Sweetwater Fred Herrera

Sweetwater Fred Herrera

Sweetwater Fred Herrera
Sweetwater Fred Herrera second from right

Woodstock’s opening band

Sweetwater is often described as the opening band at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. That is true as long as the preceding performance of Richie Havens, Daniel Ben Zebulon, and Paul "Deano" Williams is excluded.

Sweetwater deserves the title considering the path their lead singer Nancy Nevins and then the rest of band endured shortly after the famed Woodstock.

Jay Walker and the Pedestrians

Sweetwater evolved out of a band called Jay Walker and the Pedestrians, a band that bassist Robert 'Bob' Barboza  had formed in Rhode Island. Barboza relocated to Los Angeles and reformed his band there.

In June 1967, Pedestrians Alex Del Zoppo (keyboards) , Albert Moore (flute), Pete Cobian (percussion), and Andy Friend (guitar) along with newcomer Nevins (vocals) left Jay Walker and started a new band. It remained unnamed for a bit, but after Moore told Nevins that some stream water he'd just quenched his thirst with wasn't bad at all, it was sweetwater, they realized they'd found a name.

Sweetwater Fred Herrera

Sweetwater Fred Herrera
Fred Herrera far left
Fred Herrera had not been in Jay Walker and the Pedestrians.  Del Zoppo new him from playing other gigs and knew him to be a good rock bassist. Rock was the direction that Sweetwater wanted to head in. Keep in mind that in 1967 the definition of rock had expanded to include the influences from all areas of music. They included idea of jazz jamming along with the feel of free wheeling rock. The odd thing about the band was that it had no guitarist. 

The band became one of the main opening groups for many other suddenly famous bands like the Doors, the Grateful Dead, and Johnny Winter. They joined those bands and many more on the festival circuit. 

TV had realized that this "new music" sold well--that is, advertisers would buy time on their shows if they featured such bands.  On June 10, 1969, Sweetwater played on the Los Angeles TV show, "New Sound." Unusual for these new shows, Sweetwater played live. Herrera recalls, "They actually recorded us video and audio live at the same time, which was never done at that time. All of the other TV shows we did in those day either took the feed directly from the album which we then lip-synched to, or recorded the band offstage beforehand. Then they would come in and 'stage' us according to the music to allow for correct camera angles. It was refreshing that they didn’t care what we did. They just turned on the camera and said, 'Go!' It was a lot different than just about everything else on TV that was going down then."

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

Bruce Blatman was Sweetwater's manager. He suggested the band add another festival to their 1969 summer itinerary: "an intimate, no-pressure music and art fair itn ehcountryside of upstate New York called Woodstock."  (see Horror stories).

Keyboardist Alex Del Zoppo was in the Air Force Reserves at the time. When facing the reality of fighting in Viet Nam, many young men of the time joined a reserved branch of the US military. Though the length of service was longer, the chance of deployment was far less. Del Zoppo told Blatman that his 2-week summer training started Sunday that weekend. Blatman said they'd be the opening act on Saturday afternoon, Del Zoppo could get to JFK Airport in plenty of time to fly to California and his base on time for Sunday.

We know that didn't quite work out as planned. The word plan that Woodstock weekend had a very loose meaning.


Sweetwater Fred Herrera

Del Zoppo got in trouble but also eventually got out of the reserves without having to serve. The point was moot since on December 8, 1969 a drunk driver t-boned the car that lead singer Nancy Nevins sat in. She was in a coma for two weeks and awoke with damaged vocal cords.

Sweetwater did not make the 1970 movie's soundtrack or the movie itself. It became a footnote, a bar bet: what Woodstock band had no guitarist?

The appetite for Woodstock has never gone away. Surprisingly to many, there are many gen-Xers who arrive in Bethel, NY at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts seeking inspiration. Some of Sweetwater's Woodstock music is now available . Though three of the original members have died, the others, including a recovered Nevins, continues to play music.

Herrera's credits include playing or producing Grupo Fuego (1993), The Exies (2000 and 2003), and Father John Misty (2015).

Sweetwater Fred Herrera, Sweetwater Fred Herrera, Sweetwater Fred Herrera, 






Please follow and like us:

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21 Peace Love Activism

US Labor History

The Communist Manifesto

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1848: in London a group of German-born revolutionary socialists known as the Communist League published The Communist Manifesto. Karl Marx, with the assistance of Friedrich Engels, wrote it. The political pamphlet--arguably the most influential in history--proclaimed that "the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles" and that the inevitable victory of the proletariat, or working class, would put an end to class society forever. (see April 12, 1858)
United Farm Workers

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1972, :  the AFL-CIO grandted César E. Chávez and Dolores Huerta's United Farm Workers of America granted a charter. (UFW, see Mar 25)


Nathaniel Gordon

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1862: Nathaniel Gordon became the first and only American slave-trader to be executed under the U.S. Piracy Law of 1820 as he was hanged in New York.

On August 7, 1860, Gordon had loaded 897 slaves aboard his ship Erie at Sharks Point, Congo River, West Africa, "of whom only 172 were men and 162 grown women. Gordon... preferred to carry children because they could not rise up to avenge his cruelties."

The USS Mohican captured the Erie on August 8, 1860. The slaves were taken to Liberia, the American colony established in West Africa by the American Colonization Society for the settlement of free blacks from the United States.(see Mar 24)
Wayman Caliman, Jr
February 21, 1947: students at Williams College in Massachusetts protested a barber in Williamstown who had tried to charge an African-American customer, Wayman Caliman, Jr., $3.00 for a haircut rather than the $1.00 he charged white customers. One of the protesting students was Norman Redlich, who went on to become a distinguished lawyer, member of the Warren Commission that investigated President Kennedy’s assassination, and Dean of New York University Law School. (see April 9)
Montgomery Bus Boycott
February 21, 1956: a Montgomery grand jury indicted 89 leaders of the boycott, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy, for violating a 1921 state statute forbidding boycotts without "just cause."

Grand jurors repudiated anti-segregation efforts in the grand jury report that accompanied the indictment. "In this state we are committed to segregation by custom and law; we intend to maintain it," the grand jury wrote. "The settlement of differences over school attendance, public transportation and other facilities must be made within those laws which reflect our way of life."

As the indicted boycott leaders surrendered themselves into custody at the police station, hundreds of African American supporters gathered outside in a show of support for their efforts to challenge racial discrimination and fight segregation in Alabama.

Of those indicted, only Dr. King was prosecuted. Despite defense evidence showing that the boycott was peaceful and that discriminatory bus service inflicted harm on the African American community, Dr. King was quickly convicted, fined $1000, and given a suspended jail sentence of one year at hard labor.

The indictment and Dr. King's conviction strengthened local African Americans' resolve to fight segregation and attracted national attention to the growing civil rights movement. (BH see Feb 24; MBB, see Mar 8)
February 21, 1961: the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy’s car was sold at auction to help pay off his portion of a $500,000 libel judgment. (see  (BH, see Mar 6; FS, see Mar 28)
Malcolm X

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1965: Malcolm X was shot and killed by assassins as he was about to address a rally in New York City; he was 39. (BH, see Feb 24, MX, see Feb 26)
Black Panthers
February 21, 1970:   in New York City a cell of the Weather Underground fire-bombed the house of Judge Murtagh, who had presided over the Panther 21 trial . The same night, Molotov cocktails were thrown at a police car in Manhattan and two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn (BH, see Apr 12; BP, see Aug 7; WU, see Mar 6)
Tulsa race riot

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 2001: After the Oklahoma State Legislature authorized a commision to study the Tulsa Riot of 1921, the  report recommended actions for substantial restitution; in order of priority:
  1. Direct payment of reparations to survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race riot;
  2. Direct payment of reparations to descendants of the survivors of the Tulsa race riot;
  3. A scholarship fund available to students affected by the Tulsa race riot;
  4. Establishment of an economic development enterprise zone in the historic area of the Greenwood district; and
  5. A memorial for the reburial of the remains of the victims of the Tulsa race riot.
(BH, see Apr 3; RR, see Apr 7)


Ariston Hotel Baths

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1903: New York police conducted raid on a gay bathhouse, the Ariston Hotel Baths. 26 men were arrested and 12 brought to trial on sodomy charges; 7 men received sentences ranging from 4 to 20 years in prison. (see "in 1910")
Eric Rudolph

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1997: Eric Rudolph bombed the Otherside Lounge, an Atlanta lesbian bar, injuring five. (see Apr 30)
Native Americans
February 21, 2015: the national debate over gay marriage, however, prompted some Navajos to re-examine a 2005 tribal law called the Dine Marriage Act, which prohibited same-sex unions on the reservation. Among the tribal politicians who said they were amenable to repealing the law was Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation, who said he would go along with a repeal if the Navajo Nation Council voted in favor of it. (LGBTQ, see Mar 2; NA, see Mar 30)

Native Americans

February 21, 1928: The Meriam Report (officially The Problem of Indian Administration) compiled information and reported of the conditions of American Indians across the country The report combined narrative with statistics to criticize the Department of Interior's implementation of the Dawes Act (February 8, 1887) and overall conditions on reservations and in Indian boarding schools. The Meriam Report provided much of the data used to reform American Indian policy through new legislation: the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. It strongly influenced succeeding policies in land allotment, education, and health care.

The report found generally that the US federal government was failing at its goals of protecting Native Americans, their land, and their resources, both personal and cultural. (see June 18, 1934)

Technological Milestone

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1947:  Edwin H. Land publicly demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which could produce a black-and-white photograph in 60 seconds. 4 lb. Polaroid Land Camera Model 95 was on sale at the Jordan Marsh department store in Boston for $89.75. It made more than $5 million in sales in the first year, and would be the prototype for Polaroid cameras for the next 15 years. (see Oct 5)

Nuclear/Chemical Weapons News

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1958: in England, professor Gerald Holtom designed a nuclear disarmament symbol that became known as the peace symbol. Holtom was a professional artist and graduate of the Royal College of Arts in London. He was one of many intellectuals in Britain during the 1950's who were deeply disturbed by witnessing the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then watching in disbelief as their own government, despite being in a time of post-war material hardship, raced to join the nuclear club. (see Apr 4)


General Lam Van Phat

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1965: the Armed Forces Council dismissed South Vietnam's Gen Nguyen Khanh as chairman and as commander of the armed forces. General Lam Van Phat replaced him. (see Feb 22)
Henry Kissinger
February 21, 1970: National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger began secret peace talks at a villa outside Paris with North Vietnamese representative Le Duc Tho, the fifth-ranking member of the Hanoi Politburo. Le Duc Tho stated that the North Vietnamese position continued to require an unconditional U.S. withdrawal on a fixed date and the abandonment of the Thieu government as a precondition for further progress, which stalled the negotiations. The North Vietnamese rejected Kissinger's proposals for a mutual withdrawal of military forces, the neutralization of Cambodia, and a mixed electoral commission to supervise elections in South Vietnam. (see Feb 25)


February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1965: police raided Owsley Stanley’s makeshift LSD laboratory. He would beat the charges and successfully sued for the return of his equipment. The police were looking for methamphetamine, but found only LSD, which was not illegal at the time. (see March…July)
February 21 Peace Love Activism

Future Woodstock Performers

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21, 1968: Blood, Sweat, & Tears released its first album, Child Is Father To the Man.  Follow link to read more.(see July 1)

The Cold War

February 21 Peace Love Activism

February 21 > 28, 1972:President Richard M. Nixon arrived in China for an historic eight-day official visit. He was the first U.S. president to visit the People's Republic of China since its founding in 1949.

                The meeting between Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai resulted in the Shanghai Communique, a pledge to set aside differences, especially on Taiwan, and to begin the process of the normalization of relations. (see June 4, 1974)

Watergate Scandal

February 21, 1975: former US Attorney General John N. Mitchell, and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, were sentenced to between 30 months and 8 years in prison. (see June 21, 1977)

Sexual Abuse of Children

February 21, 2002:  John Geoghan is sentenced to 9-10 years in prison as the archdiocese continues to reel from the scandal. The extent of the cover-up and the sheer number of priests involved has shocked Boston's large Catholic community, leading to calls for Cardinal Bernard Law to step down. Meanwhile, new cases are being reported in several other states. (see April 8)

Birth Control

February 21, 2014:  the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled against the University of Notre Dame in a case over parts of the federal health care law that forces it to provide health insurance for students and employees that covers contraceptives. The court upheld a federal judge’s earlier ruling that denied the Roman Catholic school’s request for a preliminary injunction that would prevent it from having to comply with the birth control requirement as the university’s lawsuit moves forward. (see Mar 10)

February 21 Peace Love Activism, February 21 Peace Love Activism, February 21 Peace Love Activism, February 21 Peace Love Activism, February 21 Peace Love Activism, 


Please follow and like us: