Tag Archives: Performers

Robert Leonard Singing Linguist

Robert Leonard Singing Linguist

 

Chances are you won’t need the services of Robert Leonard Associates. It “consults with law firms, government and law enforcement agencies, and individuals in situations where language analysis may be helpful. We research, analyze, consult, write reports and testify in both civil and criminal cases.

See what I mean?

Robert Leonard Singing Linguist

Woodstock

Of course I’m not doing this piece on Dr Leonard because I somehow found myself in such dire straights. The situation I found myself in was Bethel, New York in August 1969. I was there for Woodstock’s  22 hour Saturday show and only the Joe Cocker opening on Sunday.

After Joe was the downpour and a few hundred thousand of us gradually left and went home.  That’s why we few hundred thousand were not around for Jimi Hendrix on Monday morning. Likely he was one of the performers, if not THE performer we had looked forward to seeing, but Mother Nature and Father Time threw some mud on that plan

Robert Leonard Singing Linguist

Sha Na Na

That meant we also missed Sha Na Na. Perhaps we’d heard of them, but likely not. We probably had heard their songs. We were familiar with our older siblings’ doo-wop musical tastes: the Diamonds, the Silhouettes,  Danny and the Juniors, the Monotones, and others.

Sha Na Na? Sha Na Na was a doo wop line form the Silhouettes “Get a Job.” And it turned out to be the name of a dozen guys from Columbia University who were in the right place  at the right time and got an invite to the most famous music festival of all time.

Robert Leonard was one of those Columbia students. They were part of the school’s a capella group who had some fun doing doo wop. That fun became a one-off. That one-off became some gigs and the famed Steve Paul‘s Scene.

The right people were hanging out there to attract others. Others like two guys who were putting on a music festival in that same Bethel, NY.

Robert Leonard Singing Linguist

Fifties Invented

Elizabeth E. Guffey, a Stanford Ph.D. and associate professor at SUNY Purchase, published Retro: The Culture of Revival. In that book Guffy wrote, ““On the fourth day of the Woodstock Festival of 1969, just before Jimi Hendrix’s celebrated finale, the stage was held by a group of unknown undergraduates from Columbia University … The rock-’n’-roll revivalist group Sha Na Na bombarded the audience with tightly choreographed 1950s classics like ‘Teen Angel’ and ‘At the Hop.’ The festival’s unlikely scene stealers sported dated looks, including greased ducktails, white socks and cigarettes rolled into T-shirt sleeves. Sha Na Na’s impossibly upbeat and exuberant version of the 1950s seemed the opposite of the arty psychedelica and hard rock that characterized Woodstock.”

Though not in the band itself, Robert Leonard’s brother George was integral in its genesis.  Guffey relates how George described himself as a ‘22-year-old Susan Sontag buff…(with) a vision of a group that would sing only ’50s rock and perform dances like the Busby Berkeley films that he ‘learned to love in college readings on Camp’ ”

The source of the quotes above is from a 2008 Columbia College Today article by brothers George and Robert. In it they discuss how Sha Na Na invented the “Fifties” as we think of them today. It is an interesting read, but beyond the scope of this piece.

Robert Leonard Singing Linguist

Higher Education

Robert Leonard Singing Linguist
slide from a 2016 presentation

As bright as a spot as Woodstock would be on anyone’s resume, like most of his  fellow band mates, Sha Na Na was never planned to be a career. Only two of the Woodstock dozen are in the latest Sha Na Na line-up: Donny York and John Marcellino.

Leonard left the band in 1970 for a Fulbright Fellowship (that he did at the University of Nairobi, Kenya) and earned his PhD at Columbia.

Today he is the Professor of Linguistics, Director of the Graduate Program in Forensic Linguistics, and Director of the Institute for Forensic Linguistics, Threat Assessment and Strategic Analysis at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

Robert Leonard Singing Linguist

Amazing list

Hofstra’s site on Leonard has an astounding list. He has:

  •  been qualified as a Forensic Expert Witness in Linguistics and Language in a number of state and Federal courts. As a forensic linguist, Leonard has provided expert opinions to clients that include Apple, Inc., the Prime Minister of Canada, the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, and the U.S. Department of Justice, in cases dealing with a wide range of forensic linguistic issues.
  • trained British law enforcement agencies
  • linguistically traced bomb-threat voice calls to the Nassau County, New York courthouse.
  • authored and co-authored both technical and popular articles in the field of linguistics and has lectured worldwide on linguistics—on theoretical advances in linguistic theory and the application of the science of linguistics to investigative law enforcement and counter-terrorism techniques.

And here’s a 2012 New Yorker article on a murder that Leonard was an integral witness for the prosecution.

Well done, Dr Leonard.

As he says at the beginning of this conference, “I am one of the very few people in the world who has worked with both the FBI and the Grateful Dead.

Robert Leonard Singing Linguist
Please follow and like us:
0

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence played with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band at Woodstock and I’ve tried to do a little piece on each of the performers at that famed festival.

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence
Paul-Butterfield, Gene Dinwiddie, Trevor Lawrence, & Steve-Madio

I try not to be too lazy about gathering some biographical information about each performer, but I could not do a better description of Trevor Lawrence than what appears at his Facebook page, so that is exactly where I’ve selected the following. Be ready to be impressed!

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence

Some list!

The Sax-Man for, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, The Butterfield Blues Band at Woodstock, B. B. King, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Fats Domino, Harry Nilsson, The Pointer Sisters, Carly Simon, Martha Reeves, Etta James, John Mayall, Ace, Goldie Zelkowitz, Roberta Flack, Bonnie Raitt, Leo Sayer, Country Joe McDonald, Mongo Santamaria, King Curtis, Syreeta Wright, Chuck Rainey, Jackie Lomax, Howard Tate, Lightnin’ Rod, The Rocky Horror Show, Andrew Gold, Melissa Manchester, Van McCoy, and many more. . .

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence

Roots

Trevor Lawrence started playing the Saxophone when he was 11 years old. He was exposed to Music Theory and Harmony, when he was about 13 years old, by his next door neighbor Sol Moore. Moore, who happened to be an accomplished Music Arranger and Baritone Sax. player with the “Les Hite Band”, and Graduate of the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, used by George Gershwin, became his music Mentor. This mentoring intrigued and inspired him, as he continued taking Music Lessons privately, and playing in the School Band, while attending public school in Brooklyn, New York. 

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence

Arranger/Composer

Trevor’s musical accomplishments continued to grow as he developed his skills as an Arranger / Composer for records and later television, and movies. After moving to Los Angeles, CA., he expanded his musical involvement to Record Producing and Songwriting. On the cutting-edge of developing and writing songs with artists, Trevor created such hits as, “I’m So Excited”, “Could I Be Dreaming”, with the Pointer Sisters and “All the Way Down” for Etta James. The theme song for the popular Jackie Gleason and Richard Pryor Film, “The Toy”, “I Just Wanna Be Your Friend” sung by the great Jeffery Osborne. Trevor was also The Composer and the Music Supervisor for the Sidney Poitier film “To Sir With Love II”, and has Produced and Directed the TV shows “Live From The Club” on BETJAZZ and “B In Tune TV” distributed by Viacom. 

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence

Films

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrnce


Trevor Lawrence is known for songs in the Hit Films, Transformers, Working Girl, Happy Go Lucky, Summer Lovers, Working Trash and Vacation, to name a few.

Combining his musical talent, experience and knowledge, Trevor continues to move into the entertainment world of today by applying his talents to Playing the Saxophone, Producing Records, Developing Television Shows, Movies, and creating CG for the Visual Interpretations seen in Modern Media .

Trevor enjoys an artistry that generates a lifetime of musical vision and innovation.

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence

Credit list

And if that’s not impressive enough and you still have time, check out his AllMusic credit list.

Here is a video of a great conversation that Trevor Lawrence explains his love of music and how hard it is to learn to play with someone, not just by yourself.

Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence
Please follow and like us:
0

Quill Phil Thayer

Quill Phil Thayer

Quill Phil Thayer
Promo photo of Quill’s appearance on The Dave Garroway Show, two months before Woodstock. Left to right: Jon Cole, Roger North, Dave Garroway, Norman Rogers, Phil Thayer, and Dan Cole.

Phil Thayer played both keyboard and sax for the band Quill, the band that opened day 2–August 16, 1969–of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Since day 2 was the first day of rock music that weekend, Quill lays claim to the first rock act at Woodstock.

Unfortunately, that gold coin is only a Woodstock footnote. As as unfortunately,  so is Phil Thayer.

Quill Phil Thayer

Life-changing?

Of the “million” people around Bethel that weekend, my guess is that the event did not drastically change their lives. Yes, they could forever claim the first-hand experience of an historic event, but an historic event only to those who wanted to listen.

Put in perspective, we were not in Gettysburg in July 1863; on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. Such horribly historic events changed the lives of all Americans whether they wanted them changed or not. Woodstock was a great wet weekend of music, but did not change the lives of all Americans.

As I’ve found when doing the other short bios for Woodstock’s performers, while many did continue in music, there were those who had never intended that music would be their lifetime path or those for whom life pushed them off the musical path.

Perhaps there were some for whom it was what it was and life went on. 1979, 1994, and 2019 are just years, not anniversaries.

Quill Phil Thayer

Boston-based

Quill Phil Thayer

Quill came out of Boston.  Brothers Jon and Dan Cole were the founders of the band. Their management, Ray Paret and his partner, David Jenks, “introduced the Coles to three musicians …keyboardist Phil Thayer, guitarist Norm Rogers, and prodigious drummer Roger North. Recognition came quickly. By the summer of 1967, the band was gigging steadily.” [Boston.com article]

The band’s reputation grew with their own gigs and as they opened for bigger and bigger acts like The Jeff Beck Group, The Who, The Kinks, Janis Joplin, Velvet Underground.

Quill Phil Thayer

A December 1968 Scene magazine article stated that “It is not almost time for Quill. they deserve to succeed not only here but in every mind and acre in the country. Their success will go a long way forward dispelling the cynical distrust so many show toward the “system” inherent in the music business, because Quill is a group founded on honest musical expression instead of plastic promotional vagaries.”

The same piece applauded Norm Rogers (the band’s guitarist) and Thayer for their contribution “to the most amazing simulation of electronic music in Quill’s live performances.”

Quill Phil Thayer

Woodstock

Fate did seem to smile upon Quill when they received an invite to Woodstock.

They got to rub their elbows (and other joints I suppose) with the bigger names that weekend as well as names like Carlos Santana whose Woodstock bump would be bigger than any other band.

“Festival organizer Michael Lang remembers Quill as a “soft-rock’’ band, chosen for the goodwill tour because they played “rather benign rock and roll.’’  [ibid]

Quill Phil Thayer

1.1 albums

Quill Phil Thayer

Quill did not make the movie. Quill did not make the album despite the fact that Cotillion Records, the company that released the famous 3-disc set, had also signed Quill and released their album in 1970.

Less than rave reviews led to Jon’s departure and although the band recorded a second album, Cotillion did not release it.

According to a WoodsTALK blog entry by Bethel Woods Museum director Wade Lawrence, Phil Thayer dropped out of sight after Quill broke up and is presumed to be living in Florida.

Having said that, it seems that Phil may have played saxophone with the Allman Brothers at a Swathmore, PA concert on May 2, 1970 suggesting he continued at least for a time.

And there is a Facebook page for a Phil Thayer who lives in Casselberry, Florida. Of his friends, there is an Amanda Cole listed who is the daughter of Jon Cole (or Dan?).

Quill Phil Thayer

Together

AND…back in late May 2018, some of the Quill band got together for the first time in 49 years at the Dancing Cat Saloon, nearby the original Woodstock festival site. Among them was Phil Thayer. I think he is the middle person with one of the Cole brothers on the left and Roger North on the right.

Quill Phil Thayer

Quill Phil Thayer
Please follow and like us:
0