Quill at Woodstock
The Unknown Band of Woodstock
On my docent tours at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts I relate my small piece of the very large Woodstock Music and Art Fair tale. Musically, my own story begins on Saturday 16 August around noon. I tell guests that the opening band that day was Quill and wait. Not surprisingly and sadly, the guests' faces express ignorance of Quill. That 2017 lack of recognition was true, too, in 1969. The same could have been said for Santana, but we all know what their Woodstock appearance did for them. Quill did not make it to either the film or the soundtrack, but they did make it onto my one roll of Kodachrome film. I experimented and held my binoculars to the front of my 35 mm camera to jury rig a zoom lens. When I eventually saw the slide I was disappointed in its lack of focus and black ring. Today, guests talk about how "cool" the picture looks. Thank you!
Woodstock Ventures had hired Quill not just to play at the festival itself, but to play for free in the Bethel area before the festival. According to a Wikipedia entry: The basic line up included Roger North on drums, Norm Rogers on guitar and Phil Thayer on keyboard, sax and flute, with brothers Jon Cole on bass and Dan Cole doing the bulk of the lead vocals. Out of this combination, and with the Cole brothers' focus on original songwriting came 'Quill', which was then signed as a group to Amphion Management. The band spent 1967, 1968 and 1969 regularly playing rock venues in Boston, Providence, and New York, as well as many other smaller markets around the Northeast.
Quill at Woodstock
Here's a Youtube link to their performance at Woodstock. There is a long intro with many different stage announcements. Stage Announcements: 0:01 > They Live The Life: 7:11 > That's How I Eat: 16:06 > Waiting For You: 22:03 > Jam: 23:07
More of what others say
According to the AllMusic site: Most of the songwriting was handled by John and Dan Cole, who were highly literate and tended to deliver fairly complex pieces that lent themselves to elaborate performances, sometimes involving some heavy audience participation as well -- in 1967 and 1968, amid the psychedelic haze of the era, it all seemed very much of a piece with the times and quite effective, at least based on the accounts of those who were there. Their reputation was sufficient to get them opening act spots for artists such as Jeff Beck, Deep Purple, Buddy Guy, and Janis Joplin, and their appearance at Steve Paul's Scene in New York City earned them a booking at Woodstock, but they never made the cut for the movie, owing to a technical flaw in their footage. They did get signed to Cotillion Records, but the resulting debut album languished in stores without the help of exposure from the Woodstock movie. John Cole left not too long after to pursue his own musical horizons, and the remaining members found their effort at a second album rejected by Cotillion. Quill had broken up by 1971 -- ironically, they received perhaps the greatest international exposure of their history 38 years later with the release of Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm, a six-CD set that contained two of the four songs they did at the festival. Roger North is probably the most well-recognized ex-member of Quill, with a lengthy performing career that followed over the next couple of decades (including a stint with the Holy Modal Rounders) as well as his renown, in percussionist circles, as the inventor of North Drums, an unusual and highly specialized design of kit, which he played from the late '60s onward.
Roger North went on to build drums, called North Drums. Here is an interview about that:
Amanda Cole is the daughter of Jon Cole. She has some film footage of the band at Woodstock and has plans to put together a film about Quill. If anyone has any first-hand account of seeing the band or some other Quill-related information, you can contact Amanda via her Facebook page.
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