Tag Archives: Music et al

NYC Cerebrum Club

NYC Cerebrum Club

NYC Cerebrum Club

NYC Cerebrum Club

Connecting the dots

I was watching a 2016 interview that Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Museum Curator Wade Lawrence had done with Dale Saltzman and Peter Brown, the two men who had helped create the Bindy Bazaar merchandise area at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair as well as other cloth banners and the yellow cloth coverings over the Food for Love booths.

During the interview, Peter Brown mentioned a New York City venue called The Cerebrum.  Brown’s memory of the club was a bit sketchy (“it was some sort of touchy-feely kind of thing in the…in the village maybe…”), but the reference piqued my interest and here we are.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Ruffin Cooper

Ruffin Cooper had helped begin the Cerebrum. PBS’s NYC channel Thirteen had this to say about Cooper: Ruffin Cooper…was a conceptual artist and photographer who came of age in the wildly exciting and tumultuous 1960s. Some unique experiences he had during his life included going to Woodstock in 1969 and living for a time at a New Mexico commune. Later he established himself as an artist in San Francisco, crossing paths with such cultural icons as Dennis Hopper, Allen Ginsburg and Andy Warhol.

It was he along with Richard Currie, Bobjack Callejo, and John Brown that came up with the club’s concept.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Others

In the book Ridiculous!: The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam by David Kaufman, Currie explained that the premise was simply a loft party. “...we’d come in with tambourines and projection equipment and weather balloons. We’d project images, take care of the music, and give them [guests] participatory instruments to play.

A November 28, 1968 New York Times article by Dan Sullivan described it: A new club called Cerebrum shows you not only what it is, but what in five or ten years it may become: a prospect not altogether reassuring.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Mysterious entry

Cerebrum was located at 428 Broome Street. There was no Cerebrum signage. There was an illuminated bell. You pushed it. A opening in the door slid open. A voice asked your name. Did you have a reservation?

The initial entry was into the Orientation Room. You removed your shoes. you paid the fee–$2 on Tuesdays, $3 on on Wednesdays, and $4 on Thursdays.  A white-robed guide, wearing only a white robe,  handed a white robe to you. Some followed his example. Others chose not to, but all followed him into the main space.

A ramp let into an elongated all-white room and a white-carpeted runway in the center. Off of the runway were seven floating platforms. Each platform could hold about 6 people.

Each platform had its own collection of sensory items, or headsets to listen with, or tambourines to play with.

The Cerebrum opened in the fall of 1968 and closed the following spring. Here is a video posted by Bart Friedman, one of the guides, about the club. He describes it as “a nightly laboratory for mind bending excursions into film, sound, slides, mist, music, strobes and eroticism. ” 

NYC Cerebrum Club

Short-lived

Ruffin Cooper attended the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. In fact, he went on to become a member of the Hog Farm.

He became a well known San Francisco based photographer of architectural subjects printed in mammoth scale. His show, Creating an Illusion: huge, consecutive photo details compositing the face of the Statue of Liberty, printed on fabric, spanned the length of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC in 1985.

Here is a video about that project.

He died in 1992.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Fillmore East

By the way, the same day that the NY Times had its article on Cerebrum, there was this advertisement next to the article:

So many choices!

NYC Cerebrum Club
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Woodstock Performers First Album

Woodstock Performers First Album

Though many of those who performed at Woodstock were famous already [at least to their fans they were], in terms of having a recording contract and releasing an album, most of them had been in the music business (as opposed to performing) for a short time. If fact for a few, their first album release came after the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Listed below are all those who performed at the festival in the order that their first album was released. I’ve also included the age of band members (if available) at the time of the album’s release.

There were 32 music performances at Woodstock, but Country Joe performed twice: once solo and once with the Fish. I have counted him as one and with the Fish, so I’ve listed 31 albums below.

To the point of “being in the business,” the large majority–25–of the bands had released their first albums from 1967 and after. Or, only 6 had released an album before 1967.

And three in that majority released an album after 1969.

Woodstock Performers First Album

Ravi Shankar

Woodstock Performers First Album

Ravi Shankar released his first album, Music Of India – Three Classical Ragas On Sitar, in 1956. He was 36.

Woodstock Performers First Album

Joan Baez

Woodstock Performers First Album

October 1960: Joan Baez (age 19) released her first album, Joan Baez.

Woodstock Performers First Album

1965

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

October, 1965: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band album released. Paul Butterfield was 22. No other personnel for the album performed at Woodstock.

The Who

Woodstock Performers First Album

December 3, 1965: The Who [Pete Townshend, 20; Keith Moon, 19; Roger Daltrey, 21; and John Entwistle, 21] released My Generation album.

Woodstock Performers First Album

1966

Incredible String Band

Woodstock Performers First Album

June, 1966: Incredible String Band (Robin Williamson, age 22 , and Mike Heron, age 22 ) released first album, The Incredible String Band.

Tim Harden

Woodstock Performers First Album

July 1966: Tim Hardin (age 25) released first album, Tim Hardin 1

Jefferson Airplane 

Woodstock Performers First Album

August 15, 1966: Jefferson Airplane released their debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The personnel differs from the later “classic” lineup and the music is more folk-rock than the harder psychedelic sound for which the band later became famous. Signe Toly Anderson was the female vocalist and Skip Spence played drums. Both left the group shortly after the album’s release and were replaced by Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden, respectively. (Jorma Kaukonen (age 25), Paul Kantner (age 25), Jack Casady (age 22), Marty Balin (age 24), Grace Slick (age 26), Spencer Dryden (age 28).

Richie Havens

Woodstock Performers First Album

Late 1966: Richie Havens (25) released his first album: Mixed Bag

Woodstock Performers First Album

1967

Grateful Dead

March 17, 1967: the Grateful Dead released their first album: Grateful Dead. Jerry Garica (25), Bob Weir (19),  Pigpen (21), Phil Lesh (27), and Bill Kreutzmann (21).

Country Joe and the Fish

April 1967: Country Joe (25) and the Fish released first album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body.

Jimi Hendrix Experience

May 12, 1967: the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, released in the UK. Jimi Hendrix (24), Mitch Mitchell, (19), and Noel Redding (21) .

Canned Heat

July 1967: Canned Heat released first album, Canned Heat. The three members who played Woodstock were Bob “The Bear” Hite, age 24, Alan Wilson, age 24, and Larry Taylor,  age 24)

Big Brother and the Holding Company

August 1967: Big Brother and the Holding Company released first album with Janis Joplin (23).  The other band members, none of whom played at Woodstock, were: Sam Andrew, James Gurley, Peter Albin, and Dave Getz.

Arlo Guthrie

September 1967: Arlo Guthrie (20) released first album, Alice’s Restaurant.

Sly and the Family Stone

October 1967: Sly and the Family Stone released first album, A Whole New Thing. Sly Stone (25), Freddie Stone (20),  Larry Graham (19), Cynthia Robinson (21), Jerry Martini (25), and Greg Errico (19).

Ten Years After

October 27, 1967: Ten Years After released its first album, Ten Years After. Alvin Lee (22), Chick Churchill (21), Leo Lyons (23), and Ric Lee (22).

Johnny Winter

Woodstock Performers First Album

1968: Johnny Winter (age 22) released first album, The Progressive Blues Experiment with John Turner (24) and Tommy Shannon (22).

Woodstock Performers First Album

1968

Blood, Sweat, & Tears

February 21, 1968: Blood, Sweat, & Tears released its first album, Child is Father to the Man. The album personnel who also played at Woodstock were: Bobby Colomby (23), Jim Fielder (20), Dick Halligan (24), Steve Katz (22), and Fred Lipsius (24).

The Band

July 1, 1968: The Band released its first album, Music From Big Pink. Rick Danko, age 26; Robbie Robertson, age 25; Levon Helm, age 28; Richard Manuel, age 25; Garth Hudson, age 31.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Woodstock Performers First Album

July 5, 1968: Creedence Clearwater Revival released first album, Creedence Clearwater Revival. John Fogerty (23), Doug Clifford (23), Stu Cook 23), and Tom Fogerty (26)

Melanie

November 1968: Melanie (age 21) released her first album, Born to Be.

Sweetwater

1968: Sweetwater released its first album entitled Sweetwater. Birth dates for the band members are not available. They were: Nansi Nevins, Frank Herrera, August Burns, Elpidio Cobian, Alan Malarowitz, Albert Moore, and Alex Del Zoppo.

Bert Sommer

Woodstock Performers First Album

1968: Bert Sommer (age 18) released his first album, The Road to Travel. It was produced by Artie Kornfeld. Sommer was a schoolmate of Leslie West. None of the several other musicians on the album played at Woodstock.

Woodstock Performers First Album

1969

Keef Hartley Band

1969: the Keef Hartley Band (Keef Hartley age 25 whose career began as the replacement for Ringo Starr as drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes) released its first album, Halfbreed. The other album personnel who also played at Woodstock were: Miller Anderson (24), Gary Thain (21), and Henry Lowther (27).

Joe Cocker

April 23, 1969: Joe Cocker (age 24) released first album, With a Little Help from My Friends. The only other album personnel who also played at Woodstock were: Henry McCullough (25) and Chris Stainton (25).

Crosby, Stills, & Nash

Woodstock Performers First Album

May 29, 1969: Crosby, Stills, & Nash released first album.  (David Crosby age 28; Stephen Stills age 24; Graham Nash, age 27)

Santana

Woodstock Performers First Album

August 30, 1969: Santana  released its first album, Santana. Carlos Santana (22), Gregg Rolie (22), David Brown (22), Michael Shrieve (20), Michael Carabello (21), and José “Chepito” Areas (23).

Sha Na Na

1969: Sha Na Na released its first album, Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay! Since it was released after Woodstock, I will give the personnel who performed at Woodstock (most birth dates are unknown): Alan Cooper (?), Bruce Clark (?), Dave Garrett (?), Donny York (?), Elliot Cahn (?),  Jocko Marcellino (29?),  Joe Witkin (?), Richard Joffe (?), Rob Leonard (?),  Scott Powell (21), Dennis Greene (20),  and Henry Gross (18).

Woodstock Performers First Album

1970

Quill

January 1970: the band Quill released album: Quill. The personnel: Dan Cole (?), Jon Cole (?), Norman Rogers (?), Phil Thayer (?), and Roger North (?).

John Sebastian

January 19, 1970: John Sebastian (25) released his first solo album, John B Sebastian. He had, of course, had great success with the band Lovin’ Spoonful. Sebastian was 21 when that band released the ablum, Do You Believe In Magic.

Mountain

Woodstock Performers First Album

March 7, 1970: Mountain released its first album, Climbing! [also known as Mountain Climbing!] The album personnel who had played at Woodstock were: Leslie West (24),  Felix Pappalardi (30),  and Steve Knight (34).

Woodstock Performers First Album
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Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Walker’s “Improv in A-minor” live in the Bronson Caves Griffith Park, LA

When my son recommended that I listen to Karen Dalton, I didn’t realize how much I’d like her and (again) be disappointed with myself that I hadn’t known of her already.

As often happens, the “discovery” of one thing leads to another and Dalton led to Peter Walker, someone who was also part of the folk revival of the early 1960s.

With Peter Walker the wonderful thing is, beside his own peripatetic story, is how many other well-known 60s musicians he crossed paths with.

This little blog post isn’t meant to be a biography, but merely an overview. I have included several links in this piece if you’re interested in more.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Boston > San Francisco

Walker was born in Boston in 1938 into a musical family. His father played folk guitar, his mother was a classical pianist. He didn’t play guitar in public until 1959, when he traveled to San Francisco.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Intersections

Here is an example of one of those musical intersections. In San Francisco, he taught some guitar to Jim Gurley who later became guitarist with Big Brother and the Holding Company.

And it was there that Walker first heard Ravi Shankar play and became fascinated with raga.

Walker later he studied with Ravi Shankar (alongside George Harrison and Donovan–more intersections) and with sarad virtuoso Ali Akbar Khah.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Flamenco

A musician with his ears open to all sounds, Walker “discovered” flamenco. He traveled to Spain to learn. He found that the Indian raga and the flamenco had similarities.

In a Jennifer Kelly interview for the Dusted Features site, Walker said,  In both raga and flamenco, the music creates an effect. If you play a predetermined series of notes, it will have a predetermined effect. So it was the process of creating that effect that fascinated me,” he says. “You get a drone, you get a wall of sound going, and then you play melodies into it, which are entertaining or rhythmically changing.

Islam’s influence in both places also connects the styles.  Muslim conquerors in Delhi sent musician captives back to their outposts in Granada.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Timothy Leary

Another intersection was Timothy Leary.  In 1965, Timothy Leary felt that Walker’s music would dovetail nicely with the LSD experience and Walker became the music director at a the estate Leary rented in Millbrook, NY.

The site was 2,500 acres and included a 64-room Bavarian baroque mansion and gatehouse that wealthy William “Billy” Mellon Hitchcock (benefiting from a trust fund that in 1963 was giving him $15,000 a week) had bought for $500,000

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Rainy Day Raga

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Vanguard released Walker’s first album, Rainy Day Raga, in 1966.

Matthew Greenwald’s AllMusic review states, “Exploring a tonal range that would be best described as the perfect L.S.D. soundtrack, this album is a gentle, evocative affair, and often recalls some of the passages that Stephen Stills would use for “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” among others. Aided by Dylan session veteran Bruce Langhorn on percussion (and by others as well), this is a fine document of a space in time when ragas were just becoming popular in Western music. In a certain way, Walker was a visionary, and this album shows it.”

Second Poem to Karmela or Gypsies Are Important album came out in 1968.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Bureau of Narcotics

As is too often the case, activists come under the undercover scrutiny of. In the aftermath of the Robert Kennedy assassination, Walker had volunteered to be the caretaker of the White House photo collection that that Jacques Lowe had done for the Kennedy family. At the same time, Walker was involved in the “Americans for Biafra Relief” committee formed by Ted Kennedy.

At one point, an overly ambitious agent looking to score some points planted drugs in the loft. Luckily, Walker found them (and flushed them) before anyone else did and Walker’s friendly connections vouched for his integrity when the planted accused Walker of the drug stash anyway.

Peter Walker graciously offered the following amendment to the above:

This article was incorrect in one area. It was not the FBI that planted the drugs (an ounce of Heroin). It was a high ranking agent of the “Bureau of “Narcotics” which was the DEA of that era. I was rescued by high ranking agents of the Justice Department who were friends with the Kennedy’s, and who apologized to me on behalf of the Federal Government. True good guys! Only interaction with the FBI was: Unknown to me they had photographed me at an un-American Activities Committee protest in San Francisco in 1958. and, unknown to me, had labeled me a communist. Untrue. Then, after the assassination of JFK, two FBI agents went to The Director of Nursing of the State of Ohio and tried to get my wife’s licence as a RN revoked, (for being married to me). They were unsuccessful. There was and still are different political and law enforcement agendas with different agencies. I went on in life to receive three medals from three Presidents.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

William Kunstler

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

In 1970, Walker was living (insert briefly again) in Detroit where he lived at the Garwood Mansion. He met radical lawyer William Kunstler who was in town to speak about in injustices of the American justice system, particularly as it related to the then-recently imprisoned John Sinclair who had been given a 10-year sentence for giving an undercover agent 2 joints.  (At the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Abbie Hoffman had famously bolted on stage during the Who’s set in an attempt to rouse the crowd to Sinclair’s cause.)

In 2013, Delmore Recording Society released Has Anybody Seen Our Freedoms?, a album Walker had recorded in 1969, but “lost” for decades. Kunstler and Walker appear together on the album cover in a picture taken at Garwood Mansion.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Family

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Getting out of the counter-cultural limelight, Walker moved to Woodstock, NY. He married and began to raise a family. He left the traveling performance scene behind, only playing locally, particularly Ron Merians’s the Joyous Lake.

A “few” others played at the Joyous Lake as well…

Walker did not leave the learning scene, particularly the flamenco.

Jennifer Kelly again quoted Walker: So much of music is an expression of feeling. You tell a story with the music but you really, unless it’s an empty character study, it’s more about your feelings. Some guy in Mexico told me, ‘You make me feel the way you do when you play.’ Well, that’s part of the magic of it. That’s what makes it so worthy of pursuit, to be able to do that.

And traveling didn’t end. He designed campers for pick up trucks and with one drove through out the country and often into Mexico.

Using those same mechanical skills, at another point, he lived in Aspen, Colorado in charge of a taxi fleet.

When his children were school age, he moved to NYC. He also went to school and earned a paralegal certificate.

He went to Spain to continue to improve his guitar skills.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

2008

Fortunately for Walker, he was still alive forty years after his second album and Tompkins Square Records released his third album, Echo of My Soul. So many other “unknown” master guitarists like John Fahey and Robbie Basho had died.

Pat Sullivan’s AllMusic review said that the album “… represents a break with the eastern influences of Walker’s ‘60’s output and heralds his latest obsession with flamenco. With the same dedication he brought to earlier collaborations with Ravi Shankar, the New Yorker has immersed himself in the Spanish guitar idiom and has come to be accepted by its vanguard musicians. This new-found mastery resonates throughout ECHOES OF MY SOUL, a beautifully played opus perfect for any fan of flamenco or avant acoustic music.”

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Karen Dalton/2015

As I mentioned at the top of this entry, it was Karen Dalton’s story that led me to Peter Walker. They had met in Greenwich Village. Dalton’s story is a sad one.  One that ended with her dying of AIDS, but being cared for by Peter Walker at his Woodstock, NY home in  1993.

Dalton gave Walker intellectual property rights, among which was Dalton’s books of lyrics, which was also stuffed with illustrations. It took a long time before her writings found voices, but in 2015 Tompkins Square Records released Remembering Mountains. On it several songwriters put Dalton’s haunting words to music.

Walker wrote the liner notes.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Catastrophe

On October 22, 2018 fire destroyed Walker’s home, the Ark. Despite trying to rescue his dog (and nearly dying in the attempt), the dog died. The fire destroyed all his belongings including guitars and memorabilia.

Investigators determined an overturned candle caused the fire.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist Walker.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

#5

In 2020 MOJO magazine named Walker #4 of the “Top Primitive Guitarists of all time” Some felt he should have been #1, but he responded, “Everybody has their own perspective on reality, I would have put my self third after John Fahey, and Sandy Bull based on sequential timeline. At the time in 1964 when I first became a professional player these were the only other US solo guitarists that I knew or had heard of.”

Unknown Legend Peter Walker
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