Candy-O Revisited

February 22nd, 2018

Jean and Jim Young owned The Juggler during the late 1960s in Woodstock, NY. It was an avant-garde bookstore that sold guitar strings and had a magazine rack featuring copies of Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines. In 2008 Jean participated in a panel discussion titled “Roots of the 1969 Woodstock Festival.” She recalled those days fondly: “And then of course the hippies came in . . . new thinking, anti-war sentiment . . . and then of course Michael Lang along with it. And I must say, when he came in to town and we were in our bookstore and he was looking for some place to rent for land . . . none of the real estate people in town took him very seriously. Like, he didn’t have any money. He wasn’t properly this or that. And so we thought, we’ll help him out, and my husband went around, looking for a place for the festival.”

Michael Young fell into the music business in a most natural way. His parents, Jean and Jim Young, rented a house on Zena Road to Tim Hardin. Every day after school, ten-year-old Michael headed over to Tim’s house to hang out. There he soaked up the vibe and met all the stars of the day, including Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. In those heady months after the Woodstock Festival it was an exciting time to be in town and Michael took full advantage of the scene. Soon Michael was playing music and gigging around town at places like the Sled Hill Café. When he was 16 it was time to head off to college. He got Rick Danko, the bassist for The Band, to write a letter of recommendation, and in 1972 Michael started his freshman year at the Berklee College of Music. The coursework must have been dull because within months he was back in Woodstock—though not for long. Soon he headed to London and Nashville, but returned later the same year with a personal mission to mix tapes of his band’s music.

Michael Young, on right, at the Mink Hollow Studio

He started as a glorified gopher at Todd Rungren’s Mink Hollow Studio. Todd must have observed a mature work ethic in his young protégé, because he left Michael in charge of his home while he went out on the road. Over a three-week period Michael had the run of the studio. There, by dint of ferocious focus, he mastered the studio equipment and mixed his songs on the 24-track recording system. Upon Todd’s return he promoted Michael to assistant engineer.

Calls came in daily about different record projects—and messages were left on the kitchen’s refrigerator. One day Michael noticed a message from Ric Ocasek, the leader of The Cars. Todd suggested that he follow up, so Michael did. Ric was looking for help recording Candy-O and he invited Michael up to Boston. Michael’s specialty is creating “a rounded and clean band sound.” In all, Michael engineered seven songs. Unfortunately none of them made the album. But recently Rhino released the Northern Studios versions on a 2017 augmented release of Candy-O. Michael got his well-deserved album credit and Pitchfork says of his tracks, “Listen closely, though, and Candy-O boasts bolder production that emphasizes the band’s heavy attack and gives plenty of space for guitarist Elliot Easton to spin out composed solos. It sounds not just like new wave—the umbrella term for any pop-oriented counterculture music that arose in the wake of punk—but album rock.” The timing couldn’t be better with The Cars being inducted into the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on April 14.

For more info on Michael’s career visit: https://www.michaelyoungrecordproducer.com

~ Weston Blelock

1969: The (Other) Woodstock Festival

February 11th, 2010
Cyril Caster in 1974

A Photo of Cyril Caster from 1974

The Woodstock Sound-Outs were mini-festivals after which Michael Lang modeled his mega event in 1969. They were held on Pan Copeland’s farm on the outskirts of Woodstock, New York, from 1967 to 1970. The stage was inches from the ground and the amphitheater was a former cow pasture. Over the years different producers partnered with Pan, but by 1969 a musician from Seneca Falls, NY, named Cyril Caster was tapped to head up the festival production team. That group became known as Coyote Productions. Bob Fass, Pan Copeland, Cyril and a couple of others were in charge of the enterprise.

By 1969 the Sound-Outs were officially renamed the Woodstock-Saugerties Sound Festival, or simply The Woodstock Festival. (That was one reason Michael Lang and his partners called their event the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair.) That season the Coyote team planned eight concerts, signing headliners like Van Morrison, Paul Butterfield, Cyril and his band, Tim Hardin, Chrysalis and Children of God. But due to inclement weather very few of the concerts were staged that year. When festival-goers heading to the Bethel event accidentally came to Woodstock, they were directed to Pan’s field. At least they could say they had attended The Woodstock Festival in Woodstock.

Remembering Woodstock

January 19th, 2010

Remembering WoodstockRemembering Woodstock provides a fine assessment of the roots and cultural fallout of the Woodstock festival. This is accomplished via scholarly essays by a number of music and media academics from the UK and the Commonwealth. The one anomaly is the commentary from Country Joe McDonald, an American folk/rock performer who appeared at WOODSTOCK. The book is edited by Andy Bennett, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Surrey. The book was published in the UK by Ashgate in 2004 and is available on Amazon. 

Dave Laing, the first essayist in Remembering Woodstock, writes that the “Woodstock festival was a part of a distinct history of (non-classical) outdoor music festivals stretching back to the early twentieth century. The earliest festivals were rural events, often celebrating local styles and skills in music and folk dance.” He goes on to suggest that the Georgia Fiddlers Convention held in Atlanta in 1913 was one of the first such events. Read the rest of this entry »

Roots Celebrates Tim Hardin’s Birthday!

December 23rd, 2009
Tim Hardin's Woodstock Piano

Tim Hardin's Woodstock Piano; Remembering Tim on 12/23

Tim Hardin (1941-1980) moved to the Woodstock area in 1968 with his wife Susan Morss and his young son Damion. Already the town was a thriving music destination— with The Band, Bob Dylan, the Mothers of Invention, Richie Havens and the Blues Magoos in residence. It is said that Hardin, of all the songwriters in early 1960s Greenwich Village, was the best. His first album, recorded for Verve in 1966, yielded such tunes as “Reason to Believe,” which was covered by Rod Stewart, and “Hang On To a Dream” which became a staple for The Nice. In the aftermath of this release Bob Dylan referred to Hardin as the best songwriter alive.

It was with Tim Hardin 2, his second album, that the songwriter released “If I Were a Carpenter,” his most memorable song. Also on the album were such tunes as “Black Sheep Boy” and “Lady Came from Baltimore.” During an eight-month period from 1965 to 1966 some of his best-known songs were written on a piano in his room in Los Angeles. By the time Hardin moved to Woodstock his career was taking off.  Read the rest of this entry »


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