Earlier this year we were dismayed to learn from Liza Vittek that David Vittek, her dad, had passed away. He was just 66.
Vittek, the bassist, a guitarist and part-time drummer for Holy Moses, left us on February 25. Billy Batson, his old band mate, said recently that David was the“glue” that held the band together. He was the first one to arrive at a gig. He set up all the gear, plugged all the electrical lines in and made sure all the cables were properly taped on the stage. In addition, he made sure everyone arrived on time, and had everything they needed for their performance.
Mike Esposito, formerly of the Blues Magoos, co-produced the band’s only album, Holy Moses!! with Kim King. Esposito says that “David was a stabilizing force in an unusually unstable band.” He recalls that David had a “great sense of humor and was a wonderful human being.”
Batson noted that Vittek had a “magnificent voice, and that he sang lead on ‘There’s No Turnin’ Back.’” He also taught himself to play “old time fiddle.” Esposito said that David taught him, and the band, “ a lot about country music forms.” Batson says that the band planned to become more of a “classic country” group and incorporate David’s fiddle playing and more of his singing ability on upcoming albums. Sadly, this never happened. Soon after the release of their self-titled Holy Moses!! album the group broke apart. Vittek never recovered. Billy calls David one of “my oldest and dearest lifetime friends…a brother in mind and spirit. I love him and miss him.” David leaves behind a son, Patrick Vittek.
Billy Faier, one of the co-founders of the Woodstock Folk Festival, came to Woodstock as 14-year-old in 1945. According to Eleanor Walden, Billy was a very independent teenager. She remembers visiting his apartment in the mid-1940s in Greenwich Village and listening to folk and blues records. One time in 1946 she and Billy came up to Woodstock for the weekend. Faier loved Woodstock. When he was growing up in Brooklyn, he recalls on his website, he was patronized, ignored and abused by so-called schoolmates. Upon relocating to Woodstock he attended Kingston High School and found he was treated much the same. However, when he moved out and about in the Woodstock community he encountered a group of people who accepted him. These were the artists of the Woodstock Art Colony.
During the 1950s Faier became proficient on the five-string banjo. He recorded a series of albums, including two for the Riverside label and another on Electra. In 1959 he appeared at the Newport Folk Festival. By 1962 Billy was an accomplished and connected folk music veteran, so it makes sense that he co-founded the Woodstock Folk Festival, which occurred that year. After the festival Bernard and Mary Lou Paturel hired him as a talent booker for the Café Espresso.
Posted by Weston Blelock
Billy Batson, a rough hewn and as authentic a musician as you’re likely to encounter, arrived in 1965 Woodstock by way of California and Greenwich Village. For a time he gigged around town as a solo act. In the late sixites he played a set at The Elephant. Sitting down afterwards with his customary bottle of Jack Daniels at the ready, he watched Holy Moses play. The band, consisting of Ted Speleos on lead guitar, David Vittek on rhythm guitar, Marty David on bass/tenor sax and Christopher Parker on drums, played with panache. Billy felt they had real gas. Apparently the attraction was mutual. The others were reportedly blown away by watching Billy in action.
They decided to team up. The group at that point was living in a tent on Pan Copeland’s farm—where the Sound-Outs were staged. Billy invited his newfound brothers to join him at his home on lower Ohayo Mountain Road. Batson’s namesake in the Captain Marvel comics always used to say, “Holy Moley.” So Billy felt destiny was calling when a band showed up known as Holy Moses. Billy had a bunch of songs that needed recording, so the band set about mastering them in dates around town. Buzz grew and soon Albert Grossman came calling. The band had a verbal agreement with Albert and The Band’s Rick Danko was penciled in to produce it, but Michael Jeffery (Jimi Hendrix’s manager) caught them in action at the Joyous Lake and the band decided to work with him instead. Read the rest of this entry »