robbie Robertson:
I just wrote it. It’s just one of those things. I thought of a couple of words that led to a couple more, and the next thing I knew I wrote the song. That song was the only song on ‘Music From Big Pink’ that we never did rehearse. We just figured that it was a simple song, and when it came up we gave it a try and recorded it three or four times. We said that’s fine, maybe we’ll use it. We didn’t even know if we were going to use it, and it turned out to be the album.1

Robbie Robertson:
When I wrote ‘The Weight’, the first song for ‘Music From Big Pink’, it had a kind of American mythology I was reinventing using my connection to the universal language. The Nazareth in ‘The Weight’ was Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It was a little off-handed - ‘I pulled into Nazareth’. Well I don’t know if the Nazareth that Jesus came from is the kind of place you pull into, but I do know that you pull into Nazareth, Pennsylvania! I’m experimenting with North American mythology. I didn’t mean to take sacred, precious things and turn them into humour.2
(On the album, The Weight closes side one, so Robertson must mean it was the first song written for Big Pink. )

Robbie Robertson:
(Buñuel) did so many films on the impossibility of sainthood. People trying to be good in ‘Viridiana’ and ‘Nazarin’, people trying to do their thing. In ‘The Weight’ it’s the same thing. People like Buñuel would make films that had these religious connotations to them but it wasn’t necessarily a religious meaning. In Buñuel there were these people trying to be good and it’s impossible to be good. In ‘The Weight’ it was this very simple thing. Someone says, ‘Listen, would you do me this favour? When you get there will you say “hello” to somebody or will you give somebody this or will you pick up one of these for me? Oh? You’re going to Nazareth, that’s where the Martin guitar factory is. Do me a favour when you’re there.’ This is what it’s all about. So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it’s like ‘Holy Shit, what’s this turned into? I’ve only come here to say “hello” for somebody and I’ve got myself in this incredible predicament.’ It was very Buñuelish to me at the time.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Billy Hector at Skip's


Billy Hector at Skip's in Browns Mills, Friday, October 30, Mischief Night.
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Newark Star-Ledger photo by John O'Boyle.

Billy Comes To Browns Mills

We were all sitting around talking about going to see Billy Hector at Jake's Escape on Friday, October 30th, when word got out it was cancelled. So I emailed Suzan and asked about getting another gig nearby, and she said go for it.

So there we were at J.C.'s, going through a list of joints - Country Lakes Pub is packed with DJ on Fridays, which leaves Mercedies, the Terrace and Skip's as possibilities, along with Todd's farm, but he already has a bonfire party planned for Saturday night, and we'd all have to chip in for it.

Timmy said "Let's go talk to Skip," and Ross said he would drive so we went over and talked to Skip, who was having some problems with his joint and was looking for a new crowd. We explained how Jake's Escape had cancelled Billy's gig, and he was looking for a new joint to play, and we gave him the convincer - we would bring in a totally new clientele - older, more sophisticated, better tippers, who like good music.

We routinely drive twenty, thirty miles one way to see Billy play, and now we got him in our own back yard.

Skip's used to be Frank's, which was once the legendary O'Bies - O'Brian's, back in the day when it was a worker's bar.

Just down the street towards Pemberton was the Sunset Inn, which became Alexander's, a strip bar and concert hall, as it was a huge room that could hold hundreds of people, no problem.

Alexander's was THE Place for about a year, [See: article on Alexander's and photo of Lowell George of Little Feat], and now its gone.

But the Vibes are back with Billy Hector coming to town, and expectations are running high.

Billy Hector's Web Site:

Billy was the subject of a great article in the Newark Star-Ledger,
which I will post in its entirety,
and was already written up in the New York Times []
and by me [], (also see below),
but this is the best Billy Story, so far.
I'm not done with him yet.

And you can find out where Billy Hector is playing every week at Roger's Roadhouse Report:

Thank's Mark. And good pix John.


Musician »
By Star-Ledger Staff
October 16, 2009, 5:41PM

Strings attached
Guitarist lives to fulfill two missions — one onstage, one at home

A white Chevy van is illuminated by neon signs — Miller Lite, Budweiser — as Billy Hector unloads the tools of his trade outside of Magee’s West Side Tavern in Point Pleasant on a cool, comfortable Thursday evening. He tilts one of two heavy JBL speaker cabinets onto a hand truck and rolls it up a couple of steps to enter the side door of the club.

"I used to do two at a time," says the blues guitarist and singer. "Then I got old."

As Hector enters the club, the voice of another Jersey Shore musician can be heard from the jukebox: "Mister I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man, and I believe in a promised land."

For Hector, the promised land is right here at the back wall of Magee’s, where he performs every Thursday — a modest space by the kitchen decorated with a mirror, two dartboards, a neon Jose Cuervo sign and, in a nod to the season, cotton cobwebs and cardboard figures of a skeleton, vampire and mummy.

Hector, 53, is a veteran of the Shore music scene that was ignited in the 1970s by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, among many acts. Most of the clubs and bands from those days are no longer in existence, but Hector has, as he puts it, "soldiered on." About four nights any given week, Hector and his weathered ’74 "Strat" — that is, the Fender Stratocaster guitar he’s owned since he was a teenager — can be found onstage in Asbury Park, Montclair, Southampton, Belmar, Chatsworth, Long Branch, Clementon, Jackson, Medford Lakes or New York City.

Some of these gigs may run together, but an upcoming one has special significance for the guitarist.

Hector is scheduled to perform in a multi-act benefit organized on behalf of Suzan Lastovica, his partner of 29 years who is often referred to as his wife, on Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Headliner in Neptune.

"We’re ’hippie married,’" Hector says of the woman he calls "the Queen," who has been battling multiple sclerosis for many years.

"You lose a little bit, you gain a little bit," he says of the couple’s struggle with the disease.

"He has never faltered in making me feel, ever, that I’ve been a burden," says Lastovica, a singer who sometimes performs with Hector.

"This is a chronic disability. We’re talking decades. He was always right there, supporting me, taking me to the doctor. He has never missed a step. That’s very special for people who are disabled."

Inner sanctum

He may not look like an entrepreneur with his do-rag, ponytail and bushy sideburns, but Hector has been a self-employed guitarist for going on three decades. Besides the stage, his other place of work is his inner sanctum, his fortress of solitude: the cellar of his Spring Lake Heights home, where he rehearses, writes and teaches.

It is cluttered with souvenirs of his interests and career. Instruments and old equipment are everywhere: four organs, a row of electric guitars, a banjo, an acoustic guitar, tape decks, a computer. There are framed posters: Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Mighty Mouse and two by underground comics icon Robert Crumb, including his infamous "Stoned Again." A poster of a recent gig Hector played with blues legend Hubert Sumlin — who is often backed by Hector’s band — indicates that he is still actively framing.

"I got an old Howlin’ Wolf poster from the Fillmore comin’ in," he says before settling into an easy chair.

A big, black, padded amplifier standing imposingly in a corner must be 6 feet high. "Somebody was getting rid of that," Hector says, nodding toward the amp. "It was in a garage. I said, ’I’ll have it.’ It’s just there as a monument."

Hector was born and raised in Orange, where his parents first met.

"There’s four generations of firemen in my family," he says. "My nephew is a fireman now. My father was a fireman; my grandfather was a fireman; my brother was a fireman. My mother’s from Newark; she moved up to Orange. My parents met in a playground, playing ping-pong. They lived a block and a half away from each other.

"Orange is a lot like Asbury or Neptune. It’s a mixed crowd. Folks get along. There were tough kids. I was the sensitive kid."

Hector attended parochial school for 12 years.

"That’s hardcore," he says with a chuckle. "Our Lady of the Valley. I got along with the nuns. I would get mixed signals. One would ask me what I was gonna do (for a living), and I said I was gonna be a musician. She said, ’Oh, you should be a priest.’ Then after I played an assembly, the next nun that asked me what I was gonna do, I said, ’Oh, I don’t know.’ And she goes, ’Oh, you’re crazy. You should be a musician.’

"But I tried to stay away from the nuns, actually. I tried to do my thing and stay off the radar. Because if you got on the radar, bad things could happen."
Meanwhile, Hector began to take notice of a homegrown phenomenon in Orange.
"There were a lot of bands in the neighborhood," he recalls.

"Everybody had a rock band in the ’60s. There were four bands on my block. I could hear all the older guys. I started to get involved. I started to play."
To support his newfound interest, Hector took odd jobs.

"I delivered the Newark Evening News, because I couldn’t get up early enough for The Star-Ledger — that was a morning paper," Hector says, laughing again.

"I caddied awhile down here, in Manasquan. My parents bought a summer home in Ocean Grove in 1969. My father knew the golf pro at the Brielle club. I used to put my cousin on the bike — on the handle bars — ride from Ocean Grove to Brielle, do nine or 18 holes, and then ride back. Think about that. At 13. That’s crazy. I’m tired just talking about it.

"I worked on the boardwalk in Seaside (Heights) after I got out of high school, as a dishwasher-waiter kind of thing. They only paid me waiter wages, which was, like, a dollar-ten and tips. And I’m an ugly, long-haired kid, with all these young girls around me. So I wasn’t gettin’ many tips, let’s put it that way."

Hector started a band at the Shore and began attending shows by "Southside" Johnny Lyon and the Jukes, who were having hits by the mid-’70s. The shows often took place at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.

"The Jukes were goin’ great guns," Hector recalls. "I mean, the Pony was packed three nights a week. Bruce was showin’ up and playin’ with ’em. He’d just got the Time (and Newsweek) magazine covers (in 1975), so the place was blowin’ up. I met a lot of musicians down there."

When Hector was invited to join the Shots, a horn-centric band that spun off of the Jukes, it was a turning point in the musician’s life.

"I moved down to the Asbury Park area to play with the Shots in 1977," Hector recalls, "and I’ve been here since. And actually, it was a good move. There were clubs down here to play. I didn’t have the personality for New York. When I came down here, I sort of fit in. I got along with all the musicians. Eighteen-year-olds could drink. There were clubs. I mean, it wasn’t just the Pony. There were six, seven clubs in a two-block area. That’s a lot of clubs. And then there were all clubs outside of Asbury, and they all had bands. And then all little bars on the sides would have bands. They were just all over the place. There are at least 15 I can think of in three towns — Asbury, Long Branch and Belmar."

But the golden days of the Shore scene wouldn’t last forever. Several factors — including the raising of the drinking age to 21 and the maturing of the Baby Boomer generation — contributed to the waning of the scene. Even the musicians themselves were dropping out.

"Everybody started doing weddings, this and that," Hector recalls. "They were getting in their 30s. They wanted to make real money." (In the past, Hector has joked that in order to remain in this profession, one must take a "vow of poverty.")

Another milestone

While Hector strove to stay in the game, navigating from band to band, another milestone in his life occurred. Around 1980, he met Lastovica.

"I was giving her guitar lessons," Hector recalls. "She liked the music. She came out to see the band. She liked the fact that I was playing music and she supported me in it. She would help out with bookings, or just the vibe that everything’s okay."

"I don’t think we even knew it was happening," Lastovica, a native of Elizabeth, says of their budding romance.

"We just became best buddies, and then we took it to the next step. We could stay up all night and talk. I don’t want to sound too much like Bruce, but we liked the same music and we liked the same clothes," Lastovica adds, referring to the lyrics of Springsteen’s song "Bobby Jean."

"One night, someone asked Billy what he did for a living and he said he was a truck driver. I said, ’You’re not a truck driver. You’re a guitarist, and a darn good one.’ That might’ve been the night he first kissed me on the forehead."

Bill Stanton and Carol Dragona, both of Ortley Beach, dance as Hector performs with drummer Rich Scanella of Berkeley Heights.

Hector and Lastovica spent the next few years performing together in bands, notably the Fairlanes. As more musicians dropped out of the scene to take on more of life’s responsibilities, Hector began to rotate his rhythm sections — a practice he has maintained ever since.

"Orange is a lot like Asbury or Neptune. It’s a mixed crowd. Folks get along. There were tough kids. I was the sensitive kid." — BILLY HECTOR, on growing up in Orange
Nowadays, when you go to see the Billy Hector Band, it’s anybody’s guess who will be playing bass and drums. You also won’t know what songs he will play — nor will Hector himself. He never plans a set list; as a result, no two Billy Hector shows are alike.
"I don’t write anything down, no," Hector says of winging it.

His stable of bassists and drummers have long since gotten used to Hector’s presumably precarious system.

"Most bands I’m in have a set list, or at least, they rehearse," says drummer Rich Scanella of Berkeley Heights. "With Billy, it’s just ’come as you are.’"‰

"I call him ’the Professor,’" says bassist Winston Roye of New York City, who has been playing with Hector since 1995. (Among many career achievements, Roye is the founding bassist of the hit Broadway musical "Rock of Ages.") "A lot of musicians who’ve played with Billy — we’ve gone on to do many things. We attribute that directly to him. He’s a teacher."

Roger Beckwith of Browns Mills operates the website, which alerts readers to blues acts playing throughout New Jersey. Beckwith first saw Hector perform in the mid-’90s, and has attended "uncountable" shows since. "It’s like an addiction," Beckwith says. "If I haven’t seen Billy for a week, I’ll drive for hours just to catch a show. Some of us call it a ’Billy fix.’""‰

"I always felt Billy was the most authentic blues guitar player I’ve ever gotten to know," says another Shore blues guitarist, Matt O’Ree of Holmdel. (O’Ree is scheduled to perform at the Nov. 8 benefit for Lastovica.) "Just to watch him practice his craft always seems authentic and very inspiring for me."

"I think Billy is an unsung hero," says bassist Michael Stanzilis of Mount Arlington, who was playing with John Eddie in the late ’80s when he first joined Hector onstage. "He’s like an unknown legend in New Jersey."

Spiritual journey

Hector is philosophical about Lastovica’s fight.

"We’re doing good," he says.

"It’s like you’re driving a car and you get a flat tire. What you do is, you get out and you change the tire. Or, you can bitch and moan about it. It all depends on your attitude.

"We knew she had this for a long time. She’s doing things for it — PT (physical therapy), and now they have a drug. That definitely helps things out. Physical therapy is the best thing for her, but the insurance company says she can’t have it. It’s the old joke: The doctor gets off the phone and says, ’Well, the insurance company says there’s no cure.’

"You know, she walks with a walker around the house, canes when she’s outdoors. It is what it is, when you have MS. It’s always a heavy spiritual journey, as anything is in life."

"I don’t think I’d have much of a life if not for Billy," Lastovica says.

"I was never ’broken’ to him. That’s priceless to a person in my position. Believe me, I’ve sat in a lot of doctors’ offices. There are husbands out there who don’t understand why their wives (who have MS) don’t have dinner ready on the table every night when they get home."

Continuing to perform onstage also helps for Lastovica.

"That and my garden are the things that keep me from being an unhappy person," she says. "I have Billy, and my music and my garden."

The music keeps Hector going, too.

"Let’s continue on our road to happiness here," he says as he kicks off his second set at the Point Pleasant gig. Hector soon has the dance floor jumping. A dishwasher peeks his head out the kitchen door to watch as Hector rolls his slide up and down the neck of his Strat.

When Hector makes a dedication to a couple getting married that weekend, his choice of song puts his sometimes ironic humor on display: "Beast of Burden."

"I’m the most comfortable onstage," Hector says of performing. "As soon as we get onstage, everything’s cool. I’m in the game. The ball is in the air, the ball gets hit, and you follow that. Everybody’s playing — the musicians, the audience. The ball’s going back and forth. The energy’s going back and forth. That’s how it works."

Young guitar nerd:

"I used to play all the time when I was a kid. I used to have to stop myself from playing and do something else."

Why Hector bought his 1974 Fender Stratocaster guitar:

Hector’s first guitar was a Harmony Stratotone — not exactly a coveted make and model. "One time, I was in a band," he recalls, "and they were gonna throw me out unless I got a ‘real’ guitar. That’s how they put it to me. They said, ‘You talk to your father tonight about gettin’ a real guitar, or else you’re outta here.’ So I got the (Stratocaster) that I play now, when I was (a teenager).

New York Times


Still Strumming and Rocking After All These Years

Published: September 5, 2008
Asbury Park

BILLY HECTOR’S office is wherever he plugs in his old sunburst Fender Stratocaster, and on this night — the night of his 52nd birthday — it was three blocks, and three decades, away from the place where he first started playing locally, back when everybody with a guitar around here was planning to be a star.

Most of the other musicians from those heady days, when record scouts were trolling Shore bars for the next Bruce Springsteen, have long since surrendered to day jobs, but Mr. Hector was where he always is on a Friday night, and on four other nights most weeks: at work, playing his guitar. Dancers filled the floor in front of the stage at the Wonder Bar, many of them shouting along to the lyrics of “Vagabond,” one of the several hundred songs he has written.

“Happy Birthday, Billy!” someone called when the song ended, and Mr. Hector — his black sideburns tinged with gray, the spotlight reflecting off the glasses he started wearing two years ago — took a small bow with an abashed grin before starting the next one.

It’s a powerful dream that has lured many, but eluded most: to earn your keep in life with nothing but your guitar. It’s what brought Mr. Hector south from his hometown of Orange in 1977, when he joined the Shots, the house band at the Stone Pony; what drove him through the string of other bands in the 1980s and ’90s that almost, but never quite, broke out of the local club scene; and what sustains him still, 14 albums and more than 7,000 gigs later.

“I need to play music — it’s that simple,” said Mr. Hector, whose last regular paycheck was as an equipment tester at a guitar factory in Neptune Township in the early ’80s. “It’s like a calling. My life really hasn’t changed since I was 24. It’s the same goal.”

What has changed, though, is the music business. Record companies, their sales declining, have been paring their rosters, not adding to them, leading more musicians to the conclusion that Mr. Hector reached long ago: that sometimes it’s better to put out your own recordings, and sell them yourself to loyal fans, 3,000 of whom are on his mailing list. And every year or two, another of his regular venues — the Stanhope House was the most recent — closes, and forces him to scramble to fill the empty night in his schedule.

“But when I finally put the guitar on I think to myself, ‘Thank God I’m here now,’ ” he said. “And on the good days, you go beyond thought, and the white light comes in, and then things happen. All time ceases and you don’t even think about what the next chord is, you just speak it.”

In the Wonder Bar as midnight neared, he seemed to have ascended into that realm as he closed his first set with a raucous version of “Old School Thang,” a funk-driven original that is a particular favorite among his fans. He usually plays with just a bass player and drummer, but for his birthday he splurged on two sax players, a trombonist and a harmonica player.

“These are the glory gigs,” he said as he slipped out the back door for one of the cigarettes he avoids smoking at the ranch house in Wall Township he shares with his partner — and co-writer, producer and occasional singer — of 28 years, Suzan Lastovica, who uses canes to get around these days because of her multiple sclerosis.

“There’s a lot of things you do without,” he said about the often precarious gig-to-gig life of a musician. “You don’t get the color TV for a long time. But the gauge for success is whatever you think it is. It’s not necessarily money. My gauge is that I’m still playing.”

Mr. Hector has played for big crowds (including at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland) and with big names (Bonnie Raitt, B. B. King), but he is most at home in a bar like this, on a night like this, with 150 people who come to see him not just because of what he sounds like, but also because of who he is — the one who still carries the torch after so many others have fallen away.

“Like the Statue of Liberty, and hopefully it will never go out,” said Steve Garcia, 49, of Fair Haven, who fights forest fires each summer and was grateful to have returned in time from a deployment in California for Mr. Hector’s birthday. He first saw him in the early ’80s at Mrs. Jay’s, the long-departed biker bar next to the Stone Pony, and was later a regular at the Tideaway in Long Branch, another vanished nightspot. Last call was looming, but Mr. Hector kept the dance floor filled with a 23-minute version of another original, propelled by extended solos by everybody in the band, and he closed with a new composition he called “New Jersey Transit,” an instrumental with a jazzy flavor not often heard past midnight in this rock ’n’ roll town.

“That was my birthday present,” he said as he slipped out the back for another cigarette before he loaded his equipment into his Chevy van for the next night’s gig.

“I got what I wanted.”


My Article:


Billy Hector "Hard Drivin' Blues"
NIGHTBEAT – 050407 – Billy Hector’s Hard Drivin’ Blues
Ocean City SandPaper

I went looking for the future of rock & roll and found it never left Jersey.
Billy Hector is still here, he’s never left, but has yet to venture to the South Jersey Shore.

And he has it all – guitar licks, tight band, great songs and a new CD “Hard Drivin’ Blues,” being released today. The music is there, but there’s something missing – fame and fortune. He drives hard, but not far enough.

Here he is playing a piney roadhouse juke joint in the middle of No Where New Jersey, 20 miles in any direction from a red light, Wa Wa or gas station, plugging into the mahogany wall of the Hedger House, an ancient pit stop for weary travelers. The Hedger House is technically in Tabernacle, but is actually a few miles north of Chatsworth, the unofficial capitol of the Pine Barons (Post office, no light).

The Hedger House location is literally hundreds of years old and you can find it on some of the oldest maps of New Jersey, right there in the middle of nowhere. So it attracts patrons like a light in the forest, especially bikers, Pinies and people who like good music.

It’s acoustic night, with Billy booked by himself, but Sim Cain, Tim Tindal and Winston Roye, his regular drummer and alternate bass players show up anyway and play along without the amps, just for the fun of it.

Sometimes they play with the whole power trio in the other, larger room, and Billy is booked to play outside every other Sunday afternoon all summer, but for this Friday night it’s up against the bar room’s wooden booths, the crowd pressed close together.
Usually Billy Hector plays what they call “down the shore,” but it’s really down the North Jersey Shore.

Hector’s done time in Asbury Park, in the heyday, when he first made a name for himself playing guitar with the Shots, Hot Romance and the horn heavy Fairlanes. Stints in those bands earned a whole chapter to himself in Gary Wien’s book “Beyond the Palace,” a chronicle of the Asbury Park music scene. But now it’s different. He’s beginning to branch out beyond the Park, but hasn’t yet made it to the SouthJersey Shore.

You know Bruce, Southside Johnny and Little Steve, but if you’re not from North Jersey you haven’t heard of Billy Hector even though he’s won three Asbury Park Music Awards for best guitarist, best blues band and a living legend award. He recently played with Sumlin in Asbury Park and backed Bonnie Rait at the Muddy Waters tribute at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But it’s still Billy Who?

After playing with the Stone Pony’s post-Jukes house band, the Shots, Hector continued playing with Suzan Lastovica, and put together a separate power trio that’s come together so tight that you’re not surprised to learn they’ve been playing together for years.

Not your typical new, flashy kid with a guitar, Hector is a veteran journeyman who’s been on the road a long time, though that road has been pretty much limited to North Jersey and New York.

Playing primarily blues, some key originals and classic songs he bends with a Hector twinge, he’s accumulated a vast repertoire and a small but growing clan who follow him from club to club. He plays with with an acoustic gig with Suzan Lastovica at the Ragin Cajun every Wednesday in Belmar every Thursday with the trio at Magees (Rt. 88) in Point Pleasant, and a small circuit of clubs like Harpers in Clementon, the Stanhope House, Daddz, Dempsters and Clarkes in Mt. Holly and the Hedger House.

Once a month he plays the Bitter End in New York City where he entertains the visiting tourists and is gathering another small cadre of serious city fans.

Having traveled to most of those places to see Hector perform, I’ve come to know some of his most regular crowd – led by Roger Beckwith, a former radio DJ whose Roadhouse web site has been listing live band gigs for the past decade.

I first heard of Billy Hector from one of his fans, Timmy Todd, who claimed Hector is “the best guitarist playing today anywhere,” a statement I challenged at the time, but now have reluctantly come to agree with.

You know how restaurant critics eat at a place three times before rating it? Well, after witnessing Hector performs more than a dozen times at many different venues, I’ve never been disappointed and in fact, he continues to amaze me. He seems to be taking his talent to another level each time I catch his act. Billy Hector is the real deal. Of course he couldn’t just be getting better now, or was always so good, but nobody noticed, so he must be just coming into own.

Hector plays with a decided blues bent, having shared the stage with Bruce, B.B. King, Billy Preston, Bo Diddley, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, Dr. John and most recently at Asbury Park with Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist. But he gives everything he plays some kind of a unique Hector twist that even makes classic songs (“I Fought the Law,” “Stray Cat Blues) a little bit different.

“The future will not be blues as we know it,” Hector says, “after all, there’s only one Wolf…,” but it seems Billy has a roadmap in his head that will take the blues to another level, and maybe come out with a new Jersey Blues vein.

One Friday night I had the opportunity to see New Orleans piano giant Dr. John, but instead of standing in line to pay $50 for tickets and go through the cattle call arena routine, I caught Billy Hector at a little Piney bar and had a better time. Billy Hector is the Dr. John of guitar, complete with hat, bandanna and style.

Billy has a pug face out of an Our Gang Bowry Boys neighborhood, and a quirky smile that gives you the impression he knows something special, and maybe he does. He’ll play an obscure Dylan – “It’s alright Ma,” with a slide guitar and slow sleepwalking solo. Then he’ll do a totally unique original “Last Night I Got Loaded,” which is to the blues what ska is to reggae - offbeat, upbeat and danceable.

I’ve never fawned over any musician before, but it’s been a long time since I heard such jaw dropping, mesmerizing riffs that take you to some interesting places on such a roller coaster ride that when it’s over, makes you want to get back on again. And nobody’s talking, the whole room is listening and appreciates the fact they are experiencing something special.

So if this guy is so great, why haven’t we heard of him?

Well, the only answer I can come up with is that Billy Hector is part of the North Jersey Scene, and hasn’t yet crossed the South Jersey barrier, which also separates the fans of Eagles and Giants, Flyers and Devils and Sixers and Nets. It’s an unofficial Mason-Dixon line that runs south of Trenton to Atlantic City that is strictly adhered to, even by the Philly and New York mobs.

Like Springsteen, who has never played South Jersey Shore below Atlantic City, Billy Hector and other Asbury Park bands play Spring Lake, Belmar and Point Pleasant, but never consider playing such garage band bar south shore towns like Somers Point, Sea Isle City, Wildwood and Cape May, which might as well be in another universe. We’re outside their territory, which encompasses everywhere in New Jersey north of Atlantic City.

North Jersey bands stay north of AC and South Jersey bands play the South Jersey Shore scene, and that has made all the difference.

Maybe we can have a battle of the bands, featuring a shoot-out of the hottest guitarists, North Jersey vs. South Jersey bands, and Billy Hector and Little Steve verses Lew London and Danny Eyre, and see who comes out on top.

I have a feeling however, that those guitar gunslingers who check out Billy Hector’s chops won’t even show up to duel, though there’s still time for a South Jersey Shore club owner to be the first to book Billy Hector South of Atlantic City.


Though he hasn’t driven far south enough yet, Billy Hector’s new CD “Hard Drivin’ Blues” is now available [See:].

[Bill Kelly can be reached at]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nick at Big Pink

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Here's a photo of Nick Regine at Big Pink, the legendary house in West Saugerties, New York, near Woodstock, where the Band lived and recorded the Basement Tapes.

Music from Big Pink is also the name of their first album, and features a photo of the house on the cover, with a painting by Bob Dylan on the back.

Music from Big Pink is said to be one of the most revolutionary music albums of all time, and helped develop the legend of Bob Dylan, the Band and Woodstock, years before the festival.

The original Basement Tapes were a two record 33 1/3 LP of plain white cover, like the Beatle's White Album, but there was no cover art or even liner notes.

The sound was pretty grainy too, but you could make out the sound of the Band and Dylan's distinct voice, and unlike the officially released version of the Basement Tapes, there was a lot of laughing and joking around between songs, parts exxed out of the version released by the label.

I remember one of the stories Dylan told between songs was the story of the Checkmate Coffee House of East Orange New Jersey.

Now I think Dylan went to East Orange in the first place, to see Woody Gunthrie, who was in the hospital there, and the story goes that, "I went into the Checkmate Coffee House of East Orange New Jersey and ordered a cup of coffee and paid him with a rook, and I got two pawns for change.

Stupid stuff like that, which made the original Basement Tapes sound real, like you were right there with them, passing around a bottle of wine and a joint.

Some of the songs from the original Basement Tapes were early versions of songs that were included on other albums, like "This Wheels On Fire," "Long Black Veil," and "I Shall Be Released."

As can be seen in Nick's pix, they kept the pink color, and I understand that a hip dude actually bought the place and has maintained it, so maybe it can even be included on the Rock & Roll Historic Trail.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Levon at the Borgatta

Levon Helm at the Borgatta Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Saturday, August 29, 2009

Levon Helm - From the Hawks to the Crows

When Levon Helm came to Somers Point in the spring of '65, he was the leader of Levon & the Hawks, having left rockabilly Ronnie Hawkins and settling into the Jersey Shore scene as the houseband at Tony Marts.

Now he's come back with the Crows, the Black Crows.

I thought Levon had top billing and the Black Crows were going to open for him, but I had it backwards, and Levon and friends opened for the Crows, who recently spent some time at Levon's studio barn in Woodstock, recording a new live double album, "Before the Frost...Until the Freeze," with a unique marketing approach.

[For more see Bobby D's interview with Crows drummer Steve Gorman ]

It was just as well because Levon wasn't singing (Doctor's orders), and it was easier for some of the Crows - Chris and Rich Robinson and Gorman, to sit in with Levon's band than to get a jam going later in the night. Since the casinos make the bands wind up early to get the people into the casino, the second show isn't always the longest or the best, as it usually is in a nightclub. So they had to pour it on all at once and fit it into a neat one hour set, and they did.

At some point early in the proceedings, it was announced that Levon wasn't going to sing, and Chris Robinson of the Crows came out and sang parts of a few songs, including "The Weight," which they took turns singing verses.

Levon should certainly get the Comeback of the Year Award, having survived lung cancer, he was knockin' on heaven's door the last time we saw him at the now defunct Bubba Mac Shack in Somers Point a few years ago (See Photo of Levon with Tony Marts T-Shirt). He had a good band with him then, and he was showcasing his daughter Amy, who has certainly matured into a real stage talent with a fine voice.

Then after beating the cancer, and getting his voice back, Levon cuts Dirt Farmer, which wins all kinds of awards, and puts his name in lights - solo, without the Hawks or The Band.

There were some familiar faces on stage however, besides Amy, especially guitarist Jim Weider,who played guitar with The Band when they played the first Tony Marts Reunion at Egos in the 1980s. Jim was on his honeymoon when he came to the Jersey Shore, and standing next to him on stage is Larry Campbell, who also produced "Dirt Farmer" and the recently released "Electric Dirt."

They also have a live 2 CD set of a live concert they did, which includes some classic Band tunes, "Ophelia," and a mandolyn playing Levon singing "Atlantic City."

While that song was a natural for this show, nobody else probably knew the words (as penned by Bruce Springsteen), but for the songs they did do, everybody seemed to pitch in and take over different vocal chores that are usually handled by Levon.

I mean Levon's voice gives impramatter to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "The Weight" and the they're just different songs if sung by anybody else.

Besides Jim and Larry on guitars, and Amy singing, there's Larry's wife, who sings and plays acoustic guitar, and a boogie-woogie piano player with a Dr. John style, a four man horn section and a stand up base set up behind Levon's drums, on stage right, looking in, with the guitars up front.

They put the horns to work right away with the opening number, "The Shape I'm In," an old Band tune that sturs recognition, as does the somber "Long Black Vail," that Amy does so well, with dad on mandolyn, and letting the horns reign, each taking a solo. And Larry's wife gets to showcase her talent on guitar and vocals on "It Makes No Difference," complete with Rick Danko flashbacks, God bless him.

I thought they'd play a lot more new stuff that I wouldn't recognize, but even when they did I figured it out - "Deep Elm Blues," on which Jimmy shines on guitar, and a song that I happen to know something about, one that Steve Ray Vaughn would have known, since Elm Street in Dallas is just across the leve from his Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas. While in Dallas for a conference I asked a taxi driver to take me to "Deep Elm," which is a at the opposite end of town from Dealey Plaza, where the Texas School Book Depository is on Elm Street where it begins as a little ally bullets flew over in killing JFK. Deep Elm is an old red light neighborhood where there are still a number of bars with live bands - mainly blues and jazz, and that's what the "Deep Elm Blues" is about.

Where "Dirt Farmer" is mainly old country and folk songs that Levon grew up with in Arkansas, "Electric Dirt" has some unique renditions of some classic songs, like "Atlantic City" and "Deep Elm Blues." Then there's the interesting version of the Dead's "Tennessee Jed," that everybody recognizes and is on the new record.

Larry Campbell can sing too, as he does with a verse of "The Weight," and he really blew me away on "Chest Fever," which he takes from Band organist Garth Hudson, and makes it his own, playing Garth's brilliant and complicated introduction on lead guitar, note for note, he hits it, leading the rest of the band into one of their best numbers.

There's a line in "Chest Fever" that refers to the "Goons at the Dunes," which some locals to recall the burley bouncers at the old Dunes 'till Dawn nightclub, which was open all night with live music, on the Longport Blvd to Ocean City and Somers Point, a tidbit that I bet Larry Campbell doesn't know.

Eventually three of the Crows came out - Gorman and the Robinsons, making it a crowded stage, but they got into a grove and maintained it, for one hour.

While there was some concern about Levon's voice and the possibility of a relapse, Amy said that he will be singing again soon, though we'll have to track him down, and maybe even have to go to Woodstock to hear him sing in the barn.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tony Marts Web Site

New Tony Marts Web Site

Tony Marts nightclub doesn't really exist like it once did on Bay Avenue in Somers Point from 1945-1982?, but it's still a big part of the personal evolution of anybody who was there, and now you can virtually go back to Tony Marts by visiting the on line web sit -

I know Carmen and Nancy have been working on this for a long time, but I am really impressed. It's a great setting, fine photos, and good stories, to which I can't wait to add my own.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Levon with Tony Marts T-Shirt


Levon with Tony Marts T-Shirt, backstage at the Bubba Mac Shack, Somers Point, NJ
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Levon Helm at the Borgatta

Levon Helm at the Borgatta, with the Black Crows

Levon Helm will return to Atlantic City on top of the world, with top billing at the Borgatta, and as the headliner of his own show, after leaving last time almost dead.

The last time he was in town, Levon played the Bubba Mac Shack at Somers Point, but he was very sick, undergoing treatment for throat cancer, and couldn't sing, though that didn't stop him from playing drums while his daughter and others picked up the vocals.

Now he's back, with his voice miraculously cured, he's singing again, and sang his way to a Grammy with Dirt Farmer last year, and on track for some new material this year.

Opening for Levon and his band will be the Black Crows, the Atlanta, Georgia band that has come and gone in various stages, playing songs that run from basic blues to a heavy dose of Led Zeplin metal.

In their current incantation, they've regrouped at Woodstock, playing and recording in Levon's barn, where Levon also did most of Dirt Farmer, and where he plays to visitors on occasion.

Of course Woodstock is also where Levon and the Hawks went after leaving Tony Marts in Somers Point in August, 1965 and following Dylan, first to Forest Hills and other venues where they were booed by folk purists and changed the future and direction of rock & roll.

When Dylan was involved in a motorcycle accident, he recouperated at the Woodstock home recording studio of his manger, Albert Grossman, leading the Hawks to the same neighborhood, where they settled down at the house they called Big Pink, and began to call themselves The Band.

Now The Band has lost pianist Richard Manuel and bassist Rick Danko, who passed away a few years ago, and while guitarist Robbie Robertson has completed some solo recordings, and organist Garth Hudson has sat in with other people, Levon keeps plugging away, both at home at Woodstock and on the road.


Monday, August 17, 2009

The Secretary who Changed the World

The Secretary who Changed the World
& The Legend of Woodstock before the Festival.

The legend and the legacy was set before the festival was even envisioned.

It's hard to say exactly where to begin, New York, Somers Point, Montreal, but the Woodstock myth began in the Manhattan office of Albert Grossman, the entertainment manager whose stable of acts included one Bob Dylan, folk singer extradonaire on the rise.

Dylan had come in to the office excited recently, and made Grossman sit down and listen to this - "Once upon a time you dressed so fine, didn't you......?"

They knew "Like A Rolling Stone" was a hit right off the bat, without even having to test it on somebody else's ears.

The Byrds had taken Dylan's folkie "Mr. Tamborine Man" and made it a rock and roll song with drums and electric guitars, and now with "Like A Rolling Stone," Dylan was writing rock & roll, and you could sense the direction he was going, and it wasn't to Woodstock.

As the legend goes, Dylan asked Grossman, his manager, about getting a rock and roll band to back him on his next tour, and who would Grossman recommend.

I don't know if they asked her opinion, or if she overheard the question and volunteered her feelings, but being from a small town in Canada, she knew that the Hawks were the best rock & roll band she had ever seen.

Rockabilly Ronnie Hawkins had left the band, and they continued on the road under the name of Levon & the Hawks, after drummer Levon Helm, from Arkansas, the only American in the Canadian band who had toured with Hawkins for years.

Grossman asked where the Hawks were playing and found out that their manager, Colonel Kutlets, had booked them into a nightclub in Somers Point, New Jersey - Tony Marts.

Without ever having seen or heard of them, and based totally on this unknown secretary's opinion, Dylan got the phone number for Tony Marts and gave them a call.

Levon had never heard of Bob Dylan, and when Dylan asked them to back him at Carnege Hall, Levon asked who else was on the bill.

"Just us," Dylan said, incredulously.

So Levon and the Hawks went up to New York and met with Dylan and Grossman and agreed they would get out of their contract at Tony Marts and back Dylan at Forest Hills, a tennis stadium just outside New York city.

Although Anthony Marotta, aka Tony Mart, didn't like the idea of the "best rock and roll band on the East Coast" breaking their contract and leaving before the Labor Day weekend, he let them off the hook, gave them a cake and fairwell party and wished them luck. He called Colonel Kutlets and asked for a new band to replace the Hawks and Kutlets sent Tony a new band, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, who had a hit, "Devil With the Blue Dress."

But luck the Hawks didn't have.

When Dylan plugged his guitar in at Forest Hills, the old folkies booed him, but he played on.

Levon really didn't like it however, and after a few gigs he left and went back home to Arkansas.

Then Dylan was in a motorcycle accident, and rumors were he died, or was on life support, and then that he was okay but just really banged up and in seclusion while recouperating.

Word eventually filtered out that Dylan was recouperating at Al Grossman's house at Woodstock, New York, an historic artists community with a history that dates back to the turn of the last century.

Joining Dylan at Woodstock were some of the Hawks, who leased a pink duplex in nearby West Saguarties, and jammed in the basement. Around town they became known simply as "the band," and eventually adopted that name. Their first album, "Music From Big Pink," showed the Big Pink house on the cover, and featured a painting by Bob Dylan on the back. A few of the songs were written by Dylan as well.

Then came bootleg recordings, pressed into bootleg LPs with a plane white cover, known as "The Basement Tapes," ostensibly recorded in the basement of Big Pink, and featuring Dylan, not only singing old and new songs, but talking and telling jokes.

The one joke from the original Basement Tapes I remember, that didn't make it to the official release years (decades?) later, is the story of the Checkmate Coffee House of East Orange, New Jersey.

Dylan says he went there once, and paid for his coffee with chess piece, a rook, and got a knight and pawn for change. Or something like that.

But "Music from Big Pink" and "The Basement Tapes" put Woodstock on the map in the back of a lot of people's minds, a year or so before they began to put the festival together.

And after the festival was moved to Bethel, fifty miles from Woodstock, and The Band performed the festival, both the original town of Woodstock and The Band, got left in the festival's wake.

For some reason, and I think Grossman advised The Band not to permit it, but The Band is conspiciously absent from the Woodstock movie and soundtrack, which is not an accident. I don't think they, The Band, at Grossman's advise, permitted them to use them in the Woodstock film, just as The Band's version of "The Weight" is not used in the Easy Rider film or soundtrack, but a cover band's version. And I think that decision was Grossman's.

Around 1986, after seeing the Band and the Band minus Robbie Robertson, and Danko and Manuel together a few times, I helped arrange for the Band to return to Somers Point for a Tony Marts reunion at Egos, the new disco nightclub that was built on the Tony Mart site.

After we booked the Band, but about six weeks before the show, Albert Grossman, Tony Marotta and Richard Manuel all died within a few days of each other.

The show however, went on. And while they were in town, I got to know Rick Danko, Levon and Garth Hudson a little bit on the personal level.

While Rick passed on a few years ago (after playing the Good Old Days Picnic at Kennedy Park), both Levon and Garth returned to Woodstock and live there today.

The Woodstock museum and arts center is not in Woodstock however, but in Bethel, where the festival was held.

There is no doubt however, that rock & roll history was made when Bob Dylan joined forces with the Hawks - electrified Forest Hills and the music scene, and then hibernated at Woodstock, establishing the Woodstock legend years before the festival.

And it only happened because Albert Grossman's secretary knew the answer to the question of who was the best rock & roll band on the East Coast.

Why that would be the Hawks.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dylan No ID Man

Dylan No ID Man

You're Bob Dylan? New Jersey police want to see some ID.

By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 31 mins ago

Rock legend Bob Dylan was treated like a complete unknown by police in a New Jersey shore community when a resident called to report someone wandering around the neighborhood.

Dylan was in Long Branch, about a two-hour drive south of New York City, on July 23 as part of a tour with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp that was to play at a baseball stadium in nearby Lakewood.

A 24-year-old police officer apparently was unaware of who Dylan is and asked him for identification, Long Branch business administrator Howard Woolley said Friday.
"I don't think she was familiar with his entire body of work," Woolley said.

The incident began at 5 p.m. when a resident said a man was wandering around a low-income, predominantly minority neighborhood several blocks from the oceanfront looking at houses.

The police officer drove up to Dylan, who was wearing a blue jacket, and asked him his name. According to Woolley, the following exchange ensued:

"What is your name, sir?" the officer asked.

"Bob Dylan," Dylan said.

"OK, what are you doing here?" the officer asked.

"I'm on tour," the singer replied.

A second officer, also in his 20s, responded to assist the first officer.

He, too, apparently was unfamiliar with Dylan, Woolley said.

The officers asked Dylan for identification. The singer of such classics as "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Blowin' in the Wind" said that he didn't have any ID with him, that he was just walking around looking at houses to pass some time before that night's show.

The officers asked Dylan, 68, to accompany them back to the Ocean Place Resort and Spa, where the performers were staying. Once there, tour staff vouched for Dylan.
The officers thanked him for his cooperation.

"He couldn't have been any nicer to them," Woolley added.

How did it feel? A Dylan publicist did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Friday.

Bob Dylan caught out in the rain

Lauren Viera, Tribune Newspapers
August 17, 2009,0,268995.story

Would you be alarmed if you spotted a strange-looking man wearing black sweat pants and a couple of raincoats wandering in the rain in your front yard?

Would you believe him if he told you he was folk legend Bob Dylan?

Yeah, right.

Such was the quandary the 22-year-old rookie New Jerseypolice officer Kristie Buble faced July 23, after investigating a complaint from the owners of a home for sale in Long Branch, N.J. They'd called the police after spotting an "eccentric-looking old man" wandering around their front yard. It was pouring rain, and the man was alone, looking haggard and lost.

When Buble caught up with the man and asked him to identify himself, he told her he was Bob Dylan. He said he was looking at a house for sale. Furthermore, Buble is reported on as saying, "he didn't look like Bob Dylan to me at all. ... We see a lot of people on our beat, and I wasn't sure if he came from one of our hospitals or something."

After Dylan failed to present identification, Buble drove him to the hotel where he was staying. Turns out he wasn't some nut job from the local hospital, after all. Dylan was on tour withWillie Nelson and John Mellencamp.


It's not the first time the "Like a Rolling Stone" songwriter's identity has been questioned. According to the Associated Press, in October 2001, Dylan was detained in Oregon while attempting to enter the backstage of his own concert -- almost, some might say, like a complete unknown.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

B & W Contact Sheet ACPF crowd

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B&W Contact Sheet Crowd Shots - Tom Ryan photo

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A.C. Pop Fest Revisited

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Atlantic City Pop Fest - August 1969

From what I remember, the summer of '69 was pretty busy, with the Parkway Murders, moon landings, Chapaquidick, Vietnam, Woodstock and me graduating from high school, living on 8th and Wesley, working at Mack & Manco's on the boardwalk and getting ready for college.

I don't think we had decided to go to Woodstock yet, but Sunday night of that weekend was slow on the boarwalk because it rained, so I got off early and either recruited or was recruited by others to go to the Atlantic City Race Track to check out the final night and last few shows of the Atlantic City Pop Fest.

We had previously, late Friday night, after midnight after work, went to downtown Atlantic City to a hip nightclub that was advertising heavily on the radio saying that all the big acts from the festival would be there. They didn't show and only local bands played in a very, day glow, psychadelic joint.

But on Sunday night we jumped into my CJ 5 jeep without doors and drove up to the front gate and parked somewhere close and walked in as people were walking out.

As we got close we could hear Little Richard singing, "Good Golly Miss Molly!" and as we got closer we could see him clear, wearing a fur coat on a hot summer night, he twerrelled the coat around over his head and threw it into the crowd, that was going crazy.

The rain had cooled them off, but this was the last set of the last act and it was a doozy.

I think it was at that moment that I knew we were going to Woodstock.

Years later, 20 years later, in 1989, I wrote an article on the Atlantic City Pop Fest - "It was 20 Years Ago Today," that ran in the Atlantic City Casino Journal.

Which I had previously posted here:

ATLANTIC CITY POP FEST - Flashback, August 1969.

Two weeks before Woodstock became a household name in the late summer of 1969, 110,000 people converged on the Atlantic City Racetrack for the Atlantic City Pop Festival - which included many of the acts who made Woodstock famous - Joni Mitchell, Canned Heat, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, B.B. King, the Byrds, Little Richard, Three Dog Night, Procol Harem, the Chambers Brothers, Frank Zappa, Rare Earth, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Chicago and a dozen ther bands.

While Woodstock became a major cultural phenomenon, media event and movie, the Atlantic City Pop Festival was a musical experience of a lifetime for those who were there.

"It was the frist time something of that magnitude hit the Jersey Shore, and nothing like it has happened since," says Robin Young, one of the the many who paid $15 for a ticket for the three day affair. A one day ticket for the August 1st, 2nd or 3rd, 1969 event were $6.

As one of the first major shows, and by far the largest at that time, produced by the Electric Factory, the A.C. Pop Fest had its roots in the 22nd and Arch Street psychedelic warehouse in Philadelphia, where many of the new bands of that era performed.

Larry Magid, along with his partners Herb and Alan Spivak, introduced the Philadelphia audience to many of the West Coast groups that were then in the vanguard of the cultural revolution that was sweeping the country. San Francisco has its Haight Ashbury, New Yourk has Greenwich Village and Philadelphia has Rittenhouse Square, wher all the hippies would congregate to protest the war in Vietnam, play guitars and throw firsbees.

Around the corner on Sanson Street was the Apple Head Shop, owned by Dan and Pam Davis, who also owned the Birdcage Head Shop on the boardwalk in Ocean City. They sold posters, incense, pipes and jewelry, while aroud the corner, the Electric Facory brought in the music that attracted an increasing larger crowd of the psycheldelic generation.

On February 2nd, 1968, Magid and the Spivak brotehrs opened their club with the Chamber Brothers, whose song, "Time Has Come Today," with its cowbell rhythim, was on the pop charts.

"Music is something you can rally around," says Magid today, noting that for the most part, the bands booked for the Atlantic City Pop Festival had previously played the Electirc Factory. "Chicago, then known as the Chicago Transit Authority, still played the Electric factory, but by that time, we had strated doing shows at the Spectrum."

The A.C. Pop Fest however, was the biggest show they had attempted, and they did it right. The acts matched up and were equal to if not better than Woodstock, and the festival itself was much better organized.

Whereas Woodstock was overwhelmed with a flood of counter-culture campers who crashed the gate, threw a party, left a mess for others to clean up, and lost money, at least until the movie came out, the Atlantic City Pop Festival went off without a hitch.

"They had a nice dream for Woodstock," says Magid, "they certainly had the place. People knew Woodstock at the time as the place where Bob Dylan lived. But they forgot to do the most important thing until it was too late - put the gate up. They sold too many tickets. Maybe if they were able to control their ticket sales they would have been able to control it."

On the other hand says Magid, "We had a good show, and I think it was successful mainly because it was a controlled enviroment at the race track, rather than an open field in the country."

Like Woodstock, which actually took place on Max Yasker's farm near Monticello, New York, local Mays Landing officials tried to ban a gathering of such undesirable elements.

Woodstock itself is still much the same small artists' colony it was 20 years ago, with local residents fighting attempts to hold similar large scale festivals.

From his Electirc Factory office in Philadelphia, where he still runs the company that promotes concerts, Larry Magid said, "Any time you have a large influx of people, the township has to be concerned, and rightfully so. People around the country at the time weren't exactly thrilled with kids with long hair. But we thought we attracted a lot of people. We brought additional revenue to the area. We filled a lot of campgrounds and motels. And we ran an orderly show. Any problems we did have, we were able to contend with them quickly."

"We had a birth, we didn't have any deaths," says Magid, "and we had a good mix of progressive bands that were just beginning to get popular radio airplay, so we didn't have just kids, and sold tickets to people of all ages."

"For Dan Fogel, a Margate musician, it was a family outing. "My parents even went dressed up as hippies," Fogel recalls, "with my mom dressed like an Indian and dad as a cowboy. That's as far as hje got with the hippie thing."

"That was a big year for me," says Robin Young, of Ocean City. "It was the year I made the beach patrol and became a lifeguard. It as also the convergence of a lot of things - the anti-war movement, the psychedelic era, and the music."

"The thing that stands out the most in my mind," recalls Somers Point bartender Jonas Alexy, " is the guy I saw with a crewcut and military jacket with 'Cong Killer' scrawed across his back."

Some people confuse the Atlantic City Pop Festival with another Electric Factory show with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young/Santana concert held at the same location a few years later. And for many, the good times of that period blend into one memory bank where its difficult to recall many details. To put all of this in the right time frame, the Atlantic City Pop Fest was held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1969. The Vietnam war was raging, the ghettos were burning, Richard Nixon was president and man had just landed on the moon.

The counter-culture movement rallied around music, and it was the music that was the attraction. "It was the first time that people in this area were hooked up with the West Coast music scene," contents Robin Young. The Byrds, with their "Eight Miles High," "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn," were there along with the Jefferson Airplane, the Chambers Brothers and Janis Joplin, rounding out the West Coast coningent.

There was also "B.B. King," already familiar to the Atlantic City audience, Dr. John, Iron Butterfly ("In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida"), Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Three Dog Night, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Rare Earth, Booker T. and the MGs.

Procol Harum played their classic, "Whiter Shade of Pale," Canned Heat did "Goin' Up the Country," and Author Brown sang a rousing version of his song, "Fire,.....I get you to burn,...," which was then a hit on the pop charts and radio.

While Woodstock was billed as "Three days of Peace and Music," with a schedule of eight acts a day, folk one day, rock the next, Atlantic City had 29 top flight acts. Magid claims that, "while their show developed into that, it was both good and bad for them. It became unmanageable for the people that were running it, yet it was good because of what it became. Perhaps we gave them a little push."

The 110,000 attendence figure is also a little bit misleading. While Woodstock attracted over a half-million (500,000) people, the A.C. Pop Fest had between 30,000 and 40,000 people each day for three days, wit many of the same people returning for each day. They were swimming nude in the Horese Shoe motel pool on the Pike, and when the motels and campgrounds were full they pitched tents in the woods behind the track.

Bill Muller of Ocean City was in boot camp at Fort Dix at the time. "Some guys from down south in my unit got leaves for the weekend and went looking for somebody who knew how to get to McKee City," Muller recalls. "I told them I would show them where it was if tehy would take me along, so I went AWOL. I took them right to the back stretch instead of to the front gate. We hopped the fence and enjoyed the weekend before going to Nam."

Young remembers that the only big problem he saw was when Hugh Maaskela came on and played some soft quiet music after another band had just stirred the crowd into a frenzy with sname dancing in lines up and down the isles. "One guy was so hot and sweaty he decided to take a dip in the infield lake," Young recalls, "and before long all the people were running towards the lak, pushing and shoving, and I think some people got hurt." The only known casuality.

As far as concert security goes, Magid says, "Rock n' Roll is just like any other industry - it matures. You develop different systems to meet different problems. Hopefully there will be even better ways to do things. We'd like to make the audience more comfortable."

Between sets many people mingled among the flea market booths that were set up in the Club House. At the time many people drank cheap wine, like Boone's Farm, out of brown suede flasks. Another guy says, "Me and my buddy didn't see too much of the music, we were really busy trying to score with the hippie chicks."

Dan and Pam Davis, who ran the head shops on Sansom street and the Ocean City Boardwalk, set up a table concession at the track and sold posters and trinkets to the audience. "That was some show," Dan said, reflecting on the Pop Fest. "I'm still into it today, on tour with the Greatful Dead - riding around the country from concert to concert in a mobilhome, selling things in the parking lot before and after the shows." Pam says that "Turquoise is making a comeback, but crystals are the big thing now."

Could the Atlatnic City track be the site of another festival? The Enviromental Response Network wants to put on a seminar and benefit concert for enviromental, non-profit organizations in September, and Magid says the track is still a good venue. "It's just that there are others that are better."

"We had one other show there, the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Santana. But it is very expensive to have a show at the track. It's hard to work around the horse race meets, and sometimes in this business, it's not possible to do that. Artists compete for dates or go to the place where they'll do the best. We were happy with the two shows wed did there, but now we have JFK and the Vet, which are less expensive and bigger."

The Atlantic City Pop Festival, it seems, was a once in a lifetime occurence.

I caught the last show on the last night and will never forget it. Having graduated from high school that spring, and getting ready for college, I worked all weekend making pizza at Mack & Manco's on the Ocean City (NJ) boardwalk. My peers were persuasive in convincing me to go along with them after work Sunday night to try to catch the last few acts.

The gates were open and people were starting to leave, but as we made our way towards the stage, through the throngs of people, I could see Little Richard swinging a fur coat around his head while singing, "Good Golly, Miss Molly!" It was starting to drizzle , but the place was going wild. Everone was dancing, their arms flaling when Little Richard took his fur coat and flung it into the crowd.

When he broke into "Tutti Frutti," I suddenly realized what rock n' roll was all about. I looked at my buddies and we all knew the answer to the question we had been asking all week, "Are we going to Woodstock?"

The Atlantic City Pop Fest may not be as famous as Woodstock, but it was a better concert, a more organized show, and changed the lives of a lot of people.

"It was the right place at the right time," says Larry Magid. "It was the timing as much as anything, right smack in the middle of that whole era. It was a good experience for many, and when that movement kept getting bigger and more popular and was not just for the moment, not just a fad, the festival became part of our history and folklore."

[Originally published in part in the August, 1989 edition of the Atlantic City Monthly]

Michele, Heather's auntie said...
I certainly agree with you on that one. As one of the people who attended Woodstock, and has written a story in the book Woodstock Revisited, I have to say that was the best concert by far.

I wish I would have thought to put a call out for stories about that one. Your story brings back more memories.

MARCH 30, 2009 1:46 PM
Ellen Christine Millinery said...
I always looked at the AC Pop Festival as a dry-run for Woodstock. After the fact, of course, since that was the furthest thing from my mind at the time. I made it to both, benign little hippie chick that I was. My crowd always stayed at the shore during the summer, but this was the summer a year later after Senior Week had made it's mark. We were still hanging out at the shore on our at-home visits from college, and music was our touchstone. Electric Factory Concerts had us enthralled, so to AC we went.
Woodstock happened a blink of an eye later that same summer, and because of AC, we were ready. At the track all three of those days, drowning in a sea of music, and high from the experience (no comment, please), we felt part of a new generation making it's stamp on the world. Those concerts solidified our beliefs, our destinies. Surrounded by unfamiliar faces all feeling the same vibe, we revelled in those moments of shared consciousness. It was indeed those moments that created the Woodstock Nation, and helped propel our generation to the front lines of changing the world.

JULY 24, 2009 3:44 PM
Jackie Farg said...
I remember driving down to AC with my two girlfriends. We only had enough money for one night in the hotel on the boardwalk. It seemed to take forever to get to the racetrack, cars and people everywhere. Once there people had little tables set up selling their stuff. I remember a girl climbing up the light pole for a better seat. Great time, fond memories. It would be great if there was a tape of it.

JULY 30, 2009 4:36 PM

Dr. John at AC Pop Fest


Dr. John and Company

Photo by Tom Ryan
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AC Pop Fest at Night


AC Pop Fest Stage at Night - Tom Ryan photo
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AC Pop Fest


AC Pop Fest - Tom Ryan photo
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AC Pop Fest Stage


AC Pop Fest Stage - Tom Ryan photo
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Friday, July 31, 2009

B.B. at A.C.

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Tom Ryan Photo

Atlantic City Pop Fest Billboard Press AC Story

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Tom Ryan Photo


Deborah Olin may have been only 13, but she had her parents' OK before she, her friend Nancy and some guy named Billy hitchhiked their way south from Brooklyn, N.Y.
All she knew was that there was some kind of music festival in New Jersey, near Atlantic City, and while her parents felt reassured that her older brother would be there to watch over her - not that she ever saw him that weekend - they did give her one timely bit of advice.

"Don't drink from open containers," she remembers them warning.

At the same time, Barbara Steinman - now Barbara Kornbluh - Atlantic City High School class of '68, got her parents' permission to take their car east from Vineland - although she had heard of it, she did not really know exactly where the Atlantic City Race Course was - while 17-year-old Carole Monday, Mainland Regional High School class of '69, piled into a convertible with six friends and headed west.

"Fifteen dollars? How could you pass up that deal?" Monday said. " A lot of us were told we couldn't go - and we went anyway."

Among her fellow Mainland grads was Dennis DiOrio, now the owner of DiOrio's Circle Cafe in Somers Point.

"We never had anything like that before," DiOrio said. "That was the first time we ever experienced anything of that nature. ... It was just a terrific event."

The neighbors were blindsided.

"This thing came to town like the aliens had landed," said Joe Stafford, of Egg Harbor Township. "The future had arrived at their doorstep, and they didn't know what to do."

And no sooner did it all happen, no sooner did it end, before it all seemed to vanish.

Go ask Alice, I think she'd know...

The three-day Atlantic City Pop Festival was held from Friday to Sunday, Aug. 1 to 3, 1969, at the racetrack in Hamilton Township - although a rare original poster, finally tracked down by Ed Galm, of Maryland, after 30 years of searching, proclaims that the event was in "Atlantic City."

Not only are the posters almost impossible to find, but even images of advertisements, programs and tickets have been difficult to track down. Everyone said they had some kind of memento - but it was in a box somewhere, maybe in the attic, maybe in the basement. Somebody else must have something, right?

As for photographs, forget it. All the original pictures in The Press of Atlantic City's archives have disappeared, just like the original files in the race course's collection. There is almost nothing available online, either. There are 19th century events with more photo documentation than the Pop Festival.

Of course, there is another reason why the event seems to have drifted from memory. Just a few weeks later came another rock festival outside Bethel, N.Y. You may have heard of it. It was called Woodstock.

It featured many of the same acts as the festival in Hamilton - but this time there was a film crew on hand.

So all that's left of the Pop Festival, apparently, is the memories of those who were there.

Oh won't you come with me, and take my hand ...

The festival kicked off with a set from Iron Butterfly - "(They) played 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' for like three hours," said a slightly exaggerating Olin. "I remember thinking, 'When is this going to end?'" - followed by Procol Harum, Chicago and Santana. And Joni Mitchell, kind of.

"Joni Mitchell couldn't handle it," recalled Sherri Tunis, of Linwood, Pa. "She walked off."

"It wasn't a real good fit," said Ira Craig, of Maryland. "They put her in between two rockin' groups, and she burst into tears at one point and left the stage. I felt really bad for her."

Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, B.B. King and The Byrds performed Saturday - "One would clear out, and another would come on," said Vonnie Clark, of Absecon - and Joe Cocker, Canned Heat and the Mothers of Invention appeared Sunday.
And then there was Janis Joplin. "She blew everyone away," said Tunis, while Kevin Quigley, of Voorhees, Camden County, said he got onto the stage to see her - but for sheer vivid imagery, we turn to Kornbluh.

"We got right upfront and saw her no more than three feet away," Kornbluh said. "I still remember her in her hot pink outfit, sipping Southern Comfort. She had high, strappy shoes with rhinestones on them, and she sang 'Me and Bobby McGee.' I'll never forget that as long as I live."

Regarding the Southern Comfort: "She downed that whole thing," DiOrio recalled.
The crowd was mostly peaceful at what The Press called a "freedom binge,"attracting an estimated 40,000 on its final day. As for the temperature, however, Olin recalled that "you could smell the heat."

Track worker Quigley remembers dousing concertgoers with mist from the water wagon - although others tried a different tack.

"A few people decided to jump in the lake," he said. "If they knew what was in the lake, they wouldn't have done that."

As for any, um, enhancements?

Kornbluh: "You could smell the pot, but nobody I knew did LSD."

Tunis: "We were probably sharing a few things that were illegal."

Olin: "You didn't have to smoke. You just had to breathe in the air."

As it turned out, both Tunis and Kornbluh were banned by their parents from attending Woodstock two weeks later - although Tunis did not mind.

"I was quite the little hippie chick at the time," Tunis said, "But guess what? I didn't like dirt that much."

In the end, said Kornbluh, you cannot remove the festival from the greater context of the '60s.

"You turned on the news, and you all you saw was Vietnam and killing at dinnertime," she said. "(The festival) was about young people in search of a good time. ... The music wasn't angry, it was just anti-war - peace, love, sex and rock 'n' roll."

And then it was gone.

E-mail Steven Lemongello:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tony Marts Moved to Macs


Tony Mart Rock 'n Roots JamFestFriday, July 31, 2009 8:03 PM
From: "" View contact details

Due to unforseen circumstances we have moved the Tony Mart's Rock 'n Roots Jamfest to Mac's Restaurant 908 Shore Road in Somers Point. Doors at 6PM, Music at 7. Hope to see you there. If you need directions or any other info, please call 609-653-6069. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Carmen and Nancy Marotta ‘N ROOTS JAMFEST!!

Tony Mart’s celebrates our legacy of classic rock with Jerry Garcia’s birthday party at our Rock ‘n Roots Fest on Saturday, August 1, 2009.

A headline performance by Donna Jean Godchaux and her great jammin’ band will pay tribute to her performances as the female voice of the Grateful Dead from 1972 through 1979.

More classic rock ‘n roll will be provided by local favorites, Cerberus doing Led Zeppelin, Cream and Hendrix and Jeff Schwachter and the Ryders doing a tribute to Bob Dylan and The Band (aka “Levon and the Hawks” at Tony Mart’s in 1965).

New Orleans sounds will be provided by premier banjo player and singer, Franny Smith, and his tuba and trombone trio.

The Fest features continuous music from 7 til midnight just like the jam session days at Tony Mart’s.

There’ll be a late night jam in Mangia on the Greens at Sonny McCullough's Emerald Links.

The ticket price of $20 includes southwestern snacks, samples of Chef Richard Spurlock’s Louisiana Gumbo, tequila and margarita samples and a piece of the 5 foot cake prepared by master baker Michael Weinrich, especially for the Tony Mart’s Rock ‘n Roots Festival.

There’ll be lots of frozen drinks and delicious food available for purchase.

Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and settle in for a gorgeous summer evening at McCullough’s Emerald Links.

The parking will be free and the ambiance of great music on a beautiful summer night will be priceless.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

1969 Fast Facts: Woodstock

1969 Fast Facts: WOODSTOCK,2933,533823,00.html

• Woodstock Music and Art Fair took place August 15-17, 1969

• Woodstock was described as an "An Aquarian Exposition, Three Days of Peace and Music"

• Woodstock drew 400,000 young people to Bethel, New York in the Catskill Mountains.

• The festival created massive traffic jams and extreme shortages of food, water, and medical and sanitary facilities.

• No incidents of violence occurred at the Woodstock festival.

• Most of the 80 arrests at Woodstock were made on drug charges involving LSD, amphetamines and heroin.

• Marijuana smokers, estimated to be the majority of the audience, were not arrested at Woodstock.

• Three accidental deaths were reported at Woodstock.

• The Festival had been scheduled to be held in Walkill, New York.

• After Walkill townspeople objected, it was moved to the 600-acre farm of dairyman Max B. Yasgur.

• The organizers of the festival, John Roberts, Michael Lang and Joel Rosenman, had originally estimated expenses, to be covered by admissions fees, at $750,000.

• The crush of spectators, however, caused ticket-taking to be abandoned.

• Ultimately, Woodstock Ventures, Inc. spent $2.5 million while collecting only $1.5 million.

• The $1 million debt was to be offset by a film of the festival and recordings of the music.

• Acts at Woodstock included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Santana, The Who and a nascent Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

• Festival featured 33 musical acts

• Janis Joplin was paid was paid $7,500 at Woodstock

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bubba Mac Blues at ACCC

South Jersey, New Jersey
(That's Us)

This appears to be a weekly event - every Thursday maybe.

What an invite:

Bubba Mac Blues Band
July 16, 2009 (Thu)
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Atlantic City Country Club
1 Leo Fraser Dr
Northfield, NJ 08225
ph. 609-236-4465


Bring the Family for Blues, BBQ, and Atmosphere!

Flip Flops, Shorts, and a Silk Shirt.…

Weekly Raffle Prizes for Golf and Brunch!

Join us outside on the patio overlooking beautiful views of the AC Skyline.

Free Line & Jitterbug Dance Lessons!

Enjoy our NEW BBQ patio food menu.

Compete in family fun games and Dance to the Bubba Mac Blues Band.

Recreate the memories from the Bubba Mac Shack!


Chickenbone Beach 2009

MONDAY, JULY 6, 2009

Chickenbone Beach Concerts 2009


It used to be that you would catch the jazz in the nightclubs at night, and then see the musicians, bartenders and waiteresses sleeping on the beach in the day. At least that's the way it was in the hey day.

Kentucky Avenue is where the clubs were in Atlantic City, and not far away, on the other side of the boardwalk, was Chickenbone beach was where the musicans were during the day.

With the clubs now gone, and in memory of the Chickenbone Beach heyday, they began this free jazz concert series a decade ago so it should endure into a real Atlantic City tradition.

Held on the boardwalk between Mississippi & Georgia Avenues, in front of Boardwalk Hall at Kennedy Plaza, this year they will hold six free concerts featuring twelve classic acts.

With the opening act beginning at 7 and going to 8 PM, the headliners will perform from 8:30 to 10 PM on select Thursdays beginning July 2 when the Eddie Morgan Trio opens for trombonist Steve Turre, a Mexican-American from the San Francisco Bay area. Steve's played with Ray Charles, the Saturday Night Live band and in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers – The School of Bop. He also plays the shells – The Sanctified Shells – shell choir. Turre has recorded: Lotus Flower (1999 Verve)and In the Spur of the Moment (2000, Telarc). [].

On July 9 Dan Fogel opens for legendary Philadelphia jazz man Bootsie Barnes, who we all know from his many appearances at the Cape May Jazz Fest.

Dan was one of the regulars at the Kentucky Avenue nightclubs, beginning as a patron when he snuck in as a kid, and later on as a keyboard player in some of the makeshift bands they would put together for the shows, which ran from 9 pm until the end of the "Breakfast Show" early in the morning when the sun was up. Then it was time to grab some bibs and chicken at Jimmie's take out across the street from the Club Harlem, and hit the beach. Chickenbone Beach.

Danny and Bootsie on the same bill is something. Bootsie comes from the Old School in Philadelphia, where he is the mainstay of a long jazz tradition, and one of the regular members of the Cape May Jazz Fest Sunday afternoon jam sessions when they end each fest in a rousing fashion.

You can get more info about Dan here: []

And Bootsie can be found at: []

On July 16 – Hassan Abdullah Quintet opens for the First Lady of Jazz Guitar Monnette Sudler, who runs the guitar workshop at the Cape May Fest, encouraging young people to play jazz on the guitar. These two acts will be double dynomyte.


On August 6 the CBB Youth Jazz Ensemble – Camp by IDEA of Camden, New Jersey, my Hometown [], will open for pianist Orrin Evans. Now from Philadelphia by way of Trenton, Evans moved to NY in 1995. A teacher, producer and arranger at the Girard Academy and the Mason Gross School of Arts Rutgers, Orrin has recorded Luvpark; Live in Jackson, Mississipi,(on Imani).

Check them out: []

On August 13 there's Tony Day Trio and flute and sax queen Tia Fuller, a composer and educator, who graduated Magna Cum Laude in college and got a Masters degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from University of Colorado at Boulder (Summa Cum Laude). She's part of the Bayonce Experience and has recorded Pillar of Strength (2005 Wambui) and Healing Space (2007 Mack Avenue). Tia also plays with the T. S. Monk Septet, and other bands and orchestras (ie Nancy Wilson, Jon Faddis, Rufus Reid, Sean Jones) and gave keynote address at the Jazz Institute of New Jersey – “Journey to Success." The daughter of Denver teachers, she has taught at Stanford, played Duquesne and the Panama Jazz Fest.

On August 20 there's Mysterious Traveler with pianist/composer Helen Sung.
Helen is from Texas, UT Austin, where she teaches San Antonio public school students.
[ ] She's recorded Songbird (after Albeniz) and teaches at the Helenistique T. Monk Institute of Jazz at New England Conservatory. With Kennedy Center honors, she is a Chinese classical pianist who switched to jazz while a student at UTAustin.

More on Ms. Helen: []

Now that's some lineup of great jazz, and every one of those acts is also involved, somehow, in teaching jazz to young people. Hell, you should get school credit for just going to the show.

And it's at Kennedy Plaza, where you can also take in some real art - a sculpture of President John F. Kennedy, dedicated at the 1964 Democratic National Convention when his brother Bobby delivered a famous eulogy.

I will get more on the sculpture - the artist is from Texas, and unlike the bla, nothing, box memorial for JFK just off Dealey Plaza in Dallas, this bronze JFK bust is a very real and almost moving likeness. I have photos somewhere - and find some links to Bobby's speech, since if we're going to learn something about jazz we might as well learn something about why they call the venue JFK Plaza, right?

If you agree, let me know