Category Archives: Woodstock Music and Art Fair

Norman Rogers Quill

Norman Rogers Quill

April 21, 1943 – July 9, 2011

The band Quill was the opening band of day 2 for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The opening band. Nowadays, when people go to a concert, are in the parking lot tailgating, and someone says, “The first band will be on soon. Should we get going?”

Nah. Never heard of them. Have another beer.”

Opening bands are often the scapegoats. Some of the crowd is actually in so might as well get things going with what is sometimes a good local band, or a band good enough to tour with the big names but not big enough to stand alone.

Norman Rogers Quill

Quill the Opening Band

That was Quill, but at Woodstock the big difference is that even though there may still have been thousands of people still streaming onto Max Yasgur‘s field, there were hundreds of thousands already there.

Woodstock Ventures had hired the Boston-based band to play at the festival, of course, but to also be in the area a week or so early as good will ambassadors to local institutions. “See us? We have long hair and big sideburns and play this rock and roll, but we smile and are good people.”

Brothers Dan and Jon Cole had begun Quill in 1967. Norm was a guitarist, Roger North a drummer, and Phil Thayer a keyboardist.  Rogers had grown up in Brattleboro, VT. He had been in the Morning Start Blues Band.

At noon that sunny Saturday in Bethel, Quill did four songs in a 30 minute set:

  1. They Live the Life
  2. That’s How I Eat
  3. Driftin’
  4. Waiting for You

Norman Rogers Quill

No Woodstock Bump

Cotillion Records did sign them and the band did release an album. Cotillion was the same company that released the famed Woodstock album, but Quill was not on it.

Jon Cole would soon leave the band. Norm Rogers also left, but came back to record a second album. When Cotillion did not release it, the band broke up. Norm returned to Brattleboro.

Norman Rogers Quill


He died in 2011 and the Brattleboro Reformer’s obituary read as follows:

Norman Page Rogers, 68, passed away unexpectedly at home, July 9, 2011. Norman was a loving husband, father, friend, artist, illustrator, musician and student of life. Son of Hubert and Helen Rogers, born April 21, 1943, Ottawa Canada, grew up in Brattleboro. Graduate of High Mowing School, N.H., 1961, studied at St. Lawrence University, Marlboro College and The Arts Students League, New York City. Traveled worldwide with colleague and friend Hugh Swift to Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal and into the Himalayas. Inspired by Never Cry Wolfe, Norman traveled to Newfoundland to find author Farley Mowat. Served in the Merchant Marines and spent time long line fishing off The Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Georges Bank. Norman celebrated the bicentennial by riding his bicycle from Vermont to Washington, D.C. He had an extensive musical career, his band, Quill, was the first band to play at Woodstock, Saturday, Aug. 16, 1969. As a string bass player and vocalist Norman’s career included playing with: Arwen Mountain Band, The Filthy Rich, Jeff Potter and The Rhythm Agents, and The Bill Strecker Band. Past 20 years was a musician with Andy Avery of Normandy. A singer in The Blanche Moyse Chorale. Most recently enjoyed playing with the Windham Orchestra.

Article on entire band from Boston dot com

Norman Rogers Quill

Trumpeter Luis Gasca

Trumpeter Luis Gasca

Trumpeter Luis Gasca

Happy birthday
March 24,  1940

Luis Gasca played in Janis Joplin’s Kozmic Blues Band at Woodstock. That’s why I’m doing this blog piece, but like so many other times in my life, I’ve discovered that that momentous performance is simply one small piece in Gasca’s nearly lifetime of performances.

Trumpeter Luis Gasca


Luis Gasca grew up poor in Houston. His parents made and sold tamales.  Earning a living was first for them. Performing music was not part of the picture, but one day Luis saw two men playing trumpets and he felt something.

By the time he was 15 he was playing gigs and by 16 getting paid to play.

Trumpeter Luis Gasca


By 18 he had a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston and traveled on weekends to New York City and absorbed the music of Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane.

He was drafted, but afterwards lived in Japan awhile–playing trumpet, of course. Then to Oahu.

When asked about his love of the trumpet, he answered, “”It’s a very demanding instrument…. And I’ll never quit learning it. I got that at an early age: Never let anything slide. I have a hunger and a thirst for music. That love for something, that is the impetus to make you never never quit, to make you give it your all. That love cannot be taught. One has to love the music and the knowledge. I’m 100 % joyous playing music with other masters.”

Trumpeter Luis Gasca


Here’s a wonderful video montage of Janis (mostly),  but some with Luis.

Count Basie and more

One of his greatest achievements was being a part of the Count Basie Band.

In 1969, he released  “The Little Giant” album. on Atlantic. Interestingly, one of the album’s cuts is “Motherless Child” the same song made famous as part of Richie Haven‘s famous Woodstock improvisation of Motherless Child/Freedom as well as the very next song played at Woodstock, Sweetwater‘s cover of the same song.

Gasco’s cover is like no Motherless Child you’ve ever heard:

Trumpeter Luis Gasca


In 1972, Gasca was playing in The Malibus, which became Malo. It had released its first album eponymously named “Malo.” By the way, the lead guitarist in that band was one Jorge Santana. Jorge has a pretty famous older brother by the name of Carlos.

From a WBGO article: “Nena” opens [the album] with a face-grabbing bass riff by Pablo Telez over a driving son montuno with rock rhythm generated by Victor Pantoja (congas), Coke Escovedo (timbales) and Richard Spremich (drums), and a fiery brass intro. Trombonist Ron Murray, famed jazz trumpeter Luis Gasca and organist Richard Kermode are featured.”

I featured the song “Just Say Goodbye” from that album because Gasca co-wrote the song.

Another interesting member of Malo was keyboardist Richard Kermode who was also at Woodstock and also played with Janis Joplin there.

Solo artist

Gasca’s “For Those Who Chant” album cover

Gasca released three other albums: For Those Who Chant (1972), Luis Gasca (1972), and Collage (1976).  And though that discography may seem short, have a Snickers nearby if you’re going to look at his extensive credit list at AllMusic.

Among the names listed are Santana, Van Morrison, and Mike Bloomfield.

For those who want to know, a few guys were on that “For Those Who Chant” album who also had Woodstock connections: Greg Rolie, Mike Carabello, Michael Shrieve, Carlos Santana, and Jose,”Chepito” Areas.

That’s right…most of the Santana band played on the album.

Bob Weir

As mentioned above, Gasca has played for many people [see Allmusic listing]. Among them he played for Bob Weir on his first solo album, Ace.

Gasca played on  “Black-Throated Wind”, “Mexicali Blues” and “One More Saturday Night.”

The Musician’s Life

As sadly happened to many of his generation’s fellow musicians, the lifestyle overwhelmed him and he left music until the 90s.

I stopped (playing) because I was self destructive. I was burned out,” he admitted. “That’s when I knew it was time for me to go.” He came to realize that in order to save the musician, he had to sacrifice the music.

Here he is in 2012 leading an all-star Latin Jazz Big Band – The Mambo Kings on the second night of a three-day Latin Jazz Festival.

Thank you, Luis, for everything you’ve given to our ears.

Trumpeter Luis Gasca

Donald Donny York

Donald Donny York

From the podcast Keep the Dream Flowing
Happy birthday
March 13, 1949
Donald Donny York
York patiently signing more than a few albums for a fan at an airport

There have been many many members of Sha Na Na over the years, but Donny is one of the only two originals who still remain in the group.

Donald Donny York

Social media footprint

I’ve done many little pieces about the performers at Woodstock, but Donny York is the only one I’ve found a LinkedIn page for. Under Education, he lists the following:

  • B.A., liberal arts, political science,   – 
  • Transformed the King’s Men into Sha Na Na
  • Activities and Societies: King’s Crown Activities

His Facebook page expands upon his personal information:

  • Studied Political Science at Columbia University
  • Went to Borah High School (Boise, Idaho)
  • Lives in Midlothian, Virginia (though it seems he’s back west now)
  • From Boise, Idaho
  • Married to Lily Grace
Donald Donny York


From the site “My experience of Woodstock was that, for reasons having nothing to do with a drug high, there was just a goofy feeling of magic in the air there.  A performer, but not famous and recognizable, I could wander in the crowd and witness that there was an obvious disaster underway–but nobody getting hurt!  I encountered nothing but cheerful human warmth, and individuals taking good care of each other, sharing resources.  It wasn’t socialism, no people’s committee directing anything in top-down fashion, just one-on-one caring and patience while we waited for the music to go on despite repeated delays. It amounted to a real love-in—not sexualized, just very brotherly.  And it felt like heaven.  Woodstock’s lesson for the ages was not that “socialism works” (as proclaimed in many of the free urban news weeklies back then, notwithstanding emergency services to the festival from the Nixon-era grown-ups); it was that brotherly love really does have its magical power.” [source]

Pat Boone

Donald Donny York

In addition to his years with Sha Na Na, he worked with Pat Boone on his 2006 memoir. Of that he says: “For me, getting this gig was a case of “Wait until the folks back home find out about this!” It was like the gig of a lifetime—even measured against the great gigs I’ve already stumbled into in places like Woodstock or in cinematic majesties like Grease. I appeared in them, along with other worthy young talents by the dozen. But I’m the only guy who assisted Pat Boone in the preparation of his definitive autobiographical career memoir. Back home they’ll be more impressed about my affiliation with Boone than they were about Woodstock or Grease, and they’ll probably have gotten it just about right. (Think effect on history, as opposed to reflection of it.)

IMDB: He is an actor, known for The Fall Guy (1981), Sha Na Na (1977) and Festival Express (2003).

Here’s a YouTube “video” which is simply an audio recording of Donny describing the beginning of Sha Na Na and more.

Donald Donny York

Life Is Short

And here’s a video he did in 2015. It was “A loving tribute to Sha Na Na’s SIX DEPARTED MATES.”

In the life we’re livin’ we’re all givin’ hot pursuit

To the time it takes to make it all get done

Oh the time we’re givin’ just to tryin’ to square the route

To the exit from the show we’re s’posed to run.

York says in the YouTube notes: First uploaded on the night before Denny Greene’s memorial service, this reflects the sorrow in the loss of cherished partners too soon among the angels. My thanks to Emiliano Rocky Monroe for assembling these images.and sorrowfully adding some of Lennie Baker, whose passing followed Denny Greene’s by but six months. “ShaNaNa is here to stay” he inscribes at the end. Well, we know that only by the grace of God and the cherishing of people is anything remotely “Here to stay.” So… Thanks to God, and to people like you!

Donald Donny York

Keep the Dream Flowing

On September 20, 2020, I was fortunate to be part of a podcast interview with the Woodstock-themed Keep the Dream Flowing.

Here were some of the things we learned, but go to the link of the podcast itself: