Creating Photo Mosaics

8 Oct


Title of workshop: Creating Photo Mosaics

By: Bob Gersztyn

The workshop is conducted by Bob Gersztyn, who is a semi-retired freelance photographer. Mr. Gersztyn has over 50,000 images in his archive ranging in subject matter from rock concerts, Native American pow wow’s and weddings to flowers, mountains and cityscapes. He has created hundred’s of collages over the past 4 decades. His current mosaic style evolved over the past 25 year period until he developed the unique photo mosiac construction technique that he will teach in the class. He has sold his collages in gift shops and galleries like Made In Oregon and Bush Barn for as much as $500.00. Hundreds of Gersztyn’s photographs have been published in dozens of books, magazines, newspapers, film and electronic publications including Blues Review, Guitar Player, Jesus Rocks The World, LIVE Magazine, The Wittenburg Door and the Statesman Journal to name some.

Tom Petty Collage copy

Students will construct a collage comprised of 9 or more 4×6 photos that will fill a 14×18 inside perimeter, with a 1″ border and a 16×20 outside one. The style of the technique uses alternating raised and flush 2″ squares, giving the illusion of a 3 dimensional effect as well as that of movement. The mosaics constructed will consist of 63 – 2″ squares made up of cut up photographs and black core foam core. After the mosaic is completed, a front mat can be placed over it and the students will take their completed art home to frame if they so choose.

Household items to bring to class, if available (I will bring my own tools so that people can use them, if necessary.)

  1. Utility razor knife.
  2. 12″ Carpenter square.
  3. 24″ metal straight edge.
  4. Sharp lead pencil.
  5. Black Sharpie to mark on plastic.
  6. 20″x20″ piece of cardboard.
  7. soft 12″ square of cloth or handkerchief.
  8. 10-20 small photograph prints measuring 4×6 inches or less that will be cut up for the collage (so don’t bring an original priceless print, bring a copy.)

The class will be offered in the Fall semester 2016 at Chemeketa community college here in Salem, Oregon.

One 10 minute break, after the 1st and 2nd hour.

  1. Planning
  2. What is a photo mosaic? Example
  3. How and why did the idea come about? Driftwood photos, slide shows, wall murals, Made In Oregon collages, early collages like Dylan cut up.
  4. Getting started on creating your own.
  5. You will construct a photo mosaic comprised of anywhere from 9-15 of your             favorite 4×6 size photographs.
  6. The outer perimeter of the finished mosaic will be 16×20
  7. The inside perimeter can be 12 x 16 to 14 x 18 comprised of anywhere             from 48 to 63 individual 2″ squares.

010 Grateful Dead Collage

  1. Before you begin you want to make sure that you have the right images in the                          correct format.
  2. Your collage could be comprised of 9 different images or only 1 in different             formats.

a.. Color, B&W, Lithograph, different colored filters, Many Photoshop                                          styles, etc..

  1. It could also be a single Image enlarged to a 14″x18″ print.


  1. One 32 x 40 sheet of black core foam core will produce 4 – 16 x 20 pieces
  2. Using a straight edge and razor knife, cut foam core into 16 x 20 pieces, so             each student has 2 – 16 x 20 pieces.
  3. Take your photographs and apply 3M mounting adhesive to the back of each and trim to the edges.
  4. Then spread the photos out on a 16 x 20 piece of black core foam core.
  5. position the foam core either horizontal or vertical.
  6. Begin to arrange the photos or 4×6 pieces of paper with the ideas that             you will shoot or use existing images that you have at home, within the                                           perimeter of your 16 x 20 sheet of foam core, in an aesthetically and                                       compositionally pleasing arrangement.
  7. This is the most important step of your final mosaic appearance.
  8. If you have too many photos to fit in the space, it doesn’t matter,                         because next week, when we cut the photos up into 2″ squares, you will be                                     discarding some of the squares and overlap parts of the images.
  9. Next week bring a thick piece of cardboard or other material to use as a cutting surface to use the razor knife on, without damaging the table surfaces.


  1. Creating the mosaic.
  2. Position piece of 16 x 20 foam core in the vertical or horizontal position as desired.
  3. With your square set for 1″ mark off the entire perimeter using a lead pencil and then with the straight edge draw lines to create a solid border on one of your                                 16 x 20 pieces of foam core.
  4. Using the 2nd 16 x 20 piece of foam core, arrange all your photos and experiment with             compositions based on color and which direction the images face.
  5. Use 12 -15, 4 x 6 images, even though they take up more space than is             available, at this time.
  6. Once you have what seems to be the best arrangement, begin cutting up all the 4 x 6                         prints into 2″ squares and place them back on the foam core, with the 1″ border.
  7. As you place the 6 – 2″ squares on the foam core, try to eliminate squares and                         create some overlapping of images, until you have exactly 63 – 2″ squares                                       arranged in a pattern that pleases you and that you find enjoyable to look at, that                                  fits within the borders.
  8. With a soft lead pencil or a pen that writes on resin coated photos, number all the 2″                         squares beginning on   the top from left to right and proceed numbering each one                           in a descending order until all 63 are numbered, so it will be easier to reassemble                                   next week.
  9. When numbering the squares do not press hard or you will score the number into the front emulsion. Best to use a sharpie that writes on glass and plastic.
  10. Make sure the ink is quick drying and non smudging.

1 Collage Rolling Stones

III.  Completing the mosaic.

  1. Take the 16 x 20 piece of foam core that isn’t marked with a border and set your square for 2″. After scoring the foam core with a pencil and metal straight edge, use a      razor knife and metal straight edge to cut up the foam core into 2″ squares and 1″ strips            for the borders.
  2. After you have 32 – 2″ squares cut and 6 – 1″ strips 12′ to 14″ long you can             begin the pre-assembly of your mosaic.
  3. Place your 16 x 20 piece of foam core with the 1″ border on the table in front of you, in either the horizontal or vertical position, depending on your choice.
  4. Glue 1″ strips on the left and top border of the piece of 16 x 20 foam core to             create a true square to begin from.

2 Then beginning with square #1 in the upper left hand corner begin placing the                             cut up 2″ picture squares in an alternating pattern.

  1. Begin with a 2″ square of black core foam core and glue photo square             #1 to it and then glue the raised image to the 16 x 20 mat.
  2. We will only use spray adhesive glue for the borders, but for the                                                2″ squares we will use 3M mounting adhesive.
  3. Continue this pattern with all 63 – 2″ squares, until the mosaic is             completed at the lower right hand corner.
  4. Take your last 2 – 1″ strips or segments and create the foam core border on the right                             side and the bottom.
  5. Since your mosaic probably outgrew the 1″ border by a fraction or two of an             inch, you may have to trim it to size. Once these borders are completed, the                                    mosaic is finished, other than placing a mat with a 1″ border over it, of any color                               you choose, but white usually works best, it is ready to be framed.
  6. If you wish to hang it on a wall, you need to frame it. The best way to do this is to order your frames from a wholesale supplier. One place is I usually            get a 16 x20 deep canvas frame and then get a 16×20 sheet of non glare plexiglass to            place over it.
  7. Optional Extra Credit.
  8. If anyone completes their project in less than the allotted time, they can begin a second one, if they purchase additional foam core.
  9. If you want to make a mat for your mosaic purchase a 32 x 40 sheet of white mat board at affordable framing and cut it up into 4 16 x 20 pieces dividing the cost among 4          people or keeping it to use later.





Creedence Clearwater Revisited Review

13 Sep


“Creedence Clearwater Revisited” Concert Review

September 5, 2016

L. B. Day Amphitheater, Salem, Oregon

By: Bob Gersztyn


It was with great anticipation that I attended my first “Creedence Clearwater Revistited” show on Labor Day 2016. Salem, Oregon has been my home since 1986, when I moved there from my original hometown in Greater Detroit, Michigan. Back in hippie times, in 1970 “Creedence Clearwater Revival” played “Cobo Hall,” the largest venue in Detroit during that period. It was during the peak of their success and I attended the concert with my girlfriend on the main floor about 15 rows back and pretty much center stage with an unobstructed view of the quartet, in all their glory as the most successful rock stars of the hippie era, with 20 charted radio hits over a 4 year period. After the Beatles Broke up, Creedence dominated the radio hit charts, until they broke up in 1972. Each of their first 6 record albums was peppered with hits, until their 7th and last,  “Mardi Gras,” which was released in 1972.


Creedence’s songs were as culturally impacting as the Beatles or Bob Dylan, but with their own voice for their own time. Although they wrote most of their own music with hits like “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising and “Down on the Corner,” they also had the ability to do covers of R&B and blues tunes in their own unique style, so as to make them their own. I remember to this day the exact place and circumstances that I first heard a number of their covers, from “Suzie Q” to “I heard it Through the Grapevine.” Ironically, I attended the “Creedence Clearwater Revisited” concert with the same girlfriend that I attended the first Revival 46 years earlier, but now we’ve been married for over 45 years. She told me that she saw Gladys Knight and the Pips, who were the first to record “I Heard It Through The Grapevine, perform it at the Motown Revue at the Fox Theater in 1967.  The next year Marvin Gaye turned it into a bigger hit and CCR turned it into a bigger one yet.


We were seated 4 rows back and center stage, when promptly at 4:00 P.M. “Creedence Clearwater Revistited” took the stage as everyone plugged in and began the set with “Born On The Bayou.” By the time that “Who’ll Stop The Rain” began, I realized that  vocalist, John Tristao’s replacement, Dan McGuiness, looked a lot like John Fogerty in his youth, as well as having a similar sounding voice, which was to be expected.  “Suzie Q” began with an unearthly sound that blended with guitar feedback until the train chugging drums took the lead. Kurt Griffey blew me away with some incredibly delightful extended guitar solos, while Cosmo attacked his drums like 175mm howitzer shells exploding just out of range.


Bass player Stu Cook and drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford have been friends for over 58 years and first met when they were 13. Music is the glue that has held them together and produced the driving rhythm section that became part of the phenomenon that was the original CCR from 1967-1972. That glue held as they formed “Creedence Clearwater Revisited” in the mid 1990’s shortly after they were inducted into the “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” That glue is still holding today with Stu and Cosmo as the nucleus that drives the 5 man quintet with help from singer/guitarist Dan McGuiness, lead guitarist Kurt Griffey and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Steve Gunner. During their 90 minute set they would do homage to nearly 20 songs that Stu and Cosmo helped create nearly 50 years ago. Remarkably that music still had the ability to drive people to their feet if not dance with abandon.


Cook does most of the talking to introduce songs and band members, but at one point Clifford came out from behind his drums and stepped up to a microphone to address the crowd in the sold out packed amphitheater. He talked about friendship and longevity as he flexed his bicep to a screaming crowd. Stu and Cosmo embraced each other in an expression of joy and love that reflected the Camaraderie that exists between them. That connection with each other that they have was apparent throughout their performance and the spillover effect was just as apparent in the performances of all the other members of “CCR.” The effect was contagious and spilled over into the crowd as well, as 10,000 people were on their feet dancing to “As Long As I Can See The Light.” After the band concluded their final encore with “Up Around The Bend,” the crowd reluctantly accepted that it was time to leave with their memories singing and their ears ringing.


Ty Curtis Gig Blues Rock Review

29 Aug


Ty Curtis Gig Review

By: Bob Gersztyn


On Thursday August 25, 2016, the Ty Curtis band  performed a mid week concert at the “B2 Tap House,” in South Salem, Oregon as the first of what they hope to be many other outdoor concerts, on the venue’s patio. A stage set was set up at the rear of the open area and folding chairs provided seating for those who desired it, as the show began promptly at 7:00 PM. Curtis was featuring his sixth album, Blame Me, which was recently reviewed in “Blues Rock Review.”


Over the past 2 decades, Ty has played with and opened for artists like Robert Cray, the “Doobie Brothers” and George Thorogood, to name some, along with winning a variety of awards for his brand of blues rock, both regionally and nationally. When he’s hanging out in his hometown of Salem, Oregon he plays a variety of shows all over the region, including the largest Blues festival West of the Mississippi, the “Waterfront Blues Festival,” in Portland, Oregon, over the July 4th weekend.



The current lineup of the “Ty Curtis Band” is Ty on lead vocals and lead guitar, longtime drummer Jerry Jacques driving the locomotive beat on his drum kit and “Latin Award” winning 5 string electric bass player, Tony Valdez. The first set was primarily made up of songs off Blame Me, and provided the trio ample opportunity to mix it up. Ty is a showman, but at the same time he understands the importance of dissolving the boundary between the stage and the audience so as to allow their energies to mix and transcend the norm. Curtis opened with “That Good,” the first song on the new album, as he destroyed the boundaries by walking out into the audience as he continued to play without missing a beat. The modern wonders of radio signals replacing tangled chords allows the musical artist artists of the 21st century to do what artists like the “Grateful Dead” and Bruce Springsteen pioneered in their 20th century performances.


With a voice reminiscent of Paul Rogers from Bad Company, “The Firm,” etc., Curtis attacked the guitar with a fury that was a cross between Henry Vestine (“Canned Heat”) and Phil Keaggy (Gospel lead guitarist). Ty, Jerry and Tony mixed it up and jammed as they magically worked their way through a set list that even included a punk rock variation of a Bob Dylan song. “Blame Me,” the title song of the new album ended the first set as the trio jammed together until Ty exploded off the stage into the audience again, playing up and down the main aisle, even posing with people taking selfies as he played, until he worked his way back on stage to announce that they were going to take a short break.

ty curtis collage #2reduced


After about 15 minutes the band began their second set with “Key To My Heart,”  the first song off Curtis’s 5th album, Water Under The Bridge , as he played his Gibson like it was part of his body, whose function was to satisfy the crowds tympanic membranes. The band was playing at maximum efficiency and was “tight.” Ty excitedly told the crowd that his songs were being played by radio stations in Grand Rapids, Michigan and even London, England, as he continued to wail on both vocal and guitar until the crowd was bobbing its heads in time to a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean.” The song included some phenomenal guitar shredding, along with jamming between members of the trio at spring snapping tightness. The final song of the night was Feel What I Feel, the title song off Curtis’s 2012 release, which was co-produced by Jacob Peterson of the “Steve Miller Band.” At one point the police came by because of a complaint about the noise, but they were assured that the concert would end by 9:00 PM, which it did.


Baby Boomers to the 1960’s

25 Aug

A History of Spiritual Rock  Roll

john micheal talbot color #2

Baby Boomers to the 1960’s

By: Bob Gersztyn

The first of the “Baby Boomers” were born in 1946 to returning World War II veterans.  Those same soldiers fought Germany and Italy in Europe and Africa, along with the Japanese in the South Pacific and the Orient.  Harry Truman, the man who ordered the nuclear annihilation of two cities in Japan was president.  The returning veterans were happy to find work, after living through the joblessness of the “Great Depression” prior to going off to the work of war.   From the auto plants of Detroit, to the steel mills of Pennsylvania and the oil wells of California, Oklahoma and Texas, there was plenty of work.  For those that preferred a pastoral setting to that of a bustling city, there was an infinity of fertile farmland in between the coast’s to feed and employ the growing population.



The first memories of that early batch of “Baby Boomers” were formed through the lens of a new technological influence, the television set.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower expounded on the Communist threat and the American Dream, while Walt Disney marketed everything from Davey Crockett to Mickey Mouse and taught the young sponges to dream.  Most everyone had Sunday off from work, except for drug stores, movie theaters, bars and businesses related to the recreational/entertainment industry.  For most citizens of the USA, Sunday mornings were either spent in church or watching religious programs on television.


UFO sightings, beginning in 1947 were part of early childhood memories.  From flying saucer crashes in Roswell, New Mexico, to floating lights in Adrian, Michigan, earth’s attention was drawn to the sky and the possibility of extra terrestrial life.  Movies like “This Island Earth”, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “I Married a Monster From Outer Space” and authors like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury  and Robert Heinlien speculated the ramifications of human encounters with alien life forms, robot technology and space travel.


Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), was first discovered in 1938, at the beginning of WW II, by Albert Hoffman, a chemist, working for Sandoz Laboratories, in Basel, Switzerland, on a cure for morning sickness during pregnancy.  Later the psychedelic mind expanding entheogen was used by the US government in mind control experiments under the CIA’s MKULTRA program, during the 1950’s and into the 1960’s.  The drug played an important part in shaping the Boomers vision of reality and spirituality, especially after receiving positive endorsements by admired and recognizable members of society, like the actor Cary Grant and the publisher of Time/Life, Henry Luce.


Pope Pius XII led the Catholics while Billy Graham donned the Protestant leadership mantle and eventually became the Protestant counterpart to the pope.  War broke out again, this time in Korea, with our new enemy, the atheist Communists, who now controlled North Korea with the help of the Chinese hoards, led by Mao Zedong.  The hot war in Korea ended, but the cold war with Communism continued and Nikita Khrushchev led the USA’s #1 arch enemy, the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” (USSR), as he pounded his shoe on a desk in the United Nations assembly.


Sister Rosetta Tharpe prefigured Madonna, Dolly Parton, Queen Latifah and every other future female musical rebel rolled into one.  To say that she was ahead of her time would be an understatement.  She was born the daughter of a Holiness minister in 1914, and was a child prodigy who mastered the guitar by the age of six.  In 1934 she married a Holiness minister, and in 1938 she was signed to the Decca record label.  Columbia record producer John Hammond included her in his “From Spirituals to Swing” concert, and her performance of Rock Me a remake of Thomas Dorsey’s Hide Me In Thy Bosom, laid the foundation for rock & roll nearly two decades later.



The new musical form, known as rock & roll, was born in the early 1950’s.  Pioneers like Ike Turner and the “Kings of Rhythm” along with Bill Haley and the “Comets” recorded the first 45 RPM records of the new genre.  The sound was derived from the merger of White country, Sothern gospel and bluegrass music with Black blues, gospel and R&B.  It was hard to distinguish whether the performers were Black or White by just listening to the recordings.  Some of the other early Black pioneers were Chuck Berry, Little Richard Penniman, Fats Domino and Bo Diddley.


Chuck Girard #2


Bo Diddley (Ellas Bates), like so many of the pioneers of rock & roll received his early musical training in the church.  When Bates was asked about why so many of the early rock & roll artists were involved in churches when they were younger, he responded with “That’s where we learned how to do something…but I wasn’t playing no Rock ‘n’ Roll in it then.  My pastor of my church was Reverend Smith and the man who took care of the music part was the professor O. W. Frederick, Oscar Frederick, and he taught me violin, so I played classical music for twelve years.  Nobody influenced me to play classical music. I saw a dude with a violin and a stick and that looked really cool, you know? And my church got together and took up twenty-nine dollars and that’s what it cost back then. Twenty-nine bucks was a lot of money back then.  You could get a sack of potatoes for like damn near ten cents.”  (6)


Their White counter parts, like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Dion Dimucci came out of their respective churches.  Dimucci was one of the early White rock & roll stars.  He was raised a Roman Catholic, in New York city, where he formed Dion and the Belmonts, after Belmont Avenue, in the Bronx, in 1957.  The style of rock that they performed was called doo wop, and used the vocal harmonizing style of Black music that originated in Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia.   Dion, as he was now known narrowly avoided death, by passing up on the opportunity to fly with Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper on their ride to eternity, in 1959.  In a 2006 interview Dimucci talked about the different messages of Blues and Gospel music.


“A lot of Blues music seems like it’s moving away from God, or the center, and Gospel music is moving towards it. It’s embracing a higher reality. When you look a little closer, the way that I define it or explain it is that the Blues is the naked cry of the human heart, apart from God. People are searching for union with God; they’re searching to be home. There’s something in people that seeks this union with their creator. Why am I here? Where am I going? What’s it all about? Who am I? All this kind of stuff, but the Blues is a beautiful art form. It’s incredible that you could express such a wide range of feelings. You could use it to sell hamburgers or cars, or to cry out in sorrow, or joy. You could express yourself totally within the Blues. So there’s some kind of connection, but if you ask me exactly what it is, I think that it all comes out of the same place, so to speak.”  (1), (2).


Christian recordings were a marginal esoteric branch of the music industry produced by Christian record companies, like Benson Records.  In 1951, Jarrel McCracken, a graduate of Baylor university, in Waco, Texas began what was to become an important record label for the Jesus movement’s music – “Word”.  Southern Gospel was the dominant form of Protestant Christian music at the time, in White society.  Christian music was just a segregated as the rest of society, so Black gospel had its own record label, “Vocalion”.  Most Christian music was marketed by Christian bookstores.  In 1950 the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) was born, and included about 2 dozen stores.



Racism was the law of the land, in the form of Jim Crow, and enforced segregation.  It existed throughout the country in one form or another.  Some states, like Oregon, simply made it against the law for Negroes to move there, while others like Michigan, simply designated what areas they could live in, or gather.  The Southern states, like Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi had perfected segregation, and had separate facilities, including restaurants, bathrooms and drinking fountains for Negroes.  The mixing of the races in the music bled over into other areas.  After education was integrated, in 1954, through Brown vs. the Board of Education, in Kansas, the floodgates were opened.



Elvis Presley was the breakthrough act for rock & roll to hit the mainstream.  After being televised on some of the top TV programs in the mid 1950’s, including “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts”, “The Milton Berle Show”, “The Steve Allen Show” and finally “The Ed Sullivan Show” he became the most popular entertainer in the USA and ultimately the “free world”, during the last half of the 20th century.  Interestingly, Presley was a frustrated Southern Gospel singer, who signed with Sam Phillips and Sun Records, after failing an audition with Jim Hamill and Cecil Blackwood’s Southern Gospel group, “The Songfellows”.  At one point Presley’s popularity even eclipsed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s National Communist Witch hunt headlines.



The fear of communism and nuclear war were further exacerbated by films like “Invasion USA” and “On the Beach”.  One of the pop culture trends in the 1950’s was to build a bomb shelter for the family.   Using the same technology that launched destructive nuclear warheads, the USA and USSR began a space race, in 1957, after the Russian’s launched Sputnik 1.  Soon the space race escalated from launching dogs and monkeys to humans, into orbit around the earth.



Beatniks and the “Beat Generation”, in the 1950’s preceded the counter culture “Hippies” of the “Baby Boomer’s” 1960’s revolution.  Two of the leading literary icons of the “Beats” were poet Alan Ginsberg, the author of “Howl” an epic poem about man’s disconnection with his environment, and his novelist compatriot, Jack Kerouac, author of “On the Road”, and other equally hip tomes.  They wrote about the rift between the human soul and the industrialized world that the 20th century had produced.



Preceding the Beats were the Industrialized Workers of the World, also known as the Wobblies.  They were union activists, who used literature, folk music and blues to carry their message.  One of the martyrs of the movement was an immigrant named Joe Hill, who was executed in 1915.  Singer/songwriter/activists like Woodie Guthrie sang about Joe, and the plight of the working man.  Even authors like James Jones wrote about economic injustice forcing the poor to join the military as their only option to poverty, in his novel “From Here To Eternity”.



By the 1950’s Chrysler, Ford and GM, the big three auto corporations, along with major supporting industries, from the rail road and trucking to steel production, were unionized.  This resulted in wildcat strikes that sometimes turned violent, as the unions demanded better wages and working conditions.  As wages got better, the rural Southerners, both Black and White began immigrating to the larger industrial cities, like Detroit and Cleveland, Philadelphia and Pittsburg.  Although the cities were segregated, there was a mixing of the races at the workplace, and sometimes in recreation, resulting in a new musical hybrid as sounds and ideas merged.



The Grammy Awards began in 1958, referring to the invention of the gramophone, which sparked the soul of the recording industry.  So from Thomas Edison, to Alexander Graham Bell and eventually Emile Berliner, who invented the gramophone and sold the patent to the Victor Talking Machine Company (RCA) (11), the recording industry evolved into a lucrative business.  Gospel music wasn’t recognized until the 4th annual Grammy Awards, when Mahalia Jackson won the “Best Gospel or other Religious Category” for Every Time I Hear the Spirit.


Darden 001

The Civil Rights movement began, with the passing of “Brown vs. the Board of Education” by the Supreme court, May 17, 1954, calling for the desegregation of public education.  In 1955 Rosa Parks started the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, that brought Rev. Martin Luther King to his leadership role, as co-founder of “The Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  In 1960 Ella Baker founded “The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee” (SNCC), which was the beginning of an expression of what became known as “Black Power”.


American Bandstand, hosted by Dick Clark, in Philadelphia, via the television set, became the first national TV show to showcase rock and roll and its culture, in 1957.  By the end of the 1950’s, Elvis was drafted into the army, and a tragic air plane crash claimed the lives of three early rock stars, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper.  In 1960, Chubby Checker released a cover of Clyde McPhatter’s song called the twist, which initiated a dancing craze, that got unhip white people shimmying and shaking on the dance floor.  It was even reported that President Kennedy did the twist in the white house. One of the major unexpected results of this new musical phenomenon was the integration of American society.



Bo Diddley #2

If rock & roll was the soul of integration then folk music was the mind.  By the early 1960’s the Black rock & rollers were marginalized, and top 40 AM radio stations played pop rock that had lost its earlier edge.  Fabian and Franky Avalon replaced Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.  As rock & roll was on the descent in the late 1950’s folk music began its ascent.  Folk music was inspired by Woody Guthrie, and his student, Pete Seeger, whose group the Weavers and career were put on a temporary hiatus, when he was blackballed by Senator Joseph McCarthy, as a Communist.



The Kingston Trio was the first major act of the new folk fad, to receive national recognition and air play.  After them came the Limelighters, The Highwaymen, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary.  The music was acoustic in instrumentation, and used guitars, mandolins and banjos.  It employed a wide range of vocal styles, both solo and in harmony, and its lyrics dealt with gritty subject matter. Topics like adultery, exploitation, murder, robbery, swindles, extraordinary exploits and broken promises told stories that captivated its audience.



Peter, Paul and Mary were made up of Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers.  Their debut album in 1962 was inspired by the same social, cultural and political tradition that Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger followed.  Their first hit off the album was “If I Had a Hammer”, recorded over a decade earlier by the “Weavers”, who were made up of Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman and Pete Seeger who first recorded it in 1949.  They represented the musical conscience of the nation, supporting the struggling civil rights movement and the anti-Viet Nam war faction.



At one point folk music upset the status quo in New York city so much that they banned folk singing in Washington square, which precipitated a protest that successfully, reversed the decision.  Popular folk singers of the day participated in the civil rights movement, and sang about its struggles.  The biggest folk ensemble of the 1960’s, the “New Christy Minstrels” performed at the White house for President Lyndon Baines Johnson.



This thought provoking music reflected the mood of the country, as it continued in the Ideological war with the Soviet’s.  There were multiple Cold War confrontations with Communism, in the early 1960’s, from the Marxist conversion of Cuba, the crisis with Russia, over nuclear warheads in that island nation resulting in the “Bay of Pigs” fiasco, the invasion of the Dominican Republic and escalating US military involvement in Viet Nam.



Barry McGuire began a solo career in 1960 after he purchased his first guitar.  He spent some time in the Navy, and got into Woodie Guthrie, Ledbelly and Pete Seeger until he started gigging at Santa Monica bars, where Peggy Lee discovered him, and got him a recording contract.  In 1962 he joined Art Podell’s group, the “New Christy Minstrels” as the lead singer.  He wrote and sang lead on the group’s biggest hit 45 rpm single, “Green, Green”, and eventually went solo again, which produced the biggest hit of his career, when he recorded P. F. Sloan’s song “Eve of Destruction, in 1965.

Mavis Staples #2


Black music groups began receiving more air play, on White radio, after groups like the Mills Brothers and the Inkspots broke the ice, back in the 1930’s.  By the 1950’s when Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry came on the scene, the White market was being integrated by Black music. Columbia records producer, John Hammond signed a Black Gospel singer from Detroit, Michigan, named Aretha Franklin in 1960.  At the same time Detroit produced the most important Black record label of the 1960’s, when Berry Gordy established “Motown” records with Smokey Robinson singing You Got To Shop Around.



Sam Cooke was 1 of 7 children born to a Baptist minister in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  After the family moved to Chicago he became part of the family’s singing quartet, and by 1950, at the age of 19, joined the “Soul Stirrers”, a black gospel group.  Through his success with the “Soul Stirrers”, on Specialty records, he achieved fame and fortune within the Black gospel music community.  He signed as a secular artist with Keen records where he had his first hit, with “You Send Me”.   He started his own record label, SAR, and finally signed with RCA, where he had a string of hits, until his untimely death in 1964.



In an interview in 2002 Clarence Fountain, leader of the “5 Blind Boys of Alabama”, who was a contemporary of Cooke, explained – “We had plenty of chances to go with rock & roll.  We had plenty of chances for doing the things that all the rest of the people had done.  We could have did that too, but we didn’t want to.  I was in the studio with Sam Cooke when he signed his contract.  The man offered me one just like he did him.  But I turned it down because that ain’t what I told the Lord I wanted to do.  I wanted to sing gospel.” (8)



After his discharge from the army, Elvis Presley became a movie star, only singing songs in his own films, that he starred in, with titles like “Blue Hawaii”, “Follow That Dream” and “Kid Galahad”.   His impact on music now wasn’t from his style and manner of performance, but from the direction that he took.  Music films, featuring artists like the Beatles and Bob Dylan would soon begin to make their way to the screen, as an important way to satisfy and create fans.


The 1950’s ended on a sour note, as Fidel Castro established a Marxist government in Cuba, after taking power, and became an ally of the Soviet‘s.   The next conflict with the Communist’s occurred when U2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers was shot down over Russian air space.  Everyone was ready for a change, when a youthful looking John F. Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic president elected, and ushered in an era of optimism, along with the Peace Corps.  Kennedy’s inaugural speech in January 1961 set the tone of his administration when he said, “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”



Mylon LeFevre was a member of his parents Southern gospel music group, “The Singing LeFevres”.  “The LeFevres” were pioneers of Southern gospel music, and owned their own recording studio, as many of the early groups did.  They also embraced the potential for ministry using the new medium of television.  While Mylon was in the army, in the early sixties, he wrote a song titled Without Him, which was recorded by Elvis Presley, and over 100 other artists. (2), (3), (4) A few years later Mylon formed a secular Southern Gospel Rock group named after himself, and spread the gospel in secular venues, through his music, in the late 1960‘s and 1970’s.


Reduced Oregon Country Fair #1

The next major breakthrough that would change the social structure of the country was the advent of the FDA approved birth control pill, which began the sexual revolution.  Sex without the consequence of pregnancy never had been readily available before.  This liberated women, as they never had been before, which in turn augmented the women’s rights movement.



The Roman Catholic Church convened Vatican II, in 1962, to discuss the birth control pill among other issues of the day.  Pope John XXIII was in office at the time and at least four future popes were council members.  Some of the key issues that impacted church members were, no longer requiring them to abstain from eating meat on Friday, allowing the mass to be spoken in the language used by attendees, instead of Latin and economic justice.



In an interview in 2006 Christian social justice musician, Bruce Cockburn explained the impact of Vatican II on the world in general.  “One of the things that happened in the 1960s was Vatican II, in which Pope John XXIII convened all the bigwigs of the Catholic Church to decide what the destiny of the church should be and what role it should play in the modern world. It was decided at that time that the church would be the church of the poor. It was decided that I think because of the vibe of the sixties, the kind of philosophy and energy that was flowing around. It flowed through the clerics as much as it flowed through everybody else. I mean it was just in the air.  It touched everybody, whether they wore the uniform or not…of the hippie movement I mean. As a result of Vatican II the church began to teach people in Latin America to read. As a result of people in Latin America learning to read they started trying to overthrow the governments that were keeping them poor and malnourished and not getting medical attention and all sorts of stuff. Many church people became supporters of that kind of social change, and we’ve been living with the result ever since.”  (6)


65 Bruce Cockburn 1997 - Port, OR #10

Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth, as the Berlin wall was erected.  Freedom riders descended on the segregationist South, from Washington DC, as students begin protesting everything from nuclear testing to the escalating war in Viet Nam.  The CIA conducted experiments, under the code name MK Ultra, to find out the potential of psychedelic drugs like LSD, for mind control.  Ken Kesey, a Stanford graduate student in creative writing was given LSD, at the same time that he worked in a mental institution, and wrote “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.



At the turn of the decades, with Elvis in the Army and rock & roll on the decline after the payola scandal ruined the career of New York DJ Alan Freed, and nearly derailed Dick Clark’s American bandstand, squeaky clean Pat Boone was the top pop star in the US.  Boone was a descendent of American frontier pioneer, Daniel Boone and was one of the most important performers, in the 1950’s, responsible for the integration of rock & roll into mainstream society.  He had his own TV show, and was a successful film and recording star, who was also a devout Christian. He began his singing career in the 1950’s, when he was a college student, and recorded sanitized versions of what was then called race music.  He had hits on the radio with songs like Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame” and Little Richard’s Tutti Fruiti.  He drew criticism from both sides, when some accused him of trying to pollute White society with Black music, while others claimed that he was exploiting Black songwriters by capitalizing on their compositions.




The human space barrier was cracked for the USA, when John Glenn orbited the earth in 1962, and the first communications satellite, “Telestar” was launched by AT&T, which producing a radio hit for the “Tornados”.  “Silent Spring” one of the first books, voicing concern for the environment was published by Rachel Carson.  Students began protesting more loudly, as they supported the civil rights movement, and began speaking with a louder voice, through the Free Speech movement in California and the forming of “Students For A Democratic Society” (SDS), in Michigan.  At the same time Bob Dylan released his debut album, which was produced by John Hammond, on Columbia Records.

49 Bob Dylan


Another genre of music, who’s popularity was waning in the early 1960’s was known as doo wop.  Groups like ‘Little Anthony and the Imperials‘, “The Drifters” “Dion and the Belmonts” and “The Coasters” were some of the top groups.  The Castells, with lead singer Chuck Girard had a couple of top 40 hits with “Sacred” and “So This Is Love”.



“I was pretty much a straight-laced young guy.  I was into the music thing.  I wasn’t really much of a student but I wasn’t really into religious activity or spiritual curiosity in those days.   I was more into the music thing, I got bit with the music bug about junior high school years, and by my senior year in high school I had put together a little vocal group.  I’m old enough to where I go back to the doo-wop days in 1961.” (7)



Soon afterwards Girard began working as a studio musician. and collaborated with Beach Boy producer, Gary Usher, and sang lead on Brian Wilson’s hit composition about a motorcycle, called “Little Honda” by the “Hondells”.   Motorcycles would play an important part in the 1960’s, after cheaper versions of Harley Davidson’s and Triumphs were marketed by the Japanese, in the form of Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha, allowing the average person to purchase one.  Then after an up and coming  journalist named Hunter S. Thompson published “Hell’s Angels:  The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, in 1966, Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels became celebrities.



Civil rights was the dominant issue during much of the early 1960’s, along with the escalating conflict with Viet Nam.  Bob Dylan wrote and recorded “Blowing In the Wind”, which not only became a top 40 hit when Peter, Paul & Mary recorded it, but an anthem of the civil rights movement.  Pop art took the stage and graphic television images of self immolating Buddhist monks in Viet Nam burnt themselves into the brains of the “Babyboomers”.

Stained Glass Zoom


Interest in mind expanding substances like psilocybin, mescaline and LSD increased after LIFE magazine published an article by R. Gordon Wasson, about the use of psilocybin mushrooms in the religious ceremony of an indigenous tribe in Southern Mexico in 1957. In 1954 writer Aldous Huxley published the Doors of perception, about his mescaline experience and later became friends with Timothy Leary when he was conducting his experiments with LSD at Harvard.  Leary and his associate, Richard Alpert were fired from Harvard, after their research with mind expanding drugs got out of hand.  The duo then moved the experiments with psychedelics to Millbrook, a private estate in New York. (9) (10)



President Kennedy’s proposed civil rights legislation is punctuated by violence, including the death of Medgar Evers whose murder Bob Dylan wrote a song about, and four Black girls that were killed in an Alabama church by a bomb blast, detonated by White supremist terrorists.  At the same time the UK, US and USSR sign an above ground nuclear test ban., as women officially find out that they are discriminated against, through a commission’s finding and a US supported coup condones the murder of president Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam’s puppet president.



The era known as the 1960’s, was officially ushered in when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald, who in turn was assassinated by Jack Ruby, with Lyndon Baines Johnson being sworn in as the new president.  President Johnson declares an “unconditional war on poverty”, and signs into law, the “Civil Rights Act of 1964.  “Dr. Strangelove” is released and the Beatles come to America, appear on the Ed Sullivan show, while “I Want To Hold Your Hand” is number 1 on the radio charts.



  1. Welch, Brian “Head”.  Washed By The Blood, from “Save Me From Myself”, Driven Music Group, 2008.
  2. 2 September 2009
  3. The Bible. King James version.  Matthew 11:28.
  4. Welch, Brian “Head”. “Save Me From Myself”, published by:  Harper Collins, 2007.
  5. Utube testimonial. 31 August 2009.
  6. Blueswax Interview with Bo Diddley by Bob Gersztyn. February 15, 2006
  7. Wittenburg Door Interview By Bob Gersztyn May 2007.        (4 November 2008)
  8. Dion Dimucci  Interview .  By:  Bob Gersztyn, in Blueswax.  (2 February 2006)
  9. Banville, Scott. “The LeFevres“, “Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music”, edited by William McNeil. Routledge 2005.
  10. (6 November 2008)
  11. Powell, Mark Allan.  “Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music”, Hendrickson Publishers 2002.
  12. Bob Gersztyn.  Interview with Bruce Cockburn.  Folkwax, November 16, 2006. (November 12, 2008).

  1. Bob Gersztyn. Interview with Chuck Girard.  Submitted to the Wittenburg Door 2007.


  1. Bob Gersztyn.  Interview with Clarence Fountain of “The Blind Boys of Alabama”.  The “Wittenburg Door”.  May/June 2003.


  1. Huxley, Aldous.  The Doors of Perception.  Published by:  Harper & Row, 1954.


  1. Solomon, David, editor. LSD: The Consciousness-Expanding Drug.  Published by:  P. Putnam’s Sons 1964.


  1. Bellis, Mary. “Emile Berliner – The History of the Gramophone”. (14 December 2008)

Bob Dylan #1

John Fahey’s Rehearsal After Henry Vestine Died

28 Jul

John Fahey Solo066

By: Bob Gersztyn

One October evening in 1997, John Fahey scheduled a rehearsal for his new industrial noise project with two local musicians, from Salem, Oregon, where he had been living since the early1980’s. He and his wife Melody were living in Los Angeles during the heyday of his career, where they met after John and his second wife were divorced. Melody had a degree in Cinematography from UCLA, where she took classes with Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek before they formed the “Doors.” She was also a painter and inspired John to begin painting, but unfortunately he wanted to be free of all encumbrances, so he walked out of the house one day never to return. Instead he lived on the street with the homeless, out of a car that he bought and eventually the sleazy Oregon Capital Inn. He had royalty checks regularly coming in, but they just kept him at the poverty level. He said it was by choice, because if he had too much money, he’d spend it on prostitutes.


At the same time that he was living on the streets of Salem, Oregon, and he stayed at “Union Rescue Mission,” on occasion, but he disliked the place and said that he’d rather sleep on the street. He befriended the homeless and indigent while he was continuing to create. His prowess in playing a steel stringed acoustic guitar with finger picks earned him Rolling Stones #35 position as the Greatest Guitar Player of the 20th Century, in 2001. In 1997 he won a Grammy Award, not for music but writing, when he wrote the liner notes of the Smithsonian Institute’s Anthology of Early Blues musicians. At the same time he released “City of Refuge,” an “Industrial Noise” project that  was completely antithetical to his previous work. It was called a comeback album by Rolling Stone, Spin and Entertainment Weekly.

The album presented a completely different side of Fahey than anything else he had ever done. He discarded the acoustic guitar and finger picks for a Fender electric guitar that he translated the pain and suffering of street life through. By changing, he alienated many of his old fans, but made new ones, as a cult godfather figure to alternative Avant-garde musicians like Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. When you contrast that with the time that Country Joe McDonald told this writer that he and his wife walked out in the middle of a Fahey Christmas concert in the late 1990’s because it was so dissonant. John and Joe, shared a room in Berkeley and even the same girlfriend, when the former first moved there from Takoma Park, Maryland in the early 1960’s. McDonald said that when Fahey played at the “Jabberwock,” he was mesmerizing and he was musically influenced by Fahey’s  guitar playing style, which is evident in his guitar playing on “Country Joe and the Fish,” albums.

It was Wednesday night, October 22, 1997, and when the rehearsal began in Tim Knight’s basement recording studio, as a member of the “John Fahey Trio” he sensed an uneasiness in John that seemed to translate itself into a more dissonant sound in Fahey’s guitar, if that was possible. Soon after they began to follow John’s lead and were jamming together, John stopped and began to talk about Henry Vestine. He and Henry grew up together in Takoma Park, Maryland and although John was a few years his senior they both had a passion for the guitar, and connected through the limited music scene that was happening there at the time.  Vestine played electric, while Fahey stayed acoustic, but they experimented with guitar techniques together and even listened to old 78 RPM recordings of seminal blues musicians. Vestine preferred electric artists “like B. B. King, Hound Dog Taylor, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, and John Lee Hooker,” while Fahey liked finger pickers, like “John Hurt, Charley Patton, Blind Willie Johnson, Sam McGhee.”

John continued to reminisce, but now he began to play his guitar again, by periodically striking a dissonant chord, which Knight and Scrivner followed as Fahey continued to narrate. He spoke of how all the kids who were into music would go to get guitar lessons from one of the only Black families in the area, by the name of Williams. There were two brothers and if you were lucky old man Williams would come out with his fiddle, five string banjo and guitar. Then Vestine who was in Jr. High moved to Southern California with his parents, but Fahey corresponded with him by mail. Fahey was also corresponding with California record collectors Bob and Richard Hite and in 1964/65 and when he moved to Los Angeles to study for a Masters degree at UCLA he introduced Vestine and Bob Hite to Alan Wilson, who he met in Boston and even lived with for 6 months, at a jazz and record show.

At the time Henry Vestine was one of the hottest electric guitar players in L.A. and had his own band called the “Henry Vestine Trio.” They were playing at a small club in West L.A. by the San Diego Freeway , on Sepulveda Blvd., where Fahey, Hite and Wilson began to hang out at and eventually jam with Vestine’s band. The result was “Canned Heat,” named after an old blues song about winos drinking “Sterno,” a wood alcohol based cooking fuel. While all this was going on John would sit with some of Henry’s friends, who included a well dressed black man who introduced himself as Jimi Hendrix. John said that Hendrix’s eyes would follow every move that Vestine made when playing his guitar. Soon after that “On The Road Again,” was released and the band became pop stars. By 1969 Henry (The Sunflower) Vestine left the band and then so did a disillusioned Al Wilson who died of a brain aneurism in 1970.

Over the decades Vestine floated in and out of Canned heat, for which he is primarily known, until his death in Paris, France October 20, 1997. Although Fahey felt that Vestine’s true boogie style was never completely manifested in “Canned Heat,” he did feel that the best thing that Henry contributed to “Canned Heat,” was his guitar duets with Alan Wilson. In the early 1980’s, around the same time that Fahey migrated to Oregon, so did Vestine, who did it to be with a woman and to escape the insanity of L.A.. He was living in Eugene, Oregon, about 70 miles South on the I-5 Freeway from Salem. About two months before Henry died he invited John to come see his aquarium filled with Coelecant fish, just like he told Fahey that he would one day have, back in the 1950’s when they were teenagers in Takoma Park, Maryland. A few weeks later Henry called John and told him that he had a dream about Alan Wilson, who told him that they would soon see each other again and he wanted John to have his Coelecants. When Fahey took possession of Vestine’s Coelecants he declared his union with them to be symbolic of Henry’s Union with Alan.

All information in this article is based on a combination of firsthand experience with John Fahey, recorded interviews by this writer, “How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life” and a tape of the “Henry Vestine Memorial Rehearsal,”    dated 10/22/97

Samantha Fish Concert Review

16 Jul DSC_0198


Samantha Fish Concert Review

By: Bob Gersztyn

All Photography Copyright By Bob Gersztyn



I know that I did a blog where I declared myself  no longer a member of the elite cadry that comprise the army of rock photographers and journalists that perpetuate the rock & roll myth. However, after one is addicted to the art of that craft, it becomes impossible to kick the impulsive habit, especially if it doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t require a photo pass. Such was the case on Thursday night, July 7, 2016, at Monteith River Park, in Albany, Oregon, where they’ve been having free summer concerts for the past 30 years. This was the first week of the season, and Samantha Fish was the featured act. I wasn’t familiar with her, so I Googled some of her Utube videos and was impressed, so I made plans to attend the concert, since Albany is less than 20 miles by the Interstate 5 freeway

It wasn’t supposed to rain, but this is Oregon and we live in the valley surrounded by rain forests, so you never know when some precipitation might form. Fortunately it was the fine mist type of rain rather than the torrential deluge brand. I invited one of my friends who has a green thumb and grows cannabis to accompany me. He’s accompanied me to many of the concerts that I’ve shot over the past 22 years and since recreational weed is now legal in Oregon we enjoy the events with much less paranoia.


It seems that the rainy weather kept a huge crowd away, so when we arrived there were places available in every location, including right in front of the stage. Since I didn’t know for sure whether the crowd would augment or not I set my blanket on a place directly in front of the stage, left of center, as I faced it. I almost always chose this location if I was limited in movement, since most guitarists are right handed and this gives you the best angle for photographs. I still wasn’t sure whether anyone would hassle me for shooting with a telephoto zoom in front of the stage. At first I shot judiciously, but as it became apparent that nobody cared what I did, I began to shoot nonstop, especially since it doesn’t cost any more to shoot 1000 images than it does 10. Of course you have to edit everything, but with an excessive amount to go through, you can just pick the ones that jump out at you, to reduce your inventory.



When we first arrived there was an opening duo performing, as I spread my blanket and place my unopened umbrella, monopod and camera bag on it. I took a few shots of the duo and then put my camera in my bag, which I slung over my shoulder and went to the lawn chair section where my friend was sitting on top of a bucket with a 2″ thick piece of foam rubber. Next to him was another bucket with foam that he set up for me. I told him that I would spend most of my time on the blanket, where there was room for him, but would alternately come back. He said that his back couldn’t handle sitting on a blanket like in the old days.



The duo began at 7:00 PM and played for half an hour, then the stage was set up for “The Samantha Fish Band,” which began at 7:45 PM. and played some fantastic blues and rock for the next 2 hours. To say that Samantha Fish is phenomenal is an understatement, but in the age instantaneous recognition on the internet, there is still nothing like a live show. Her guitar playing ability rivals any male counterpart, from Buddy Guy to Joe Bonnamassa, while her crystalline vocals are permeated with influences ranging from blues and rock divas, to country and folk queens.



As soon as Fish began to perform I returned to my blanket, which was now completely covered with rain drops, that hadn’t soaked in yet, so I shook them off and opened my umbrella. I put the open umbrella down on the blanket and put my camera bag and monopod under it, to keep them dry, as the mist continued to condense on the ground. At first I took my camera out for a song and then put it away, until people were coming up and taking photos using everything from  cell phones to telephoto lenses bigger than mine. By that time I was taking as many photos as I wanted and even used the repeat shoot mode that was like the old film motor drives, but instead of costing $10.00 to $15.00 to shoot a 36 exposure roll of slide film in 6 seconds, there was no cost to shoot 360 a minute or even 3,600 images in an hour.

Samantha Fish is in her early twenties and hails from the city that Leiber & Stoller immortalized in their 1950’s R&B hit, Kansas City; “They got some crazy little women there…”  “The Samantha Fish Band,” took the stage by storm as a power trio consisting of Samantha Fish on lead guitar and lead vocals, along with drummer Go-Go Ray and Chris Alexander playing bass guitar. They performed a 2 hour set that covered songs from all 3 of her albums, released on the Ruff Record label. “Runaway” and “Black Wind Howlin’,” came out in 2011 and 2013 respectively and were produced by blues producer and musician Mike Zito. Her most recent release is “Wild Heart,” which came out in 2015 and was produced by Luther Dickenson, lead guitarist and singer of the “North Mississippi All Stars. His father, the late Jim Dickenson was a legendary record producer and musician, that worked with everyone from Bob Dylan to the “Rolling Stones.”



After a few numbers the crowd was on its feet dancing and at one point an excited fan, dressed in biker leathers ran up to the stage and handed Samantha a rose that she accepted as he danced in front of the stage. Her guitar playing was phenomenal, as she continually switched instruments for each song. She alternated between 2 fender electric guitars with a fish decorating the top and what looked like a red cigar box banjo sized instrument made from a one gallon can from a flammable liquid, along with occasionally using an acoustic guitar. Her voice was as polished as her guitar playing as it soared into the stratosphere. There was supposed to be a fireworks display immediately after the concert ended, so after the encore Fish was asked to perform one more song, before the fireworks show began. She willingly obliged and asked the crowd if they were ready to have some fun and then the band began the intro to “Black Sabbath’s” anti war song “War Pigs,” as Fish began to sing:


“Generals gathered in their masses,

just like witches at black masses…” War Pigs


By the time that the band concluded their sonic pyrotechnics, the sky lit up with the visual counterpart.



Ted Nugent

23 Jun

Ted Nugent Collage


Ted Nugent

By: Bob Gersztyn

Ted Nugent 2007

I’ve seen Ted Nugent perform live 2 different times in the course of my life. The first was on Labor Day 1969, a mere 2 weeks after the Woodstock festival, when the Amboy Dukes played on the porch of the Detroit Public Library. I had only been going out with my future wife Kathy, for 3 weeks when I took her to the concert. It was the time period when the band’s hit “Journey to the Center of the Mind,” was still being played by the Motor City’s  radio stations.  It was in rotation on Detroit’s new cutting edge underground FM radio station WABX. They sponsored many of the free concerts that took place at various venues, like this one.

Nugent crowd

The Nuge

Ted Nugent Silverton, Oregon 2007

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The band played on the porch at the top of the steps of the library, while we stood at the foot of the stairs watching “Terrible Ted” wailing on his guitar as he religiously reproduced the guitar solo from the band’s hit song, “Journey To the Center of the Mind,” just like on the record. It always blew my mind the way that musicians were able to reproduce a song, note for note and do it for a whole concert day after day. At the time the drug drenched Hippie culture became part of mainstream America, while the U.S. was embroiled in the war in Vietnam, and anti-war demonstrators protested against it, in the streets and in song.

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Ted Nugent Silverton Gardens 2007

In the Summer of 1971, I moved to Los Angeles, California and got married. I completely left my Hippie and rock & roll past to become a born again Jesus Freak, got married and eventually began a family, as I studied the Bible, history, photography and theology. One day in 1975  as I was driving home from my classes at L.I.F.E. Bible college, to become a Protestant Pentecostal minister, I was turning the dial on the AM radio and I heard a mesmerizing guitar solo that I let play as I drove.  After the tune ended the radio announcer said that it was “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent.  I was pleasantly surprised, as I was with the popularity of other Michigan artists, like, Grand Funk Railroad, Bob Seegerm Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop. Over the next 3 decades I heard the Nuge’s hits on the radio and P.A. systems of places that I frequented. At the same time I was later surprised to hear Nugent deny that he used drugs during the 1960’s. When I heard the denial it disappointed me, just like when Bill Clinton said that he never inhaled. I had been a drug user, taking over 100 LSD and mescaline trips during a period of nearly 3 years. So I was disappointed, since I thought that Ted was an enlightened inner space astronaut communicating his experience through music.

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Ted Nugent pointing 2007

Ted Nugent became known as the “Motor City Madman,” and by the 21st century was also known as a right wing conservative Republican, who was even friends with ultra conservative radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh. At the same time he’s sold more than 40 million albums and performed in excess of 6500 concerts during the past 53 years. Nugent began his professional career in 1963, when his band the Lourds opened up for the Supremes at Cobo Hall, in Detroit. Today he spends as much time, if not more, hunting, than  he does playing music. Firearms and archery equipment are the ying of Nugent’s guitar’s yang.

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Ted Nugent Oregon 2007

So 37 years later, on a hot summer night  in August 2007, when the Nuge appeared in Silverton, Oregon, about 25 miles from my home in Salem, I decided that I wanted to go see him. At the time I was working as a freelance journalist for a few different publications that I covered music and religion for. So I applied for a press pass and ticket and I got them. When I arrived at the venue, the stage had weapons strewn around from a 50 Caliber tripod mounted machine gun to small caliber rifles, along with camouflage netting, a giant grenade and a skull.

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Ted Nugent Website:

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I shot the concert using film, in a Nikon 8008 body, with both a telephoto and wide angle zoom, with both a roll of Fujicolor 200 ISO, as well as a roll of infra-red color slide film, since the show began when it was still light out. Alex Winston, a Detroit, Michigan female singer was opening up with her band before “Terrible Ted” took the stage. The outdoor venue at the Silverton Oregon Gardens was filled to capacity while the sun descended into the horizon while Nugent ripped through his repertoire, churning out hits ranging from “Journey to the Center of the Mind” and “Stranglehold” to “Wango Tango” and “Cat Scratch Fever,” along with everything else afterwards and in between. By the time the encore was over and the lights came on, a couple thousand exhausted and sweat drenched fans trudged back to their vehicles to make the journey back to their homes in the beautiful Pacific Northwest’s Willamette Valley.

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Alex Winston:

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