Tag Archives: Performers

Donald Donny York

Donald Donny York

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 Linked In 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

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
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Maya Kulkarni Chadda

Maya Kulkarni Chadda

Maya Kulkarni Chadda

Maya Kulkarni Chadda excels in three areas: that of dancing, that of playing the tanpura, and that of being an academic.

Dancing

Maya Kulkarni Chadda

A September 19, 1966 Clive Barnes article in the New York Times wrote of Maya Kulkarni, “In acting and dancing, Miss Kulkarni was delightful. Her rhythmic sense is strong (and this is difficult to sustain with the mental monotony of recorded sound, which permits not immediate response)….

Maya Kulkarni Chadda

Woodstock

Maya Kulkarni Chadda

Three years later, Maya was a 22-year-old postgraduate student when she serendipitously became part of Ravi Shankar’s tour, replacing an ill tanpura player. She joined the Pandit Shankar and the celebrated tabla player Ustad Alla Rakha Khan.

I know little about Indian music and perhaps the tanpura (or tampura) can be a lead instrument, but  at Woodstock, it appears that Maya was simply a background musician to Shankar and Khan.

According to a 2012 article by Somya Lakhani for the Indian Express, “Woodstock was not Chadda’s introduction to Shankar or his sitar notes. As a young child, she used to be a regular at Bhulabhai Desai Institute in Mumbai, where she learnt Bharatnatyam. ‘Raviji used the institute to work on his own productions. I also worked on one, a dance-drama called Chandalika, written by Rabindranath Tagore, to which he gave music. Vyjayantimala Bali had choreographed the piece and I was her chief assistant. Raviji and I developed a strong bond of affection, and he would invite me to all his performances and to his home.”

Maya Kulkarni Chadda

Hendrix

In the same article, Chadda relates an unusual story. ““Once, we were to share a helicopter with a rock band, and I saw a man chasing a chicken around the farm while we were waiting for the helicopter. Later, during the ride, he sat in the cabin pulling hair from of his chest with studied concentration. While I sat frozen in embarrassment, Raviji kept smiling away at his antics. Later, I found out he was Jimi Hendrix,” 

Maya Kulkarni Chadda

Incredible Thread

In a 2012 liveMINT article, Chadda related how the Woodstock experience was one of a kind: ““The distinctions between artist and audience collapsed—not physically, but there was an incredible thread stretching between us,” she notes. “It’s a spontaneity that I have never encountered since then.”

Maya Kulkarni Chadda

Choices

Though her live for music and dance remained, her career choice became academia. Dr Chadda is on the staff of William Paterson University (Wayne, NJ) and according the staff site she holds an M.A. in Government from NYU and a Ph. D. From the Graduate Faculty, The New School of Social Research and is a research fellow at the Southern Asian Institute, Columbia University.

Her publications include Indo-Soviet Relations (Bombay, Vora & Co.); Paradox of Power: The United States Policy in Southwest Asia (Santa Barbara, California, Clio Press);Ethnicity Security and Separatism in South Asia ( New York, Columbia University Press/Oxford University Press) and Building Democracy in South Asia: Pakistan, Nepal and India (Lynne Rienner Publishers, March 2000). Maya Chadda has worked as a consultant to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Family Planning Agency (UNFPA).

In 1998 she was appointed as the Director of Undergraduate Research for William Paterson University responsible for setting up a grant and scholarship program and served on the review board of the United States Institute of Peace, a prestigious think tank in Washington D. C.

Chadda is a recipient of many grants, the most recent among these is the Rockefeller Residency Fellowship at Bellagio, Italy. In 1998 she was given the Excelsior award for excellence in academic achievement by the Association of Indians in America and the Network of Indian Professionals.

Maya Kulkarni Chadda

Dancing Feet

Writer Lavina Melwani was walking in New York City, she came upon the Anamika Navatman Studios and a production called Bhinna Pravaaha: Memories of a Performing Artist – Maya Kulkarni.

Melwani found the experience “a rare treat.” In a 2017 blog piece, she described the early life of Maya.

Her father, Gopalrao Kulkarni, was a writer and editor of Harijan, a newspaper published by Gandhi. Her mother, Nalini, was a political activist who also briefly served in the Indian Parliament after Independence. Her parents spent many months in jail during the freedom struggle, and were part of every satyagraha from Dandi March to the Quit India movement. Their lives were tied to Gandhi and they lived with him, and two of their sons were born in the ashram.

Melwani continued.

Ask her about the greatest joy that she has got from performing and she says, “I live for that moment when movement, music and emotions all blend to elevate the self beyond bodily existence. The dancer simply melts away and what remains is that indescribable state of being. Unfortunately not every time one dances one experiences it. But if one had, then you live for it. I have many times, but not often enough for me. To me that is nirvana.”

Maya Kulkarni Chadda
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Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Rich Joffe grew up in Maplewood, NJ and entered Columbia University in the fall of 1968. High school had not been the most enjoyable of years, he was more into folk at a time when rock had become king. Folk’s dominance had slowly faded since its early 60s-Hang-Down-Your-Head-Tom-Dooley-Kingston-Trio-Hootenanny  high point.  Many booed in 1965 when Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival . Folk-rock emerged.

Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Kingston Trio to Kingsmen

Joffe had joined Columbia University’s a cappella group, the Kingsmen. Their repertoire was limited to standard pop songs, but an opportunity to record pushed them to expand that repertoire.  They didn’t have far to look: doo wop only needed a bit of dusting off and was a music that emphasized harmonies.

A 1978 Harvard Crimson article wrote how George Leonard, the brother of Kingsmen Robert Leonard, arranged a “nostalgia” show and suggested that the group dress in a ’50s style.

Before the show, George also distributed a flyer that read: “So you think you’re an Ivy Leaguer? Bullshit. Underneath your button-down shirt is the eighth grade greaser standing on the corner, whistling ‘Duke of Earl’ to yourself and watching the girls go by. Come down to Ferris Booth Hall where the Kingsmen will be reliving the old days. Come dressed up.”

Joffe remembers: A big crowd came to hear us. We dressed up in what we thought were greasy clothes at the time–white shirts and turtlenecks. And this bunch of about 20 or 30 jocks were sitting in the corner, basically being rowdy during the first part of our show when we were singing all our usual corny stuff.

“When we did the five Oldies, these people went berserk. From then on, it was simply pandemonium.”

The group used that night’s energy to develop their act and costumes.

Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Kingsmen to Sha Na Na

Their local popularity grew, but their international fame came out of Woodstock. And their appeal crossed both sides of the political aisle. Hippies loved the nostalgia; older greasers loved the affirmations.

He remained a student and included study on Sha Na Na road trips. And while the band’s appeal may have originally crossed the aisle, they gravitated toward peace activism. On August 8, 1970 they appeared on the bill of a peace concert at Shea Stadium in New York City sharing the bill with Dionne Warwick, Al Cooper, the cast of “Hair,” Richie Havens. Poco, Ten Wheel Drive,  Paul Butterfield and Big Brother, Creedence Clearwater, Miles Davis, the Rascals, Paul Simon, and Steppenwolf.

Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Law

Rihard Rich Joffe Esq

After most of the members graduated, each faced a choice: continue as a commercial entity or leave and get (back?) on their intended career path. Most chose the latter. Joffee was one of them, but at the same time he and some others felt that as founders of the band the commercial entity “Sha Na Na” owed them money for the band’s ownership rights.

The suit was settled out of court. Joffe went to Harvard but took Woodstock with him. He And would take off semesters and go to auto mechanic’s and welding school. He worked as a delivery boy and a police reporter.

Richard Joffe is currently a class-action litigator with offices in Sacramento, New York City and Houston. His site describes the practice as “He represents  practitioners, clinics, companies and health related organizations in complex health care regulatory matters throughout the United States, especially legal cases and investigations brought by federal and state government agencies. He has extensive experience in FDA matters, including clinical trials and new drug issues, Medicare and insurance fraud, professional licensure and criminal and civil scheduled drug prescribing problems.”

Rihard Rich Joffe Esq

In 2008, Thumbs Up published his Galileo’s Lawyer book. It is “an insider’s view of the Alternative Health field based on the legal battles between medical mavericks,their patients, and the government and the church of medical orthodoxy. The book relates courtroom dramas such as the government’s fourteen year battle against the Burzynski Cancer Clinic in Houston.”

Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Endocannabinoid System

And sometimes that area of law brings him full circle to the haze over Woodstock.  He wrote in his blog“In July [2018], I tried a California medical board case for a doctor who recommended medical marijuana to five-year-old who was having severe mood disorder problems at home and school.”

It’s an interesting read and another example of the many roads that led from Woodstock.

Richard Rich Joffe Esq
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