Woodstock Bill Chelf

Woodstock Bill Chelf

 “We had one rehearsal and it really wasn’t enough. I didn’t think it would be a big deal anyway. I’m trying to remember if there’s been concerts before that with that many people, I don’t know if there had been.”

Featured image and above quote  is  from a brief  2019 WBKO News broadcast… https://www.wbko.com/content/news/Bowling-Green-man-remembers-playing-at-Woodstock-550437841.html

Bill Chelf played keyboards with Tim Hardin at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. It is interesting to me not because Hardin had a keyboardist, but because Hardin had six other people in his band besides himself. If you are familiar with Hardin’s work , you already know that it is beautifully simple and hardly needs accompaniment.

In any case, Bill Chelf, like most Woodstock performers has had an interesting path.

Woodstock Bill Chelf


In the above referenced WBKO News broadcast, Chelf says that he didn’t realize how big the Fair would be. Like many covering the Woodstock event, the name and the place were confusing. There is a town in Ulster County, NY called Woodstock and it is the inspiration for the name of the Fair, but it took place in Bethel, NY.

Woodstock Bill Chelf

Kaleidoscopic Career

The  THIS Bill Chelf google site had this to say: With a kaleidoscopic career spanning over fifty years, he’s played churches to honky tonks.   Bill Chelf (THIS) played Woodstock (’69) and Carnegie Hall with singer/ songwriter Tim Hardin. Recording sessions in New York and Nashville  encompassed a wide cross section of bands and singers. An album,”Teachers”, was made with jazz giant James Moody. A year was spent playing with Charlie Daniels. A somewhat different venue included performing and recording with prominent New York poet Barry Wallenstein.

Ten years were spent in Bermuda’s major resort hotels. With the Ghandi Burgess Orchestra Bill backed internationally renowned entertainers such as Gordon McCrae, Helen O’Connell, Helen Forrest, Frieda Payne, Johnny Desmond, Don Cornell, Julius LaRosa, the Drifters and more. Lately, Bill has been at sea performing extensively with the Norwegian and Royal Carribbean Cruise Lines, singing and playing with showbands, as a single and also with his trio.

His quartet, Jazz & Jam On Whole Wheat, performed for over 13 years at Windows On The Cumberland in the historic Market Street District of Nashville,TN. In 1998 he joined Henry Cuesta and Barney Liddell of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra along with remaining members of the Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Harry James orchestras for a U.S. tour billed as “The Battle of the Big Bands”.

While living in Rochester, MN, Bill performed with the Diamonds, the Shirelles, the Turkey River All Stars, numerous jazz, blues and country bands and his own quartet. For two years running he was featured at the Great River Jazz Festival in LaCrosse,WI.  He played New Year’s Eve 2004 and also in 2005 with the Guy Lombardo Orchestra.

Bill studied at seven universities, including the Berklee School of Music and the  Boston Conservatory and has developed a comprehensive method of commercial music instruction for students interested in learning jazz, blues and pop piano.

Bill also produces THIS_hypnotic-ambient-space music.

His home is now Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Woodstock Bill Chelf


Woodstock Bill Chelf


Soundiron website:  added this:  An album,”The Teachers”, was made with jazz giant James Moody in New York. A year was spent playing with Charlie Daniels in Nashville. Ten years were spent in Bermuda’s major resort hotels, most notably with the Ghandi Burgess Orchestra. Lately, Bill has been at sea performing extensively with the Norwegian and Royal Carribbean Cruise Lines. Bill also produces THIS_hypnotic-ambient-space music. His work often includes Soundiron instruments. He has this to say about Emotional Piano, “this instrument sings_with it I can just relax, listen and play”. CD’s and MP3’s can be accessed from his website His home is now Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Woodstock Bill Chelf


If anyone has any additional information please comment and I’ll try to add it.


Woodstock Bill Chelf


Resting Miles Davis Beaten

Resting Miles Davis Beaten

Miles Dewey Davis III was born on May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois and raised in East St Louis.

He became a jazz trumpeter, a bandleader, and a composer, and is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th-century music.

In 1955 and 1957 he was voted Best Trumpeter in the Down Beat Readers’ Poll. 

He was nominated for 32 Grammy Awards and won 8, including a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Oh yea, he was an African American.

August 25, 1959

On August 17, 1959 Columbia Records had released his Kind of Blue album. Kind of Blue is regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz record, Davis’s masterpiece, and one of the best albums of all time.

A week later, on August 25, Davis had just finished a set recording an Armed Forces Day broadcast for Voice of America. at the famous Birdland  in New York City. He’d been with Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane,  Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Ray Barrett.

Around midnight and before the next set, he went outside to get a taxi for a friend and then had a cigarette.

A cop–white–came along and told Davis to move along.

Resting Miles Davis Beaten

That’s my name up there

From the boatagainstthecurrent.blogspot.com site:

Move on, what for?” Davis asked. “I’m working downstairs. That’s my name up there, Miles Davis.

The officer repeated his command, then decided to make an arrest when Davis gave him a hard stare. The cop claimed that Davis pulled away, then tried to grab his nightstick; Davis, who’d taken boxing lessons, said he was moving forward to cushion the force of any blow that might come.

One of three detectives passing by saw the cop falling forward, then rushed toward the musician, pounding him repeatedly on the head with his nightstick.

The beating occurred in a terrible moment in New York, when a deeply racist police force was bringing to the surface long-simmering anger among African-Americans. Not long before, the arrest of a drunken woman in Harlem had led to a riot that required the intervention of boxer Sugar Ray Robinson to quell.

This time, with more than 200 people yelling for the cops to stop beating Davis, the potential for trouble seemed just as great. Hauled down to the 54th Street precinct headquarters, the musician was, he said later, constantly provoked by cops, then booked for disorderly conduct and assaulting an officer. A doctor from St. Clare’s Hospital put five stitches in his scalp.

Resting Miles Davis Beaten

In His Own Words

From Davis’s autobiography:

I had just finished doing an Armed Forces Day broadcast, you know, Voice of America and all that bullshit. I had just walked this pretty white girl named Judy out to get a cab. She got in the cab, and I’m standing there in front of Birdland wringing wet because it’s a hot, steaming, muggy night in August.

This white policeman comes up to me and tells me to move on. I said, “Move on, for what? I’m working downstairs. That’s my name up there, Miles Davis,” and I pointed to my name on the marquee all up in lights.

He said, “I don’t care where you work, I said move on! If you don’t move on I’m going to arrest you.”

I just looked at his face real straight and hard, and I didn’t move. Then he said, “You’re under arrest!” He reached for his handcuffs, but he was stepping back…I kind of leaned in closer because I wasn’t going to give him no distance so he could hit me on the head…A crowd had gathered all of a sudden from out of nowhere, and this white detective runs in and BAM! hits me on the head. I never saw him coming. Blood was running down the khaki suit I had on.

Resting Miles Davis Beaten

Media view

The NY Times reported the following day:
Resting Miles Davis BeatenOn August 27 it reported:

It was more than a year later that justice was finally served:

Note well that Gerald Kilduff, the arresting officer, “may well have been guilty of misguided zeal and not a deliberate violations of law, in placing the defendant under arrest for disorderly conduct , a charge later dismissed in the Magistrate’s Court.”

That’s about all the “justice” a innocent black person could get.

Resting Miles Davis Beaten

Sally Ann Buehler Grossman

Sally Ann Buehler Grossman

August  22, 1939 – March 10, 2021

The Bauls of Bengal

Bringing It All Back Home

Wives of the famous are often known but rarely memorialized. Sally Grossman was an exception. In 1965, Columbia Records released Bob Dylan’s fifth album, Bringing It All Back Home. 

The album is iconoclastic because until the album, Dylan’s recorded music had reflected his acoustic folk songs.  Bringing It All Back Home‘s featured one side of electric and fan blowback was both enthusiastic and damning.

His famous/infamous 1965 Newport Folk Festival appearance was a fork in the road for his fans. Many departed booing.

Daniel Kramer  took the photograph for the album’s cover. There is a collection of items on the album’s cover that fans have spent years deciphering.  Were they placed deliberately (of course), why were they placed, and who is that woman?

In 1965, there was no instant way of discovering who the lady in red (smoking literally and likely figuratively for many) was. It is Sally Grossman, the wife of Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman.

Whether an actual attendee or simply a fan of 1969’s Woodstock Music and Art Fair, the cover’s location is more important than one might realize.

The room Grossman and Dylan sit in is the living room of Sally and Albert Grossman’s Woodstock, NY country home. The Grossmans regularly invited Dylan to their upstate retreat for its beauty, serenity, and isolation.

So enamored with the area, Dylan moved there with his family.

Thus a connection formed between Dylan, arguably the single most important person in rock music at that time, and a little town in upstate New York.

Four years later when Michael Lang, the latest hippie arrival,  considered locating a recording studio there, but that idea morphed into a festival, there was no question in his mind what the name of that festival would be: the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. As many still continually discover, Bethel, NY,  was the actual site of that festival and not close by: an 90 minutes and 60 miles of backroads away.

Sally Ann Buehler Grossman

The Village/Albert

Sally Buehler was born in Manhattan, grew up in Queens. While attending Hunter College  she often, as so many did, hung out at the Village, a 20 minutes subway ride away.

From a theband.hiof.no article: “I used to see Albert Grossman around the Village back when I was still a student at Hunter College in the beginning of the 60s. Everybody knew everybody else on the street at that time. It was incredible. The folk music scene was starting to happen, the beat poets were all around.

“Soon I figured that what was happening on the street was a lot more interesting than studying seventeenth-century English literature, so I dropped out of Hunter and began working as a waitress. I worked at the Cafe Wha?, and then the Bitter End, all over.

“I had real upward mobility as a waitress… Back then Albert never even said hello to me. He was too purposeful, too busy.”

He did start to say hello and though Albert was 13 years older, they married in 1964.

Sally Ann Buehler Grossman


Photo tweeted by
Photo by Daniel Kramer, 1964 and Tweeted by Neil Gaiman

Also from the theband.hiof.no article article: “The years between ’64 and ’70 were a total blur. Our life was incredibly intense. Every night about thirty of us would meet at Albert’s office on 55th Street to go out. The office was constantly packed with people — Peter, Paul and Mary, of course, but also Ian and Sylvia, Richie Havens, Gordon Lightfoot, other musicians, artists, poets… Then there were tours to England and Europe, command performances for the Queen and then the move to Woodstock [in 1963].”

Woodstock, NY is a two hour car ride north of Manhattan and a different world.  Given the anti-mainstream zeitgeist of the 1960s, the area was idyllically located.

Sally Ann Buehler Grossman

Post Albert

There are many stories about how Albert Grossman began to treat his stars badly, often entitled to more of the earnings than they felt were his due. There is the assumption that Janis Joplin’s death in 1970  affected him, he lost interest in the job. Of course, working with artists is never an easy task.

After Albert’s death from s heart attack on a flight from the United States to Europe in 1986, Sally carried on his legacy by overseeing his legendary studio Bearsville which also had had the Bearsville Records label.

She also took on Albert’s dream project: turning a barn into a theater. As she told it, she had no choice…zoning laws in Woodstock were about to change, making it impossible to open a music venue in the future, so she was forced to take on the project earlier than she thought. The Bearsville Theater opened in 1989; Grossman sold it in 2004.

Sally Ann Buehler Grossman


In the 60s, Sally Grossman had discovered an order of religious singers from Bengal known as the Bauls and became enamored with their music.

From her NY TImes obituary:  She created a digital archive of Baul music. Deborah Baker, author of “A Blue Hand: The Beats in India” (2008), wrote about Ms. Grossman and her connection to the Bauls in a 2011 essay in the magazine the Caravan.

“Despite all the famous musicians and bands who once passed through her life,” Ms. Baker wrote, “she found it was the Bauls she missed the most from those years.”

Author Neil Gaiman wrote about Grossman’s passing: “I’m sad to hear that Sally Grossman has passed away. She was funny, salty, sometimes grumpy (but I think she liked me) a smart businesswoman and a fount of stories. No more lunches at the Little Bear.

“The couch (her wedding present from Mary Travers) is empty now.”

Sally Ann Buehler Grossman