GREW UP in little, old Rockaway, N.J., back before it got swallowed by Metro-New York. Not a bad place to be a fifties kid. A childhood chum turned me on to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan in the early sixties. I don't remember when I first heard Woody Guthrie, but it must have been right after hearing Joan and Bob sing his songs. While working for WSOU-FM at Seton Hall University, I had access to an extensive collection of recordings of country blues, and folk “revival” people.
After leaving SHU in '67, I traveled the country extensively, and saw many rockbands that influenced me. One definitely was Country Joe and the Fish. I liked their quirky mix of rock, rag, blues, and, well...you name it. Country Joe McDonald, himself, continues to be an influence, even now. I've lived in Manhattan, Tucson, S.F., Berkeley, and last but definitely not least, Bloomington, Indiana. I've visited and busked Boston, Cambridge, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Madison (Wisc.), Chicago, D.C. (one sunny September day in '89, I played and sang a freedom song at the base of the Capitol Esplanade, facing the Washington Monument), New Orleans, Austin, Boulder, Syracuse, Portand, Me., Salt Lake City, L.A./Venice, Flagstaff, and Atlanta.


HILE AT THE Woodstock Festival in '69, I happened - unbeknownst to me - to get filmed in an action response to Ritchie Havens singing "OH FREEDOM" , when he exhorted the crowd to clap hands and sing. ZOOM! Camera work - focuses on some guy's back (...moi), then a PAN back to wide angle of the crowd...and the movie cuts back to Richie singing, "I got a telephone in my bosom..."

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of letter sINCE the Festival movie came out, FREEDOM has been a major theme in my life, and is the focus of much of my songwriting. Back in '91, Mr. Havens and the Nobody Special in the audience got to meet at a rally on the Ellipse in D.C.. When I drew his attention to the scene in the film, even he raised his arm and pointed, like so many others did back when the movie came out, “You're the guy who jumps up in the audience!” A humongous bear hug followed. In the past few years, I've attended two Havens concerts - one at the Tibetan Culture Center, here in Monroe County, Indiana, and the other at a beatiful listening space called the Tabernacle, in Mt. Tabor, NJ. The man has not lost his “spark” - I am happy to say. I ordered his new CD TIME from his web site (linked above - and on my musical influences page), and I'm happy to say the live performances show Richie in fine fettle! Do yourselves a favor and check out his home page for info on TIME. I especially like "I Was Educated By Myself". Upon listening, I daresay you will understand how the song is not a chest-beating bit of braggadoccio at all, but a much needed REVELATION of how to survive whatever adversity flings your way...not to mention the fine "rhapsodic" piano playing...


2 MORE Havens SHOWS!



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*****All materials copyrighted 1998-2000 Jesse Slokum*****

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