Tag Archives: Woodstock Music and Art Fair

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

August 27, 1934 – August 22, 2005

I often entitle my little bios of Woodstock performers by including the word “Woodstock” before or after their name. An SEO strategy.

In the case of Teddy Harris, the word Woodstock, however  much apropos, is far too limiting because his roots and branches are  Detroit.

As he says above, “Nobody swings as hard as Detroit.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Detroit

Theodore Edward Harris Jr. was born in Detroit on August 27, 1934.

His first music teacher was his father, jazz organist Theodore Harris Sr.

A Metrotimes article recounts his early musical milestone: as a precocious 7-year-old, [Harris] had a musical epiphany…at the Paradise Theatre. As recounted in Harris family lore, the curtains opened, the youngster jumped up on his seat, pointed at Duke Ellington on stage and pronounced, “That’s what I want to be.”

Harris himself talked about his home’s musical atmosphere: “I came up in a house full of music. I had uncles that sang; they sang like birds. They had a trio called the Cosmopolitan Trio, and they sang in churches throughout the area. My father was their accompanist. Every Saturday my father would give me a haircut, and after I would listen to the guys sing and rehearse.”

In high school, he served as student band director.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

New England

In 1955 Harris attended the New England Conservatory for a time before being drafted in 1956.  Before he left he  was part of Jackie Wilson’s first hit “Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want to Meet).”

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Germany

The military did not interfere with his musical journey. He performed as guest saxophonist with the 7th Army Symphony Orchestra and Soldier’s Show Company

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Paris

After his discharge in 1959 he studied with  Nadia Boulanger in Paris before returning to Detroit.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Back in Detroit

Harris had known Berry Gordy, Jr and when Harris returned to Detroit in 1961, he became part of Gordy’s growning  Motown enterprise. He worked with Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Woodstock

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Bassist friend Rod Hicks got Harris to join the Paul Butterfield Blues Band,  which led to Harris’s presence at Woodstock. He described flying over the site as looking at “biggest Indian pow-wow in the world.

After Paul Butterfield, Harris spent 16 years as musical director for the Supremes.

Post Woodstock

In the early 1980s Harris formed the New Breed Bebop Society Orchestra while heading a summer arts workshop for economically disadvantaged youngsters.

During the mid 1980s, Harris led the house band at Dummy George’s, and led a big band often accompanied with The Detroit Voices.

Awards

Some of the awards he received were: Outstanding Contributions (United Negro College Fund) 1986; Distinguished Recognition Medal (City of Detroit) 1990; State of Michigan Special Tribute 1992; Legends of Jazz International Hall of Fame; Michiganian of the Year 1993; Jazz Masters Award 1993; 1993 Key to the City of Detroit; Spirit of Detroit Award 1994, Governor’s Michigan Artist Award 1995.

Teddy Harris died of prostate cancer at John D Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit.

The Motown Forever site said of HarrisThere was always an elegance about Teddy Harris Jr., from the fluid caress of his piano and saxophone work, to the curlicue grace and bebop lyricism of his arrangements, to the hip presence with which he led his bands and mentored generation after generation of young jazz musicians.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr
Please follow and like us:
error0

Quill Roger North

Quill Roger North

Quill Roger North

If I asked for a show of hands if you’ve heard of the band Freak Mountain Ramblers,  my sense is I’d see few hands.

When doing tours at the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, I always ask, “Who was the opening act on Saturday?” Most Woodstock fans know that Richie Havens famously opened the festival on day one  because of his famed impromptu composition, “Freedom,” but only the most obsessive Woodstock fans (yes, my hand is raised) know the name Quill.

I was there that Saturday afternoon when Quill opened day 2 and I took a picture. I wasn’t up close so I decided to put my borrowed binoculars up to the lens of my borrowed 35 mm camera and see what happened. This is what happened:

Quill Roger North

Quill Roger North

New England roots

The band  came out of New England, fertile grounds for musicians who became well-known far beyond that area: the J. Geils Band featuring Peter Wolf, Skunk Baxter (Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Ultimate Spinach), Jim Hodder (Steely Dan), and others.

An excellent piece by Wade Lawrence, the Director & Sr. Curator at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Museum stated that “Brothers Jon and Dan Cole began performing their own songs around Boston in 1966, creating Quill in 1967 when they brought in keyboardist Phil Thayer and drummer Roger North from the band Catharsis (both classically trained musicians) and guitarist Norm Rogers from Morning Star Blues Band.”

Quill Roger North

Woodstock

Quill Roger North

Woodstock Ventures hired the band not just to play at Woodstock but to be good-will ambassadors playing music for free for the Bethel community and local “institutions” in the days leading up to the festival itself.

Unfortunately for the band, none of their 30 minutes set

  1. They Live the Life
  2. That’s How I Eat
  3. Driftin’
  4. Waitin’ for You

…make the album or movie. This shortened clip of “Waitin’ For You” shows the band’s great energy.

Such exposure could have done for them what that exact exposure did for Santana. Joe Cocker, and Sly.

Here’s their whole set (slide up to the 7.02 mark)

Cotillion Records released an album (Quill) but Jon left the band. A second album was recorded, but went unreleased.

Quill Roger North

North heads west

Following Quill’s breakup, north played with Odetta a bit and then with the Holy Modal Rounders–the west coast version.

He now lives in Portland, Oregon and currently plays in the Freak Mountain Ramblers.  A popular band that was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2018.

Quill Roger North

North Drums

Roger also designed North Drums which have a curved-shape to project the percussion toward the audience.

Quill Roger North

Though only manufactured between 1973 and the early 1980, the drums had developed a admirable following by such drummers and artists as Boz Scaggs, Alan White, Doug Clifford, Billy Cobham, Russ Kunkel, Joe English, and Gerald Brown.

Quill Roger North
Please follow and like us:
error0

Dan Jon Cole Quill

Dan Jon Cole Quill

For no reason other than chance, the last two short bios I had to do for Woodstock performers were the brothers Dan and Joe Cole of Quill. Seeing the chance to save myself an hour, I decided to put the brothers together in one entry.

Thinking about it, there were four sets of performing siblings at Woodstock: Sly, Rosie, and Freddie Stone; Tom and John Fogerty; and Johnny and Edgar Winters.

Maybe I should give Dan and Jon separate entries after all. Later.

Dan Jon Cole Quill

Northfield Mount Hermon

According to a Boston archive articleThe brothers – Jon, born in 1947, is a year and a half older – attended prep school together at Northfield Mount Hermon [Gill, MA], where they effectively took over the school band. During his junior year Jon studied abroad, where his enthusiasm for American blues and roots music brought him a bit of celebrity in southern Germany.

Dan Jon Cole Quill

Ultimate Spinach

Dan Jon Cole Quill

Like the intent of many youthful plans, the direction shifted with time. Dan had begun college at Bard, but left to become an actor. Jon began studying art at the Boston Museum School. The brothers’ love of music continued and they had the opportunity to meet music manager Ray Paret (e.g., Ultimate Spinach) who with his partner David Jenks. introduced the Coles to Phil thayer, Norm Rogers, and Roger North.

Dan Jon Cole Quill

Quill born

Dan Jon Cole Quill

The band became well-known in New England clubs and eventually began to open for “name” acts who came to New England to play. They often played at Boston’s famed rock venue, the Boston Tea Party.

Paret arranged for the band to play for Woodstock Ventures’ Michael Lang at Steve Paul’s Scene in NYC.  They had had a gig in Cincinnati and nearly didn’t make it to New York because of foul weather.  After a flight detour that included a taxi from Philadelphia to New York, the band played.

In a New England Museum of Music article, Dan Cole said of the audition: It went by in a blur, but the upshot was that Michael liked us enough to invite us to play at the festival. We thought we had done well given all of the circumstances, but our drummer Roger North later told me he saw B.B. King in the audience giving us some dour looks over our (my) performance shenanigans. Oh well, Quill was not designed around the blues, even though we played some of that, too. A sidebar to the evening was that Johnny Winter had a promo party after our set and was short some sidemen, so he asked our rhythm section — Roger, my brother Jon (bass), Norm Rogers (guitar) and Phil Thayer (keyboards) — to sit-in and jam with him. Jimi Hendrix later joined them all on stage. It was an exciting day capped by an even more exciting evening, and another step in Quill’s journey.

Lang hired the band not only to perform at the festival but also to do a short “goodwill tour” of area prisons and mental institutions just prior to Woodstock.

Dan Jon Cole Quill

Woodstock

Quill opened the second day of Woodstock. It was a sunny afternoon and after their long walks to Max’s field, the throngs were ready. My memory is that Quill was fine.  Reading about the band today suggests that they were always better in a smaller venue where the crowd could more easily get into their set.

From the Boston archive article:

After the band’s set, a relieved Dan Cole drank some champagne with Grace Slick, congratulated members of Santana on their performance, and wandered for a while in the crowd. Late that night, he jumped in one of the helicopters for the return trip to the motel.

For Jon Cole, who had twin toddlers at home, backstage at Woodstock was no picnic. …he spent a little time with the Who’s Keith Moon and John Entwistle, whom he had befriended at a joint appearance the previous year at the old Boston Music Hall.

Dan Jon Cole Quill

Quill album

Cotillion Records signed the band to an album. They used the advance money to set up their own studio, an approach that other bands found more suitable because they could record at their own pace and with no time constraints. Of course, a DIY approach to recording might not work for a band unused to sound recording. Quill wasn’t and the album did not capture the band at its best.

They did record a second album, minus Jon, but Cotillion did not release it.

Dan Jon Cole Quill

Post Quill

Jon  had decided to become a recording engineer and eventually got out of the music business. He has lived in Hawaii and become a solar-energy expert.

Dan Cole worked as a business consultant after years as an executive with Sony’s professional audio-visual products division. He lives in Portland, Ore.

Dan Jon Cole Quill

Finally

In 2009 when Rhino Records released a six-disc box set “Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur’s Farm” the first two songs of the band’s four-song set were on it.

  • They Live The Life
  • That’s How I Eat
Dan Jon Cole Quill

Dancing Cat

In June 2018, a version of the band did play at the Dancing Cat Saloon in Bethel, NY, 1.2 miles (as the crow flies) or a 1.4 mile walk from the stage they performed on in 1969.

As Wade Lawrence, director of the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts wroteThey may have only been a bar band from Boston, and the members of Quill may be ambivalent about their time together and their performance at Woodstock, but they made history on Saturday, August 16, 1969 as the first rock band to play at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Dan Jon Cole Quill
Please follow and like us:
error0