Tag Archives: Woodstock Music and Art Fair

Singer Songwriter Melanie Ann Safka

Singer Songwriter Melanie Ann Safka

or as we all know simply her as…

Melanie

Happy birthday to you!
born February  3, 1947

Raised in the New York metropolitan area, Melanie Safka loved performing music from childhood. She eventually, as so many others had, found herself in Greenwich Village and its folk scene.

She signed with Buddah Records and in 1968 released her first album, “Born to Be.” From it, she had the hit single Bobo’s Party. It was #1 on French charts.

Singer Songwriter Melanie Ann Safka

Her name (just Melanie, of course) came to prominence after her Woodstock Music and Art Fair’s performance. The event inspired her to write  “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” because of the many lighter, matches, and candles the crowd there used during her nighttime set.

Singer Songwriter Melanie Ann Safka
“(When I heard about Woodstock) I very naively, I said “Wow. That sounds nice: three days of peace, love and music.” What I pictured was families laid out on their blankets, and it being in a big pasture, and being very laid back. Maybe some arts and crafts and maybe some pottery, and I could get some beads and stuff. That’s how I pictured it.” (from http://popcultureaddict.com/interviews/melanie/)
Singer Songwriter Melanie Ann Safka

Melanie performing “Birthday of the Sun” at Woodstock. This video was taken from a laser disk of “Woodstock: The Lost Performances”, which is now out of publication. In the closing credits, Melanie is listed as “Melanie Schekeryk” (her married name).

Singer Songwriter Melanie Ann Safka

Even though Woodstock brought her a measure of fame, Melanie never became famous outside her large circle of loving fans. In 1976 she played at the Bottom Line in New York and New York Times music critic headline said: Melanie Is a Complete Delight at Bottom Line. The lead sentence stated that:  Melanie is now 29 years old, and she’s been around since before Woodstock. She has her fans, but she is hardly a big star; for most rock enthusiasts. (NYT article)

Melanie Ann Safka

Singer Songwriter Melanie Ann Safka

Melanie continues her career as a musician. She’s released dozens of albums and compilations and singles.

Her site talks about her upcoming dates: “An Evening with Melanie is an unforgettable night of songs and stories from the incredible career of the artist who became known as “The Female Bob Dylan”.  Accompanied by her son Beau-Jarred, a talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist in his own right, the show is a musical journey from that momentous day in the summer of 1969, to the present.

Singer Songwriter Melanie Ann Safka
Melanie and her son Beau-Jarred

 

Reference >>> WoodsTALK

Singer Songwriter Melanie Ann Safka
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Graham William Nash OBE

Graham William Nash OBE

Happy birthday Graham Nash
February 2, 1942

Most of us know a bit about Graham Nash. We may not have realized he was a big part of the Hollies, but we liked them along with so many other British bands that followed the Beatle Invasion.

We may have heard that he left the Hollies just as we may have heard that David Crosby had left the Byrds and that Stephen Stills had been part of the defunct Buffalo Springfield.

And in 1969 we heard Crosby Stills and Nash.

Graham William Nash OBE
cover of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s first ablum

We know about their nervousness at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair–“Thank you. We needed that. This is the second time we’ve ever played in front of people. We’re scared shitless.”

For CSN (and later Young) Graham Nash wrote many of their best-known songs such as “Marrakesh Express,” “Our House,” “Teach Your Children, ” “Just a Song Before I Go,” and “Wasted on the Way”.

Over the years, Graham Nash and David Crosby have often worked together as a duo and like many couples have had several falling outs.  Crosby Stills and Nash have also occasionally reformed (sometimes with Neil Young as well).

In 1979, Nash co-founded Musicians United for Safe Energy [MUSE] which is against the expansion of nuclear power.

He is also a well-respected photographer. (2013 Rolling Stone article with some of his photographs)

Graham Nash was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1997 and as a member of The Hollies in 2010.

Nash performs at the 2014 Goldman Prize ceremony in San Francisco.

Graham William Nash OBE

Below is a short piece from CBS News in which  Nash spoke about the deaths of David Bowie and Glenn Frey.

Below is a long interview with Graham Nash from the Library of Congress in which he spoke about his autobiography “Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life” (2013)

Nash released his sixth solo album, This  Path Tonight, on April 15, 2016. He continues to tour and you can see those dates at his site.

Graham William Nash OBE

Graham William Nash OBE

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Richard Pierce Richie Havens

Richard Pierce Richie Havens

Remembering and appreciating
Richie Havens
January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013

Richard Pierce Richie Havens

The above recording is Richie Havens on the Voice of America. He performed the song, Freedom, while explaining the cultural significance of Woodstock and his own performance there.
Richard Pierce Richie Havens

Doo-wop

Richie Havens. Doo-wop. Gospel. Drop out. Greenwich Village. Open D tuning. Mixed Bag. Just Like a Woman. And though he didn’t write the words, no one ever say them better (Jerry Merrick’s “Follow”)

The rising smell of fresh-cut grass,

Smothered cities choke and yell with fuming gas;

I hold some grapes up to the sun

And their flavor breaks upon my tongue.

With eager tongues we taste our strife

And fill our lungs with seas of life.

Come taste and smell the waters of our time.

And close your lips, child, so softly I might kiss you,

Let your flower perfume out and let the winds caress you.

As I walk on through the garden,

I am hoping I don’t miss you

If all the things you taste ain’t what they seem,

Then don’t mind me ‘cos I ain’t nothin’ but a dream.

Richard Pierce Richie Havens

Lighthouse

Richie Havens was a lighthouse for the sixties’ rough seas. After a February meeting in 1969, Woodstock Ventures, the quartet of John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, and Michael Lang, frolicked, staggered, and romanticized its way to August 15, 1969. 500,000 cultural refugees arrived in Bethel, NY with bated breath and found a place to harmoniously exhale.

Richard Pierce Richie Havens

Woodstock

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was a tumultuously peaceful gathering, an acoustic jewel set athwart the 1960’s cultural maelstrom. The decade embroiled, alienated, and divided American families, friends, and neighbors. It was the decade of the Cold War and nuclear proliferation, murderous violence against an expanding civil rights movement, scores of race riots, thousands of casualties in an escalating Viet Nam War, draft card burnings, anti-war demonstrations, patriotic exhibitions, protest music, student radicalization, assassinations, war atrocities, the Stonewall riots, a burgeoning drug culture, a growing ecological sensibility, a generally anti-establishment attitude by many young people, and the founding of the Black Panther Party, the National Organization for Women, the American Indian Movement, and the National Farm Workers Association.

Only months away were Altamont, the Mayday Tribe’s attempt to shut down Washington DC, the invasion of Cambodia, six students shot and killed at Kent State and Jackson  State, the takeover of Alcatraz, the Weatherman bombings, 200,000 Post Office workers striking,  and the Beatle break-up were. The Grateful Dead would play 143 more shows within the year; 1,891 before Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995.

Richard Pierce Richie Havens

Keystone

Richie Havens was the accidental opening act, but became the exposition’s keystone in its arch of apprehensions, anticipations, and hallucinations. He continued to be more than one generation’s underpinning for 44 years.

After a half century of loving performances and a life dedicated to seeking peaceful solutions, Richie Havens died on April 22, 2013 at age 72.

Thank you Mr. Havens for being so much to so many. As you wrote in “Three Day Eternity”

If you could only see the thousands

Of the days I’m standing in between

All because you hold my hand so tightly

As we both walk and we laugh.


Richard Pierce Richie Havens

Bullet-points

A quick incomplete bullet-point summary of his life:

Richie Havens

  • born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on January 21, 1941.
  • joined street-corner doo-wop groups when he was about 12
  • at 14 he joined the McCrea Gospel Singers.
  • dropped out of high school.
  • in his late teens migrated to Greenwich Village, where he wandered the clubs working as a portrait artist.
  • in his early 20s he discovered folk music and he was soon playing several engagements a night at clubs like Why Not? and the Fat Black Pussycat.
  • developed an unorthodox guitar tuning so he could play chord patterns not possible with conventional tunings.
  • signed with the influential manager Albert Grossman and got a record deal with the Verve Forecast label. Verve released “Mixed Bag” in 1967, which featured “Handsome Johnny,” which he wrote with the actor Louis Gossett Jr.; “Follow,” which became one of his signature songs; and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman.”
  • In 1971, he released the only single that would put him in the Top 20, a rendition of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.”
  • In the mid-1970s he founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children’s museum on City Island in the Bronx. He later created the Natural Guard, an environmental organization for children, to use hands-on methods to teach about the environment.
  • His music had a new burst of popularity in the 1980s, and he found success as a jingle writer and performer for Amtrak, Maxwell House Coffee and the cotton industry (“The fabric of our lives”).

  • He acted in a few movies, including “Hearts of Fire” (1987), which starred Bob Dylan.

New York Times obit for Richie Havens

Richard Pierce Richie Havens
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