Tag Archives: Performers

Sweetwater Albert Moore

Sweetwater Albert Moore

Sweetwater Albert Moore

Moore Sweetwater

As noted previously, I typically do such an essay on the performer’s birthday, but Moore’s birth date, like all the members of Sweetwater, is not available. 

Albert Moore was one of the original members of Sweetwater. He was among the group that, Nancy Nevins,  the eventual Sweetwater singer, met before Sweetwater had formed. The various musicians were sitting around “The Scarab” and Nancy walked in and sang along for awhile before leaving.

When we think of a rock band, a flute is not the first instrument that comes to mind. Of course, the most famous rock flautist is likely Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, a band that did precede Sweetwater by a year. Keep in mind that by 1968 the idea of what could be rock and roll had evolved and expanded to include nearly any type of music. One of the things that separated Sweetwater from nearly every other rock band of the time, including Jethro Tull, was the absence of a guitarist.

Like most other band members who played at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, the internet does not have much content. The Sweetwater site has the following: “A former policeman, Albert, who played flute, sang, and wrote some of the songs, was quite a recognizable image and a great presence on stage. He was an energetic, happy guy who loved playing music. We had a lot of great times together. After he hung up his big Amish, Sweetwater hat, he became a schoolteacher in northern California. He died from lung cancer in 1994.” 

Sweetwater Albert Moore

So much to ask about that. A policeman? Before? After before being a school teacher? What kind of teacher? What grade level? Did he teach music? Another art? 

Fortunately, Woodstock Ventures recorded and filmed their historic event without realizing it would be historic. And though the following video isn’t the best quality, it is better than nearly any other festival recording of that summer.

Sweetwater was a great band and not just a great band of the eclectic Sixties. Fortunately for us then, organizers and the music business were willing to give bands like them the chance to perform for larger audiences and prove their wonderful worth. Also as noted imperviously, it was unfortunate that they missed the cut in both the subsequent movie and album.

Sweetwater Albert Moore

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Sweetwater August Burns

Sweetwater  August Burns

 Sweetwater August Burns

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

There were (by my count) 167 performers at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. I have tried to do a short bio on each of them on their birthday. It seemed a way of noting their day, their contribution to that grand event, and a bit about them.

As broad and wide as this not-so-newfangled inter-web thingy is, some performers seem to have disappeared. Of course, if I were a true researcher I’d switch to shoe leather (are soles even leather anymore?) and give my fingertips a break. Alas, I’m sticking to fingers.

Sweetwater  August Burns

Wade Lawrence

Fortunately, there are some with far better connections than I have. Wade Lawrence, for example. Wade is the museum director and senior curator at The Museum at Bethel Woods. Beginning in January 2017 and continuing to the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival in August 2019, he will post the story of the 32 musical acts that performed at Woodstock.

He is covering them in the order they appeared and thus Sweetwater’s August Burns was within his second piece. (Link > Wade Lawrence blog piece)

Sweetwater  August Burns

Sweetwater

Sweetwater was supposed to open the festival, but traffic issues delayed their arrival. Richie Haven’s famous opening became history. Ironically, his closing impromptu composition, Freedom, included pieces of Motherless Child, Sweetwater’s opening song to their 8-song set (though their last “song” was a medley of three songs: Why Oh Why/Let the Sunshine In/Oh Happy Day). 


Sweetwater consisted of:

  • Nancy Nevins: vocals
  • Albert Moore: flute, vocals
  • August Burns: cello
  • Alex Del Zoppo: keyboards, vocals
  • Fred Herrera: bass, vocals
  • Elpidio Cobian: congas, percussion
  • Alan Malarowitz: drums

Other than Ravi Shankar’s performance (and he of course had the sitar), Sweetwater was the only band/performer at Woodstock that did not use a guitar–acoustic nor electric.

As you can see above, August Burns was the band’s cello player. That is a sentence that is rarely written about rock bands!

Sweetwater  August Burns

Site

The Sweetwater site has this to say about Albert Moore: “An extremely unique individual, August, our well- loved cellist, had a warm smile, a mysteriously deep voice, and was interested, from an intellectual standpoint, in EVERYTHING. This very cool guy, who studied the classics at UCLA, added to our eclectic image by bringing us a touch of class. When he played his solo on “My Crystal Spider, “ during our concerts, the audience would go nuts. After Sweetwater, August went to Germany to study conducting. While there, he somehow fell out of a construction elevator, and in the hospital, contracted pneumonia and died.”

Sweetwater  August Burns
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