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William Kelly
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From Ocean City to Woodstock

http://oceancitydays.blogspot.com/

Okay, it's been 40 years, I know, I know, and it's always going to be there - a generational milestone against which other major events are measured.

And I did this twenty years ago, when I thought it was a passing fad, and I can't find that clip so I'm going entirely on memory here, but I will do the best I can, spurred on by nudging from my pal Jerry Montgomery, who was inspired to blog his own recollections.

Blog wasn't a word in the dictionary in August, 1969, and the multi-media networks are a major development since the last Woodstock anniversary worth noting.

Just perusing the internet world I quickly realize that others are doing the same thing, and my recollections don't seem to jive totally with what is out there.

For instance, there's the Santana bit about their first album not being out in August, 1969, and that it wasn't released until after they played Woodstock.

Well, that's not the way I remember it.

I remember very distinctly being in a Wildwood motel room with Jerry and Marc Jordan, another good buddy from high school days, and one of them turning me on to Santana, playing what I thought was Black Magic Women, but since that song is not on their first album, it must have been Persuasion, or one of the smooth, thundering Santana songs, putting it on the record player while handing me the album cover, saying, "And Santana is going to be there!. We really got to go to Woodstock."

I knew about Woodstock, having previously had a epiphany like experience the first time I heard the Band's "The Weight" on the radio sometime in 1968. I was living at 362 (Garden Avenue, Camden, N.J.) at the time, and it was a Sunday night, but I don't remember if the dj was Meatball Fulton on the Penn station or Dave Herman on WMMR, where Herman introduced AOR - Album Oriented Rock and changed the world.

Fulton was further out there in Left Field, playing Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart (Trout Mask Replica), so it was probably Dave Herman who played "The Weight," - "take a load off Mammy," you know the song that changed the world, at least for me.

At least it got my attention, and even though this was years before I even learned the Band had been down the Shore at Tony Marts in Somers Point while I was hanging out in Ocean City, but I did know that they had backed Bob Dylan at the historic Forest Hills gig where the folkies booed him for "going electric," and that since Dylan had been in a bad motor cycle accident, their tour together had been postponed and they were all laid back recouperating at a place called Woodstock.

It was an old time, turn of the last century Artist Colony in Mid-state New York, where Dylan's manager Albert Grossman had a home and recording studio. Dylan was holed up at Grossman's house in a cast, while the rest of the Band lived in a pink split level house they called Big Pink in nearby West Saugerties.

When Jerry and Marc were telling me that Santana was going to be at a rock concert at Woodstock, all I could think of was Dylan and the Band.

And the Band were in the lineup for the festival at Woodstock, Marc said convincingly.

We had all went to high school together - Camden Catholic High School, class of '69, and has spent the previous few years at my family rooming house in Ocean City, but this summer Jerry and Marc were working at a grill on the Wildwood boardwalk and living at the motel a few blocks away.

The TV was on with the sound down, Santana was on the record player, and Jerry and Marc were trying to convince me to go to Woodstock with them for this rock festival.

But I had a real, steady job, flipping pizza on the Ocean City boardwalk, and I couldn't just take off a weekend in the middle of the summer.

Then I got a letter in the mail from the University of Dayton (Ohio), where I was due to enroll as a freshman in September, but this letter said that I was to show up for "Freshman Orientation" the same weekend as Woodstock.

So I showed the letter to my boss, Mr. Anthony Mack, who was then in his seventies, and didn't read anyway, so the letter could have said anything, but I was honest with him about the letter, and he said that I had to go, that my education was more important, but make sure I was back for the following weekend - Labor Day, the busiest weekend of the season. I'd be back on Monday I promised.

Then one day, while I was working, Jerry and Marc started talking with a guy with a napsack who was hanging around Shriver's Pier at 9th street and the boardwalk(no longer there), where all the hippies hung out and played guitar and sang. He was in town to visit his sister, who was working at Cooper Kettle Fudge on the boardwalk, and didn't have a place to stay.

No problem. "Our friend has a house down the street and lets everybody stay there."

When I got done making pizza the four of us went to the 9th Street diner (no longer there) for something to eat, and I learned that Jerry and Marc's new friend Mark Connally from Pittsburgh, was also going to be a freshman at the University of Dayton. He too was going to skip "freshman orientation" and go to Woodstock, so we all agreed we were going, and we made plans on meeting up with Mark Connally there. (Ha ha, but little did we know).

Thursday night, after I closed the pizza place, I hurried home, a few blocks away, and Marc and Jerry and Bob Katchnick, another friend from high school, were there, all packed and ready to go. My 1959' CJ5 jeep with no doors was packed with blankets and camping junk, was parked in the alley, but it was damp and wouldn't start.

My mother came out to say goodbye to us, and when we told her the jeep wouldn't start, she said to "take your father's car."

That's what she said, and we didn't argue.

And we were off, in Dad's relatively new 1967 Ford, a square box car, but since my father was a policeman, it had a sign "County Detective" on the visor, which came in handy when we had to pass people and get past roadblocks.

Jerry says he was driving, and I know I crawled in the back seat and went to sleep, but it wasn't long before we were parked on the side of the road and there was a flashlight in my face from the window. It was a cop, and he was asking me, "Does your father know you have this car?"

Before I could answer, he asked another question.

"Are you going to Woodstock?"

"Yes," was the answer, and it must have been the right one, because he let us go with a simple, "Be safe."

By morning, a few hours later, we were getting really close, because we weren't moving very fast as traffic was getting tight.

At some point, whoever was driving picked up a hitch hiker, a fortunious move, as Jerry recalls in his blog - because the guy had already been to the site and knew a back way in, down a dirt road and through some fields that emptied out right back stage, maybe two hundred yards to the right rear of the stage.

It wasn't long however, before we were blocked in and parked there for a few days.

It was damp when we left, and wet when we got there, but it only rained periodically.

Jerry remembers some acid being consumed by some of us, but not me. I didn't drink alochol or even smoke pot, and may have been the only straight and sober person there.

We did have a leather satchel with some wine that we shared, but for the most part, I didn't partake and should have a clear recollection of everything that happened.

I don't.

I do remember scouting out the scene, walking around amazed at everything, and eventually working my way down in front of the stage where I sat with some strangers, who became my friends, and listened to Richie Havens, who I remember the clearest.

Joan Biez also stands out as someone I actually paid attention to, but some of the bands just didn't interest me - like the Who. I just didn't get it.

After seeing Richie Havens and Joan Biez from pretty close up, I went for a walk around the outskirts of the scene, a big mistake because I never got down close to the front of the stage again.

I remember the food court shelling out all kinds of food, and the port a potties, and swimming naked in the lake with a bunch of strangers, actually just to get clean after a rain storm.

There was the medical facilities, that looked like a MASH tent, and there were helicopters constantly flying in and out and buzzing around above us.

Every once in awhile I went back to the car to see if any of the other guys had checked in, but usually nobody was there, until it got dark and we slept in the car, which at least was dry.

I knew my companions for a few years, having met and bonded with them at Camden Catholic. Jerry lived near me in East Camden, is quiet but has a good sense of humor.

Marc was more serious, a transfer to CCHS from arch rival Bishop Eustice, which as an all guy prep school and basketball powerhouse at the time. Marc had played basketball, but was also pretty smart, and for some reason, transferred to Catholic and didn't play basket ball. He drifted towards me and my locker because I was a radical, politically, a "clean for Gene" anti-Vietnam war activist.

Bob Katchnick, which is spelled phonetically, was a real handsome - Troy Donahue like artist, who has a younger hippie sister, and was good friends with Bob Lodge, another artist - the Two Bobs.

Jerry and Marc were hanging out together and close to the wine gourd, while Bob took off on his own, and was probably doing extra-psychadelic enhancers, and of us all, was probably enjoying himself the most.

I know Mark wanted to leave almost as soon as we got there, or at least go get a motel room somewhere, but we were stuck now, in the middle of a half-million people.

That's more than Napoleon's army, and more people than some countries (Monaco, Lichenstein, and the UAE country that's been named to host the next America's Cup).

Finally The Band came on, the one group that I really came to Woodstock to see, and I couldn't get down close to the stage, but I got as I could to the stage left, and when I still couldn't see, I climbed a tree and laid back on one of the limbs with people walking along a trail below me.

While we never did hook up with Mark Connally from Pittsburgh, I thought it was quite unbelievable when, after awhile, I heard Jerry's distinct voice calling out my name. "Yo! Bill."

And I think I frightened him a little when I answered him from above, hanging on to a tree limb.

I saw the Band and heard them, and now I thought the whole trip was worth it.

But Dylan was nowhere to be seen, on or off stage, and I don't think I was the only one disapointed at that.

By Sunday afternoon, there were still a dozen acts to play, but we were pretty much set on getting out of there as soon as the car could be moved and there was traffic moving.

Mark was anxious to go and it didn't take too much convincing me to get going while the gettin' was good.

Bob Katchnick didn't want to leave though, because some of the best acts were still to come, so he said not to worry and that he'd hitch hike home and see us in a few days. And we didn't argue with him.

We left Sunday afternoon so we missed the Sunday night acts and, of course, Hendrix on Monday morning, but I'm sure Bob Katchnick was there, and I later learned from Mark Connally that he hung around and helped clean up the mess.

I don't remember the ride home at all, but when we got home, I do remember that I never saw my father so happy to see me, and his car, though we were both covered in mud. We didn't realize that the festival had made the national news, or the news at all, until we got home and it was only then that we realized what a big thing it was.

I'm going to have to blend Jerry's Blog narrative with this, to see how it jives, but he's told me that he remembers us getting back to Ocean City late Sunday night, and while Mark jumped in the shower, we walked down the alley and around the corner to the Purple Dragon Coffee House on 8th street (now the Horse Horse Ice Cream Parlor), just to show off our Woodstock mud.

If so, that was the only time I bragged about being at Woodstock, because the next day I had to be back at work at Mack & Manco's Pizza on the boardwalk, where I had to tell everybody that I spent the weekend in Dayton, Ohio at "freshmen orientation."

I would have gotten fired for sure if I told them I had actually been to Woodstock.

When I finally got to Dayton, I hooked up with Mark Connally and we became good friends, and eventually moved into an off campus apartment together.

A year or so after Woodstock, Richie Havens came to Dayton and played a concert at the Dayton Arena. I had seats right down front, and after the show I handed Richie a piece of paper that just said something like "Friend Bill Kelly from Woodstock" and the address of a party.

An hour or so after the concert, the party was going pretty strong, with people in every room, but I was hanging out in the kitchen, when a limo pulled up out front, and Richie Havens got out and asked for me, and joined us in the kitchen. The other party guests didn't believe me when I said Richie Havens was coming by, and I was pretty shocked to see him myself, but he came in and pretended he remembered me from Woodstock, and then proceeded to show us how to roll a joint with one hand, just like the cowboys do when they're riding a horse on the range.

By then I was smoking, and drinking draft beer, and we had a grand old time. Richie is still on the road, playing all the time, and when he's not on the road, he lives somewhere in North Jersey. Havens was interviewed on CNN a few nights ago (it should be on YouTube by now), along with Dick Cavatt, who had interviewed Joni Mitchell and Hendrix, both complete interviews also available. The interviewer kept asking Richie Havens these long questions, and Richie, being stoned, answered real slow in few sylables.

As for my Woodstock friends, Jerry is now a computer guy in the mid-west, while Mark is a lawyer in DC, whose married to a lawyer. After Woodstock, Mark got a scholarship to NYU in NYC, and lived in the Village where I visited him a few times. While there he too had an epiphany, joined ROTC and became a USMC officer after graduation. We stayed friends.

We left Bob Katchnick at Woodstock, and I was going to say that we haven't heard from him since, but now I do remember hitich hiking with a girlfriend from Dayton to Detroit and visiting Bob at Wayne State University. I'd like to find out what became of Bob, and get his Woodstock reminisces but I can't seem to get a correct spelling for his last name.

I really became a Band fan, and caught them performing in Cleveland at the Armory there in 1970, and then in Philly at the Spectrum many times, including tours backing Dylan.

One of the first articles I ever had published (Atlantic City Sun) was the story of how the Band, as Levon & the Hawks, played the summer of '65 at Tony Marts nightclub in Somers Point, where they were playing when Dylan convinced them to leave there to back him at Forest Hills.

Then in 1986 we brought The Band back to Somers Point for the first Tony Marts reunion at the original site of Tony Marts, Egos nightclub.

Tony's son Carmen Marotta, opened a nightclub in New Orleans in partnership with Levon Helm - the Classic American Cafe, and Levon and his band from Woodstock, including his daughter, played the Bubba Mac Shack in Somers Point (no longer there) a few times. The last time he was sick, and couldn't sing, but since then, he's beaten the cancer and can now play drums and sing like the good old days. His last album "Dirt Farmer" won a Grammy and he's going to be playing the Borgatta Casino in Atlantic City (August 22) with the Black Crows, who recently recorded a live album at Levon's barn at Woodstock.

In all the Woodstock reminisces I've read over the past week, I haven't seen anything about Dylan, The Band, Albert Grossman, Big Pink or any of the reasons I went to Woodstock in the first place.

So I guess that gives me the opportunity to set the record straight, if I could only remember.

Bill Kelly

August 16, 2009

Browns Mills, NJ

Edited by William Kelly
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From Ocean City to Woodstock

http://oceancitydays.blogspot.com/

Okay, it's been 40 years, I know, I know, and it's always going to be there - a generational milestone against which other major events are measured.

And I did this twenty years ago, when I thought it was a passing fad, and I can't find that clip so I'm going entirely on memory here, but I will do the best I can, spurred on by nudging from my pal Jerry Montgomery, who was inspired to blog his own recollections.

Blog wasn't a word in the dictionary in August, 1969, and the multi-media networks are a major development since the last Woodstock anniversary worth noting.

Just perusing the internet world I quickly realize that others are doing the same thing, and my recollections don't seem to jive totally with what is out there.

For instance, there's the Santana bit about their first album not being out in August, 1969, and that it wasn't released until after they played Woodstock.

Well, that's not the way I remember it.

I remember very distinctly being in a Wildwood motel room with Jerry and Marc Jordan, another good buddy from high school days, and one of them turning me on to Santana, playing what I thought was Black Magic Women, but since that song is not on their first album, it must have been Persuasion, or one of the smooth, thundering Santana songs, putting it on the record player while handing me the album cover, saying, "And Santana is going to be there!. We really got to go to Woodstock."

I knew about Woodstock, having previously had a epiphany like experience the first time I heard the Band's "The Weight" on the radio sometime in 1968. I was living at 362 (Garden Avenue, Camden, N.J.) at the time, and it was a Sunday night, but I don't remember if the dj was Meatball Fulton on the Penn station or Dave Herman on WMMR, where Herman introduced AOR - Album Oriented Rock and changed the world.

Fulton was further out there in Left Field, playing Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart (Trout Mask Replica), so it was probably Dave Herman who played "The Weight," - "take a load off Mammy," you know the song that changed the world, at least for me.

At least it got my attention, and even though this was years before I even learned the Band had been down the Shore at Tony Marts in Somers Point while I was hanging out in Ocean City, but I did know that they had backed Bob Dylan at the historic Forest Hills gig where the folkies booed him for "going electric," and that since Dylan had been in a bad motor cycle accident, their tour together had been postponed and they were all laid back recouperating at a place called Woodstock.

It was an old time, turn of the last century Artist Colony in Mid-state New York, where Dylan's manager Albert Grossman had a home and recording studio. Dylan was holed up at Grossman's house in a cast, while the rest of the Band lived in a pink split level house they called Big Pink in nearby West Saugerties.

When Jerry and Marc were telling me that Santana was going to be at a rock concert at Woodstock, all I could think of was Dylan and the Band.

And the Band were in the lineup for the festival at Woodstock, Marc said convincingly.

We had all went to high school together - Camden Catholic High School, class of '69, and has spent the previous few years at my family rooming house in Ocean City, but this summer Jerry and Marc were working at a grill on the Wildwood boardwalk and living at the motel a few blocks away.

The TV was on with the sound down, Santana was on the record player, and Jerry and Marc were trying to convince me to go to Woodstock with them for this rock festival.

But I had a real, steady job, flipping pizza on the Ocean City boardwalk, and I couldn't just take off a weekend in the middle of the summer.

Then I got a letter in the mail from the University of Dayton (Ohio), where I was due to enroll as a freshman in September, but this letter said that I was to show up for "Freshman Orientation" the same weekend as Woodstock.

So I showed the letter to my boss, Mr. Anthony Mack, who was then in his seventies, and didn't read anyway, so the letter could have said anything, but I was honest with him about the letter, and he said that I had to go, that my education was more important, but make sure I was back for the following weekend - Labor Day, the busiest weekend of the season. I'd be back on Monday I promised.

Then one day, while I was working, Jerry and Marc started talking with a guy with a napsack who was hanging around Shriver's Pier at 9th street and the boardwalk(no longer there), where all the hippies hung out and played guitar and sang. He was in town to visit his sister, who was working at Cooper Kettle Fudge on the boardwalk, and didn't have a place to stay.

No problem. "Our friend has a house down the street and lets everybody stay there."

When I got done making pizza the four of us went to the 9th Street diner (no longer there) for something to eat, and I learned that Jerry and Marc's new friend Mark Connally from Pittsburgh, was also going to be a freshman at the University of Dayton. He too was going to skip "freshman orientation" and go to Woodstock, so we all agreed we were going, and we made plans on meeting up with Mark Connally there. (Ha ha, but little did we know).

Thursday night, after I closed the pizza place, I hurried home, a few blocks away, and Marc and Jerry and Bob Katchnick, another friend from high school, were there, all packed and ready to go. My 1959' CJ5 jeep with no doors was packed with blankets and camping junk, was parked in the alley, but it was damp and wouldn't start.

My mother came out to say goodbye to us, and when we told her the jeep wouldn't start, she said to "take your father's car."

That's what she said, and we didn't argue.

And we were off, in Dad's relatively new 1967 Ford, a square box car, but since my father was a policeman, it had a sign "County Detective" on the visor, which came in handy when we had to pass people and get past roadblocks.

Jerry says he was driving, and I know I crawled in the back seat and went to sleep, but it wasn't long before we were parked on the side of the road and there was a flashlight in my face from the window. It was a cop, and he was asking me, "Does your father know you have this car?"

Before I could answer, he asked another question.

"Are you going to Woodstock?"

"Yes," was the answer, and it must have been the right one, because he let us go with a simple, "Be safe."

By morning, a few hours later, we were getting really close, because we weren't moving very fast as traffic was getting tight.

At some point, whoever was driving picked up a hitch hiker, a fortunious move, as Jerry recalls in his blog - because the guy had already been to the site and knew a back way in, down a dirt road and through some fields that emptied out right back stage, maybe two hundred yards to the right rear of the stage.

It wasn't long however, before we were blocked in and parked there for a few days.

It was damp when we left, and wet when we got there, but it only rained periodically.

Jerry remembers some acid being consumed by some of us, but not me. I didn't drink alochol or even smoke pot, and may have been the only straight and sober person there.

We did have a leather satchel with some wine that we shared, but for the most part, I didn't partake and should have a clear recollection of everything that happened.

I don't.

I do remember scouting out the scene, walking around amazed at everything, and eventually working my way down in front of the stage where I sat with some strangers, who became my friends, and listened to Richie Havens, who I remember the clearest.

Joan Biez also stands out as someone I actually paid attention to, but some of the bands just didn't interest me - like the Who. I just didn't get it.

After seeing Richie Havens and Joan Biez from pretty close up, I went for a walk around the outskirts of the scene, a big mistake because I never got down close to the front of the stage again.

I remember the food court shelling out all kinds of food, and the port a potties, and swimming naked in the lake with a bunch of strangers, actually just to get clean after a rain storm.

There was the medical facilities, that looked like a MASH tent, and there were helicopters constantly flying in and out and buzzing around above us.

Every once in awhile I went back to the car to see if any of the other guys had checked in, but usually nobody was there, until it got dark and we slept in the car, which at least was dry.

I knew my companions for a few years, having met and bonded with them at Camden Catholic. Jerry lived near me in East Camden, is quiet but has a good sense of humor.

Marc was more serious, a transfer to CCHS from arch rival Bishop Eustice, which as an all guy prep school and basketball powerhouse at the time. Marc had played basketball, but was also pretty smart, and for some reason, transferred to Catholic and didn't play basket ball. He drifted towards me and my locker because I was a radical, politically, a "clean for Gene" anti-Vietnam war activist.

Bob Katchnick, which is spelled phonetically, was a real handsome - Troy Donahue like artist, who has a younger hippie sister, and was good friends with Bob Lodge, another artist - the Two Bobs.

Jerry and Marc were hanging out together and close to the wine gourd, while Bob took off on his own, and was probably doing extra-psychadelic enhancers, and of us all, was probably enjoying himself the most.

I know Mark wanted to leave almost as soon as we got there, or at least go get a motel room somewhere, but we were stuck now, in the middle of a half-million people.

That's more than Napoleon's army, and more people than some countries (Monaco, Lichenstein, and the UAE country that's been named to host the next America's Cup).

Finally The Band came on, the one group that I really came to Woodstock to see, and I couldn't get down close to the stage, but I got as I could to the stage left, and when I still couldn't see, I climbed a tree and laid back on one of the limbs with people walking along a trail below me.

While we never did hook up with Mark Connally from Pittsburgh, I thought it was quite unbelievable when, after awhile, I heard Jerry's distinct voice calling out my name. "Yo! Bill."

And I think I frightened him a little when I answered him from above, hanging on to a tree limb.

I saw the Band and heard them, and now I thought the whole trip was worth it.

But Dylan was nowhere to be seen, on or off stage, and I don't think I was the only one disapointed at that.

By Sunday afternoon, there were still a dozen acts to play, but we were pretty much set on getting out of there as soon as the car could be moved and there was traffic moving.

Mark was anxious to go and it didn't take too much convincing me to get going while the gettin' was good.

Bob Katchnick didn't want to leave though, because some of the best acts were still to come, so he said not to worry and that he'd hitch hike home and see us in a few days. And we didn't argue with him.

We left Sunday afternoon so we missed the Sunday night acts and, of course, Hendrix on Monday morning, but I'm sure Bob Katchnick was there, and I later learned from Mark Connally that he hung around and helped clean up the mess.

I don't remember the ride home at all, but when we got home, I do remember that I never saw my father so happy to see me, and his car, though we were both covered in mud. We didn't realize that the festival had made the national news, or the news at all, until we got home and it was only then that we realized what a big thing it was.

I'm going to have to blend Jerry's Blog narrative with this, to see how it jives, but he's told me that he remembers us getting back to Ocean City late Sunday night, and while Mark jumped in the shower, we walked down the alley and around the corner to the Purple Dragon Coffee House on 8th street (now the Horse Horse Ice Cream Parlor), just to show off our Woodstock mud.

If so, that was the only time I bragged about being at Woodstock, because the next day I had to be back at work at Mack & Manco's Pizza on the boardwalk, where I had to tell everybody that I spent the weekend in Dayton, Ohio at "freshmen orientation."

I would have gotten fired for sure if I told them I had actually been to Woodstock.

When I finally got to Dayton, I hooked up with Mark Connally and we became good friends, and eventually moved into an off campus apartment together.

A year or so after Woodstock, Richie Havens came to Dayton and played a concert at the Dayton Arena. I had seats right down front, and after the show I handed Richie a piece of paper that just said something like "Friend Bill Kelly from Woodstock" and the address of a party.

An hour or so after the concert, the party was going pretty strong, with people in every room, but I was hanging out in the kitchen, when a limo pulled up out front, and Richie Havens got out and asked for me, and joined us in the kitchen. The other party guests didn't believe me when I said Richie Havens was coming by, and I was pretty shocked to see him myself, but he came in and pretended he remembered me from Woodstock, and then proceeded to show us how to roll a joint with one hand, just like the cowboys do when they're riding a horse on the range.

By then I was smoking, and drinking draft beer, and we had a grand old time. Richie is still on the road, playing all the time, and when he's not on the road, he lives somewhere in North Jersey. Havens was interviewed on CNN a few nights ago (it should be on YouTube by now), along with Dick Cavatt, who had interviewed Joni Mitchell and Hendrix, both complete interviews also available. The interviewer kept asking Richie Havens these long questions, and Richie, being stoned, answered real slow in few sylables.

As for my Woodstock friends, Jerry is now a computer guy in the mid-west, while Mark is a lawyer in DC, whose married to a lawyer. After Woodstock, Mark got a scholarship to NYU in NYC, and lived in the Village where I visited him a few times. While there he too had an epiphany, joined ROTC and became a USMC officer after graduation. We stayed friends.

We left Bob Katchnick at Woodstock, and I was going to say that we haven't heard from him since, but now I do remember hitich hiking with a girlfriend from Dayton to Detroit and visiting Bob at Wayne State University. I'd like to find out what became of Bob, and get his Woodstock reminisces but I can't seem to get a correct spelling for his last name.

I really became a Band fan, and caught them performing in Cleveland at the Armory there in 1970, and then in Philly at the Spectrum many times, including tours backing Dylan.

One of the first articles I ever had published (Atlantic City Sun) was the story of how the Band, as Levon & the Hawks, played the summer of '65 at Tony Marts nightclub in Somers Point, where they were playing when Dylan convinced them to leave there to back him at Forest Hills.

Then in 1986 we brought The Band back to Somers Point for the first Tony Marts reunion at the original site of Tony Marts, Egos nightclub.

Tony's son Carmen Marotta, opened a nightclub in New Orleans in partnership with Levon Helm - the Classic American Cafe, and Levon and his band from Woodstock, including his daughter, played the Bubba Mac Shack in Somers Point (no longer there) a few times. The last time he was sick, and couldn't sing, but since then, he's beaten the cancer and can now play drums and sing like the good old days. His last album "Dirt Farmer" won a Grammy and he's going to be playing the Borgatta Casino in Atlantic City (August 22) with the Black Crows, who recently recorded a live album at Levon's barn at Woodstock.

In all the Woodstock reminisces I've read over the past week, I haven't seen anything about Dylan, The Band, Albert Grossman, Big Pink or any of the reasons I went to Woodstock in the first place.

So I guess that gives me the opportunity to set the record straight, if I could only remember.

Bill Kelly

August 16, 2009

Browns Mills, NJ

Ahh, vintage Bill Kelly --- I can almost feel the Jersey shore, er Woodstock mud beneath my feet...

Recently heard a snippet on NPR (interview with one of the organizers of Woodstock) "...the bands all sounded horrible for the first 20 minutes of their set, that's how long it took for *black beauties* to kick in...". He went on, "...the only group/artist at Woodstock that had its entire act together was Santana!"...

During College of San Mateo days (1966-68) a little known singer played at the college cafeteria, Country Joe MacDonald (we had other groups show up there on ocassion, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, etc). When Joe showed up on stage at Woodstock we were dumbstruck, for a moment :rolleyes: ...... (the San Francisco bay-area was a great place for music in the late '60's, over 500 bands to choose from, Some could even play, imagine that!)

Edited by David G. Healy
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David,

I"m glad somebody's reading this stuff.

Since I didn't hear anything at all about the real legend of Woodstock, the legend before the festival, I thought I'd write it out myself.

Now I'm going to try to find out the secretary's name.

BK

http://jerseyshorenightbeat.blogspot.com/2...nged-world.html

The Secretary who Changed the World

& The Legend of Woodstock before the Festival.

The legend and the legacy was set before the festival was 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, as in 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 them, and based totally on this 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.

Edited by William Kelly
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David,

I"m glad somebody's reading this stuff.

Since I didn't hear anything at all about the real legend of Woodstock, the legend before the festival, I thought I'd write it out myself.

Now I'm going to try to find out the secretary's name.

BK

http://jerseyshorenightbeat.blogspot.com/2...nged-world.html

The Secretary who Changed the World

& The Legend of Woodstock before the Festival.

The legend and the legacy was set before the festival was 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, as in 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 them, and based totally on this 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.

great stuff Bill Kelly... the Jersey Shore pieces, rock-n-roll anecdotes including Woodstock ... you should write a damn book.... seriously!

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  • 7 months later...

I agree , a great read that lingers. MY question is : Why did you not wait for Jimis as the final act. Very few did and snippets of it exist on film readily available, but there is a two disk continuous recording of Jimis entire performance. To have been one of those few who saw it live, that would be something. I can understand those who theorise something unusual in his and Joplins soon to come deaths.

sdit add:

Star Spangled Banner (Live at Woodstock '69)

Edited by John Dolva
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  • 1 month later...

I agree , a great read that lingers. MY question is : Why did you not wait for Jimis as the final act. Very few did and snippets of it exist on film readily available, but there is a two disk continuous recording of Jimis entire performance. To have been one of those few who saw it live, that would be something. I can understand those who theorise something unusual in his and Joplins soon to come deaths.

sdit add:

Star Spangled Banner (Live at Woodstock '69)

Sony has pulled it so this stocholm 69 version will have to do

Jimi

Edited by John Dolva
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