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 »

Bob Fass on the Woodstock Sound-Outs

June 22nd, 2009
Bob Fass


For more than 40 years Bob Fass has hosted Radio Unnameable on Pacifica Radio’s WBAI. Fass’s show pioneered free-form radio. He has welcomed them all—the famous as well as the lesser known. Some of the former include Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, The Fugs, and Happy and Artie Traum.

In the late sixties Fass emceed a series of music festivals on the outskirts of Woodstock, NY. As Fass writes in his foreword to Roots of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, these were known as the Sound-Outs: “Someone from USCO called it Sound-Out because it wasn’t a Be-In.” He continues,

“We invited the best musicians we knew. Stagehands built a stage. Macrobiotic, energy-transforming food was prepared and sold for pennies a bowl. Mind-expanding goulash imported from around the world was abundant. It was a potent mix of the new and the traditional. There was a whole lot of love and whole lot of creativity and community spirit . . .”

 The festivals were open-air affairs held on Pan Copeland’s farm in West Saugerties, NY. Some of the acts associated with the Sound-Outs include Ellen McIlwaine’s Fear Itself, the Colwell-Winfield Blues Band, Tim Hardin, Don McLean, Scott Fagan, Frank Wakefield, and Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys.