Friday, August 14, 2009

Detroit musicians at Woodstock? Here are three.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 11:22 AM

So how many Detroiters performed at Woodstock, which took place 40 years ago this weekend?

We recently received an e-mail from percussionist Muruga who noted that (news to us) he was there with folk singer Tim Hardin and that he can be heard with Hardin for one song on the new Woodstock: 40 Years on Back to Yasgur's Farm six-disc CD set from Rhino.

And on his MySpace page, the former Steve Booker explains that it was at the festival that he “met Swami Satchidananda who gave him the name Muruga. After Woodstock, Muruga studied under Swami Satchidananda and also recorded on a 1969 meditation record with him.”

We recall that the late pianist Teddy Harris Jr. and bassist Rod Hicks were both there with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Harris, an elder of the Detroit jazz scene and a prominent Motown musician who passed away in 2005, was Butterfield’s musical director at the time, commuting between Detroit and Butterfield’s place near the festival.

When we talked to Harris for a profile in 2002, he tried to convey the magnitude of the whole thing, including flying in by helicopter over the traffic-jammed roads. And he told us about the scene from the stage: “As far as the eye could see in any direction was just a mass of people. I’ve never seen a demonstration of love like that in my entire life.”

Hicks told us about looking out at night and seeing that audience estimated at 300,000 or more. With the darkness dotted with fires, he felt he was looking at the “biggest Indian pow-wow in the world.”

We’re waiting to hear whether Muruga has any more Woodstock memories to share with us. Anyone out there have Woodstock memories to share or know of other Detroit musicians who partook in the scene?

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