Tag Archives: Birthdays

Bassist Charlie Bilello

Bassist Charlie Bilello

Bassist Charlie Bilello
Charlie Bilello (foreground) playing w Bert Sommer and Ira Stone at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.
Bassist Charlie Bilello

Bert Sommer’s band

Here is another Woodstock Music and Art Fair performer for whom little can be found. And if you know anything, please let me know.

Charlie Bilello played bass with Bert Sommer that Friday 15 August in Bethel, NY.  Woodstock fan, blogger and autograph hound Jake Lokensky wrote that he has not been able to locate Bilello, but did seek out Ira Stone, the other musician with Sommer that day.

Bassist Charlie Bilello

Jlokensky

According to Jlokensky, Stone and his wife Max were part of a fund-raiser the day he met Ira. Their [the Stones’s] set was dedicated to the memory of Bert Sommer. Three of the four songs they played were played by Mr. Sommer as part of his ten song set. “Jennifer”, which was a song written about fellow “Hair” cast member, and future singer, Jennifer Warnes, opened the set. Max then told a story about how Tim Hardin borrowed and made of with Bert Sommer’s guitar just prior to Mr. Sommer’s set. They then played Tim Hardin’s “If I Were a Carpenter”. They played a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”, a song which allegedly earned Bert Sommer the first standing ovation of the Woodstock Festival. They concluded with another Bert Sommer original, “Smile”.

Bassist Charlie Bilello

Wade Lawrence

Wade Lawrence, the director and head curator at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts’ Museum, had similar problems finding much about Bilello: Bass player Charlie Bilello hasn’t been heard from for a number of years and is presumed to have retired from the music business or died.

I highly recommend reading Lawrence’s WoodsTALK blog which covers each of the Woodstock performers.

Bassist Charlie Bilello

According to a comment made by a “Les” at the West Virginia Surf Report site, “Charlie died in an accident in 1989.”

Bassist Charlie Bilello
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Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon

Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon

Wade Lawrence is the museum director and senior curator at The Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. He wrote in a January 2017 article about Richie Havens at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair: Richie Havens wasn’t scheduled to be the opening act of the Woodstock festival, but, in retrospect, it is hard to imagine anyone else doing it. The time for the festival to start had come and gone, all the roads leading to the festival were hopelessly congested with cars and people, and the audience was getting restless. Richie, Deano, and Daniel had been flown in by helicopter, and their setup was minimal, so festival organizers urged them to take the stage. The rest is history.

Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon has a Facebook page. It states, “I am a percussionist who has played with Richie Havens, Isaac Hayes, and Stevie Wonder.”

I assume that that is accurate. I also assume that that is very limited.

In that same article referenced above, Lawrence wrote “Daniel Ben Zebulon is still active as a musician and has played percussion with Andy Gibb, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, and the Bee Gees.”

My memories of seeing Richie Havens always included the percussionist  Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon and the guitarist Paul Deano Williams. As much a presence as Richie was, larger than life in so many ways despite his humility, Daniel and Deano were part of the fabric for any Havens concert.

 Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon
 Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon
Natoga and Paul Williams at the Woodstock site

The Allmusic site list of his credits is a long one.  In addition to the impressive names above, it also includes his working with: Juma Sultan,  The Rascals, Labelle,  The Manhattan Transfer,  Tim Hardin, and many others.

According to the guitarplayer site, Zebulon was once a part of the  Richie Havens Tad Truesdale Trio. It featuring Natoga on drums. Tad would just sing and Natoga would play these wonderful conga parts. His real name was Daniel Ben Zebulon, and he wound up playing with Richie for decades after that as well.

If you have anything you can add for this Woodstock Music and Art Fair alum Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon and so much more, please comment or email. I’d love to hear more.

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Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

“Take This Winter Out of My Mind” by Full Moon (1972)

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

September 19, 1936 –  January 11, 2002

I was one of those white suburban kids growing up in in a white suburban neighborhood that I didn’t realize was whites-only because no real estate agencies and owners would rent or sell to non-whites. Segregation northern style. Quiet but omnipresent.

We white suburban kids did not realize we were listening to our own American blues when we heard Eric Burdon sing “House of the Rising Sun” or Mick Jagger sing “You Better Move On.”

British bands like the Animals and Rolling Stones reinterpreted American blues, but bands like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band were revitalizing or simply continuing the blues tradition.

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

Gene Dinwiddie

Gene Dinwiddie, or Brother Gene Dinwiddie as he was often known, was part of that tradition.

He had already been playing in bands for 10 years when he joined Butterfield which presented him the opportunity to record. The American music scene was typically as segregated as my home town. Whether it be exclusionary tactics by record companies, recording studios, publishers, or venues, black musicians faced barriers at each entry. I certainly cannot speak for Gene Dinwiddie or any black musician, but I could understand the inclination of joining a band led by a white musician with hopes that the white musician had access that he did not.

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

He joined Paul Butterfield Blues Band in mid-1967 in time for the group’s appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival.

“Love March” became the band’s best known song because of its inclusion on the Woodstock album. It was Dinwiddie and drummer Phillip Wilson who lead on that song.

The longer Dinwiddie was in the band, the more he influenced its sound. The band ended in 1971, but a few of its members including Dinwiddie formed Full Moon.

Brother Gene Dinwiddie also played as a session musician with BB King, Melissa Manchester, Jackie Lomax, and Gregg Allman.

His most visible appearance on record in the 1990s was playing tenor sax on Etta James’ album Stickin’ to My Guns.

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie
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