Tag Archives: Woodstock Music and Art Fair

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock
John a “few” years ago
John Pilla does not have a very large internet footprint and what there is is usually associated as a guitarist with Arlo Guthrie. The reason I am doing a piece on John is because he played with Arlo at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Incidental references

There are some incidental references such as that made by Dr Eugene Beresin from a June 2012 Psychology Today post: "Growing up in the Philadelphia area, I spent a number of years working as a member of the grounds crew for the Philadelphia Folk Festival. As a teenager, I went to the Philly Folk Song Society, frequented the Main Point, and took guitar lessons from John Pilla, who backed up Doc Watson and Arlo Guthrie among others. In fact, I bought my first real guitar through John who got it from Fred Neil. John said it was an old beat up 1935 Martin, but I found out much later it was really made in 1956." 
John Pilla Guitar Woodstock
John's AllMusic credits are also mainly associated with Guthrie, but not just as a guitarist. Pilla has also done photography for albums (e.g., Eric Andersen), engineered albums (e.g. 3 Penny Needle), and produced many of Arlo Guthrie's albums.

The discogs.com site has a similar description of John's discography. 

And an news article from years ago:

John Pilla, also a native Philadephian, has, in his nine years as a guitarist, evolved from rock 'n roll player to one of Philadelphia's finest folk guitarists. John, who is also a songwriter, has just made a record with Doc Watson (who performed at Central last year) and it due to be released shortly. Previous to his becoming a solo performer and his work with Doc Watson, John was a member, along with Jerry Ricks, of the Johnson City Three. Locally, John has appeared at the 2nd of Autum, the Second Fret, and the Main Point, where he is now appearing with Doc Watson.


Here is John playing with Arlo and Doug Dillard. John is in the foreground.

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock
To read more about the Guthrie band at Woodstock, follow this link to Wade Lawrence's WoodsTALK blog. Apparently, John died in 1988 of a heart attach, but if anyone has any more recent or expanded information about John, please comment below or email to woodstockwhisperer@gmail.com

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Sweetwater Alan Malarowitz

Sweetwater Alan Malarowitz

Sweetwater Alan Malarowitz

March 20, 1950 – August 2, 1981
Remembering Alan Malarowitz, the drummer for Sweetwater at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. 

Jay Walker and the Pedestrians

As with nearly every band, Sweetwater grew out of another group: Jay Walker and the Pedestrians.  That is a bit of information that I had never seen or read about until recently when I surfed onto Bruno Ceriotti's site, brunocerriotti dot weebly dot com. At that site Ceriotti has links to many of his projects, one of which is his ( and Mike Stax's) research into Sweetwater. Since today's piece is aimed at Alan Malarowitz, I will only use the tip of the wonderful iceberg of information Ceriotti and Stax have accumulated and I encourage you to use the link above to check out the complete article as well as his research into many other bands and themes.

Nancy Nevins appears

Robert 'Bob' Barboza had formed Jay Walker and the Pedestrians  while in high school in Rhode Island. He moved to Los Angeles where he re-created the band with a core group of players as well as many others who came and went. Sometimes there were four or five playing a gig, sometimes a couple dozen.  But never a vocalist!

The story goes that one April 1967 night on her way home, a too-high-to-drive Nancy Nevins ambled into the Scarab coffeehouse  in Hollywood. Some of the many Pedestrians were hanging out there and jamming. She stared at them awhile. They invited her up. She sang along to a loose version of "Motherless Child." They loved it. She left. Unlike Cinderella, the nameless Nevins left no glass slipper.

Between that hazy evening and re-discovering Nevins, the band played at the Freedom of Expression Concert on Sunday, April 30, 1967

Sweetwater Alan Malarowitz

Sweetwater’s source

Alex Del Zoppo finally located Nevins, she joined the band, and sang with it in sometime in late spring 1967.

Alex Del Zoppo suggested to a few of the band members that with Nevins and a few other more rock-oriented players, they could go in a different direction. That was fine with founder Barboza, he suggested a couple of players, and the as yet unnamed band was on its way with:
1) Alex Del Zoppo: keyboards, vocals
2) Albert B. Moore: flute, vocals
3) Pete Cobian: congas, other percussions
4) Nansi Nevins: lead vocals

5) Fred Herrera: bass, vocals
6) Andy Friend guitar, vocals
7) Alan Malarowitz drums
8) Wesley Lloyd Radlein cello
The story goes that the group went to attend the Monterey Pop Festival and while there Albert Moore drank water from a nearby stream. Nancy said he shouldn't. He disagreed and said it was sweetwater. And so a name arrived.

Sweetwater Alan Malarowitz

At its inception, Alan Malarowitz was only 17, but, he had good feel and instinct for his instrument. He had a sympathetic easygoing temperament, but was often the first to let his hair down when it came time to party. He became a touring and studio drummer in his later career (band site)

 Malarowtiz died when he fell asleep at the wheel in San Bernardino, CA  (source) and crashed.  He was 31.

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Sweetwater Alex Del Zoppo

Sweetwater Alex Del Zoppo

Sweetwater Alex Del Zoppo

Today I continue with my next blog piece on the band Sweetwater. Thus far I have done Nancy NevinsElpidio CobianFred Herrera, and  August Burns. To explain again, the reason that I'm doing them over a few weeks is not because that is how their birthdays happened, but because I only know the birthday of one member, Alan Malarowitz. His is March 20 and I'll post that piece on that day.

Air Force Reserve Alex Del Zoppo

Alex Del Zoppo was one of the original members of Robert 'Bob' Barboza's west coast reincarnation of his east cast band called Jay Walker and the Pedestrians. Del Zoppo was the band's keyboardist.

It is easy to think that in the 1960s young people were simply divided into two groups: pro Vietnam War vs anti Vietnam War. It is also easy to think that anyone in a rock band was automatically anti Vietnam.

Those of us fortunate enough to get into a college and receive a deferment, which often meant a permanent deferment since by the time the student received his college diploma, he might be too old to be drafted.

Alex Del Zoppo was not in college and to avoid the draft joined the Air Force Reserves. When a person was in the Reserves, he received a 1-D - (Member of a Reserve component) classification.

A longer obligation--8 years, monthly weekend meetings, and a two-week summer training was part of that obligation.

Del Zoppo was able to balance his musician's life with his Air Force most of the time.

It was the Jay Walker and the Pedestrian's Alex Del Zoppo who suggested to a few other Pedestrians that they form a new group with the recently discovered Nancy Nevins. Barboza had no problem with that and Alex became Sweetwater Alex Del Zoppo.

Sweetwater Alex Del Zoppo

The band gradually got more and more gigs, opening for concerts, and in 1969 doing many festivals (see Sweetwater Nancy Nevins piece for that list).

Sweetwater Alex Del Zoppo

In September 1968 Reprise records released Sweetwater's eponymous debut album, 'Sweetwater'.  Dave Hassinger produced it and Del Zoppo and Herrera arranged it. They had recorded it at Hassinger's The Sound Factory recording studio located at 6357 Selma Avenue, West Hollywood.


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 in the countryside of upstate New York called Woodstock."  (see Horror stories).

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.

Del Zoppo got in trouble but also eventually got out of the reserves without having to actively serve. 

Post Woodstock

Sweetwater Alex Del Zoppo

From his site (perhaps dated?)
Alex has also played and/or recorded with The Beach Boys, Eric Burdon, Gene Clark of the Byrds,  Donovan,  John Beland of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Chi Coltrane, Patrice (Candy) Zappa, Barry Goldberg,Johnny Tillotson and Severin Browne. 
From the Sweetwater site
Alex provides advice for aspiring musicians:
  1. 1. Sing (or play your instruments) as often as possible in as many situations and different types of music (as long as it’s enjoyable to you) as possible, until what you want to accomplish becomes intuitive. In other words, almost done without having to concentrate on it. That includes your voice too, so that it leaps right to where you want it to every time, with the perfect strength, inflection, pitch and attitude. Keep trying, it’ll all fall into place at some point.
  2. 2. Love what you’re doing. Believe in yourself and your music. Even if you are doing covers (other peoples tunes), make them YOUR OWN. That is, PERSONALIZE them! Be unique, you already ARE! Don’t be afraid to be YOU. (it’s always much more interesting seeing an act which is “Different” than some clone band, no matter HOW good they are).
  3. 3. Imagine yourself right where you’d like to be: a local gig or Carnegie Hall . . . but be PRACTICAL. Visualize yourself singing (or playing) with a band (or by yourself, if you’d like to be a solo) doing EXACTLY what you’d want to be doing. Lock that vision in your mind. It can be altered from time to time, according to your new tastes (and your listening-publics tastes), but generally, KEEP that vision HANDY. Pull it out from your memory banks every so often to keep yourself on track (especially when you’re getting discouraged about how LONG it seems to be taking to learn that chord or to sing that particular line, etc.)
  4. 4. Make some practical goals. You’ll need to Be LOGICAL when it comes to your future. Be HONEST with yourself when it comes to WHERE YOU ARE TODAY in your overall plan. Then try to envision the steps you’ll need to take along the way to reach your ultimate goal (the vision of yourself exactly where you want to be).
  5. 5. Picture yourself part of the way up a mountain and your ultimate goal is to reach the top. If you look at this goal as ONE BIG, SWEATY, BACK-BREAKING CLIMB . . . you’ll NEVER START! Try to see “plateaus” or shelves, ledges or steps along the way. Even the worlds best mountain climbers stop to rest now and then! Set smaller or incremental goals for yourself (within REASON, you won’t be playin’ in your parents’ living room and go straight to Madison Square Gardens by the weekend)! As you achieve each intermediate goal, you can stop to congratulate yourself on a job well done, then envision your ultimate goal and plan your next logical step.
    6. You’ll be surprised how easy it seems once you’ve made a few of those goals. Also how satisfying it feels to accomplish something constructive with your life. 
    7. Keep your ears open along the way for legitimate opportunities that can help you reach your mountaintop. And most importantly:........
  6. 8. Nancy says: “Never give up your dreams”. I have to go along with that. It worked for us, even with all of the crap we had to endure and all the years we had to wait… she believed in our band and told her story over & over until enough people listened. Thanks, Nancy! I’ll say it again, if you want to make something of your life and believe that you have real talent: Never give up your dreams! Go for it!
Reference (an excellent one!) > Bruno Ceriotti

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