Woodstock Soundout @ Bearsville Theater

May 21st, 2013
Woodstock Soundout poster for May 26, 2013

Woodstock Soundout poster for May 26, 2013

On May 26, 2013, at the Bearsville Theater, Happy Traum will host Marco Benevento, Tracy Bonham, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, Jay Collins, Dave Dreiwitz Donald Fagan, Amy Helm, Connor Kennedy, Jerry Marotta, Tim Moore, A.C. Newman, Jane Scarpantoni, Jim Weider, Doug Yoel and Peter Dougan & The WDS Advance Ensemble, among others, singing songs from Bob Dylan’s catalog at the Woodstock Soundout. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert starts at 8 p.m.

The Woodstock Soundouts began in September 1967 as an outdoor folk/rock concert produced by Pan Copeland and Jocko Moffitt. Moffitt, a roofer and drummer from California, modeled them after festivals he had seen in his native state. Acts like Richie Havens, Billy Batson, Phil Ochs and Tim Hardin performed in 1967. The concerts occurred yearly until 1970. Due to mass gathering limits—on the Town of Saugerties books—of no more than 200 people allowed, the concert series became unprofitable and were discontinued. In 2008 they were resuscitated by the Woodstock Day School(WDS) as a fundraising event. The school is located across the road from the old site on lower Glasco Turnpike in West Saugerties. In 2009 Happy Traum, a Soundout Festival vet from the 1960s, co-founded the Bob Dylan birthday celebration at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild with Lu Ann Bielawa. Last year the WDS Soundout series was merged with the annual Dylan birthday celebration.

 

Dayl Wise: A Vietnam Vet’s Journey

May 9th, 2013
Dayl Wise, at left, having tea with a monk near Hue, circa 1995

Dayl Wise, at left, having tea with a monk near Hue, circa 1995

Dayl Wise, co-founder of the Post Traumatic Press, grew up in White Plains, New York. He was Christian raised, and a respecter of the Ten Commandments—especially, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” However, dyslexia made reading difficult so it was no surprise that he dropped out of college after his first semester in 1969. Shortly thereafter he was drafted and sent to Vietnam.

He says that he will never forget the wall of heat that met him upon arriving in Vietnam. “It literally took my breath away.” During his first week he was sent on practice maneuvers to a rubber plantation on the outskirts of the Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City).  Dayl found the organic smell of the place almost erotic. The lush green plant life, particularly the amazing ferns, the colorful birds, the rock apes and the high jungle canopies, lent an otherworldly dimension to his American-conditioned sensibility. Dayl’s in-country assignment began at Phuoc Vinh, a town 30 miles northwest of Saigon, at the U.S. Army fire base. The Army made him a recon leader of an eight-man squad attached to the 1st Air Cavalry Division. Many times his team walked point for an 80-man line company. Over the course of the next seven months he was sent on countless patrols throughout Vietnam—and also Cambodia.

Early one morning in late November 1970 small arms fire pinned Dayl’s team down. Immediately to his right the unit’s South Vietnamese scout was killed. Then Dayl was wounded in the left leg. He was rescued by helicopter and taken to hospital at Bien Hoa. From there he was flown to Japan and on to St. Albans, Queens. Dayl spent six months recuperating in the hospital. It took several surgeries of bone grafts and the insertion of a metal plate before he could be sent home in a wheel chair.

The Vietnam experience pushed Dayl towards the anti-war movement. As soon as he was ambulatory he threw out his uniform and his medals. Oddly, his service-to-country helped him overcome his former learning challenge. During stretches of prolonged boredom he turned to reading anything he could get his hands on, and gradually he overcame his dyslexia. This stood him in good stead when he returned to college, and he received a degree in engineering. He worked as a consulting engineer until the early 1990s. Around this time he was watching a CNN report on the first Gulf War and he suffered a flashback. In the news report he saw a helicopter being deployed and suddenly the memory of the sweet acrid smell of aviation fuel came flooding back. He visited a veteran’s hospital to see a psychiatrist. His healing took a unique turn when he was offered the chance to deliver hospital supplies to Vietnam. It was after this visit that Vietnam changed for him from being a war zone, to a country and a people. Read the rest of this entry »

Jerry Jeff Walker: Woodstock Bound?

February 5th, 2013
Jerry Jeff Walker

Jerry Jeff Walker in the late 1990s

I’ve been a Jerry Jeff Walker fan for since forever. Recently I heard about the Guy Clark tribute album, This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark and bought it when I heard that Jerry Jeff was on it. It’s good thing I did. The two-CD album is a standout.

According to the liner notes the “artists brought two key instruments: a guitar and profound reverence” to the recording studio. And what a cast: they range from Lyle Lovett to Willie Nelson and from Steve Earle to Ramblin’ Jack Elliott with a whole lot of recording stars in between. There are 30 stellar cuts in all, but the best tune hands down is “My Favorite Picture of You” sung by Jerry Jeff Walker.

It is well known that Jerry Jeff was raised in Oneonta, NY. He broke free of his small-town upbringing and lit out for New Orleans. By 1967 he landed back in NYC’s Greenwich Village. “Mr. Bojangles,” his best song, was already in his play book. One night while on Bob Fass’s “Radio Unnameable” he played the song live. Bob was taping the show as Walker performed. Jerry Jeff writes in his autobiography, Gypsy Songman, that after a few seconds of silent air time Bob Fass said: “That’s a beautiful song. You wrote that?” Read the rest of this entry »

Clarence Schmidt’s “House of Mirrors”

January 19th, 2013
House of Mirrors

Clarence Schmidt’s “House of Mirrors”

To some, Clarence Schmidt (1897-1978) was an endearing Santa Claus-sized man, and to others he was the grandfather of pop art. Whatever your position, no one can deny his outrageous take on life in the 1960s. His colossal “House of Mirrors” (HOM) ranged up a hillside atop Ohayo Mountain. It consisted of seven stories of tiered window frames and balconies with runways and gardens. Parts of it incorporated found objects from area landfills like car bumpers, wheels, bicycles, lawnmowers, guitars, saw blades, Rheingold (his favorite) beer cans and doll parts. The latter were thoughtfully donated by Kevin Sweeney of Simulaids. All these bits and pieces of our waste-driven society were artfully placed and curated by Schmidt into a pleasing shrine called home.

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