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Maria Muldaur
Maria Muldaur

History of Boston Rock
     History of Boston Rock & Roll - Chapter 21 - The Early 70s

Times were lean in Beantown during the early 1970's. Most newsworthy acts of Boston origin made their mark elsewhere.

The Grossest Rock Band in History.

Five Mass Art students and a pair from Salem State, while rehearsing comedy skits in their Salem abode, discovered they also had another common thread - they loved 50s rock n' roll, country and western music, Dixieland, vaudeville, Sesame St. and best of all, Russian dirges.

On February 4,1971, the band GNP (Gross National Product) debuted at a free concert at Salem State featuring Jonathan Edwards . A Boston debut soon followed at the Fenway Theatre in which they opened for The Mothers of Invention. The Boston Phoenix reported that when the set finished, the crowd wouldn't stop screaming for more, even after an emcee took the stage and announced that if they didn't cool it there wouldn't be time for Zappa and Co.

The spring and summer of 1971 featured a 3-month SRO gig at the Unicorn. GNP was armed with a 248-bulbflashing sign, that caught the attention of Metromedia. P-Flaps (female genitalia?) and Low Blows (you tell me!) was a fine piece of raunch 'n' roll, but it seems "the label was more intent on throwing $10,000 promotional parties on irrelevant decadence than doing field work to broaden awareness of the group," wrote David Bieber for the Real Paper in 1973. The band soon disappeared. The band was Tom Dempsey (trumpet, lead bee), Doug Stevens aka Matt Maverick (vocals), Artie Johnson (bass), Joe Botti (drums), Tony Bertolini (reeds), Gary Rutstein (gtr.) and John Press (gtr.).


Andy Kulberg (flute, guitar, string bass, piano), from Buffalo, New York, arrived in Boston in the early sixties to attend Boston University and the Boston Conservatory of Music. He then enrolled in Music Studies at N.Y.U., where he become a member of the Blues Project. The Blues Project who along with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band helped start the American Blues Revival of the late sixties, also featured Al Kooper on keys and drummer Roy Blumenfeld. The Project, too, frequented the Boston club circuit. At the tail-end of their existence, the band moved out to Marin County, CA, where they disbanded.

Andy Kulberg and Roy Blumenfeld stuck together and began auditioning potential musicians for the Kulberg dream of fusing folk, rock 'n' roll and classical into one Seatrain. The auditions began in late 1968 and it was over a year later when the following line-up jelled. Richard Greene, originally from Beverly Hills, split back to the West Coast after the Kweskin Jug Band dissolved. He ran into Kulberg in San Francisco and agreed to lend his virtuoso violin services.

Richard Greene met Earth Opera's Peter Rowan back when the two were members of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. News of Earth Opera's demise filtered out to California and Kulberg dropped a dime (to coin the phrase; it would have been $3.40) to Rowan, who made the journey west. At the turn of the decade, Seatrain made their way to the Boston Tea Party and were joined on stage by a member of the Boston production of HAIR, Lloyd Baskin. Not at this show but at a subsequent (May, 1970) show at the T Party, Baskin was hired. In June of 1970 Blumenfeld was replaced by Canadian skin man, Larry Atamuniak. The ban toured across the US of A to rave reviews and was snatched up by Capitol Records, who flew the band to England to record. The self- titled debut spawned the #49 hit 13 Questions, which peaked in April of '71. Reviewers compared the LP to The Band. Their second album Marblehead Messenger, after the North Shore newspaper, was abandoned mid- way by producer George Martin. When the pieces were finally put together, only Kulberg and Baskin remained. Greene, growing restless with the genre, left to pursue a solo folk performance. Rowan returned to his blue- grass roots and put together Old and In The Way with David Grisman of Earth Opera and Jerry Garcia of the Dead. Their 1973 live LP on Rounder featured Rowan's Panama Red. Kulberg and Baskin recruited, among others: Bill Elliot of Cambridge, whose work included Jonathan Edwards, Orphan, Martin Mull and Peter's brothers Chris and Loren aka the Rowan Brothers. The band moved from Capitol to Warner Bros. and recorded the LP, Watch which didn't do as well as the previous one. By 1974, the band was over.

Maria Muldaur

Richard Greene's fellow Kweskin refugee, Maria Grazia Rosa Domenica D'Amato Muldaur, who had married Kweskin member Geoff Muldaur circa 1964, spent 6 years in Cambridge, MA. with the Jug Band. While Greene fled to the West Coast, Geoff and Maria stayed put and recorded two LPs for Reprise - Pottery Pie and Sweet Potatoes. Personal problems ensued and a publicized affair between Greene and Muldaur resulted in Geoff joining Paul Butterfield's Better Days and Maria splitting to the hills of Woodstock NY. Laying relatively low, she worked with both Wendy Waldman (she wrote Mad Mad Me and Cold Back One Me for Maria's 1974 LP), and Peter Yarrow (who worked with Capitol in the mid 70's) and The Traums on Rounder.

In a truly bizarre turn of events, Maria bumped into Warner Brothers Mo Ostin while she was shopping at NYC's Brooks Bros. and they decided to put together the Maria Muldaur solo album. Over a decade in the business, a marriage and a child, and a phobia of flying, Maria Muldaur hit the studios in 1973 with the Cambridge Boston all-star alumni of Richard Greene (Kweskin, Seatrain) Bill Keith (Kweskin, Orphan, Jonathan Edwards ) Ry Cooder, who did time in Cambridge in the early 60's, David Grisman (Earth Opera, Old and in The Way) and a multitude of other rock legends such as Klaus Voormann (John Lennon) and David Lindlay (everyone). Paul Nichtern of David Bromberg provided the novelty ditty Midnight at the Oasis (#6, 1974). Critical acclaim followed with her U.S. tour. Her live band featured Jeffrey Gutcheon, Cambridge folkie and also a respected architect, on the ivorys.


Sha Na Na formed at Columbia University in New York in 1969 to perform at a nostalgia dance. Six of its ten members hailed from Boston. Lenny Baker was from Whitman, MA and played in the early sixties with The Pilgrims, a Surf band. Dave Chico Ryan vocalist was from Arlington, MA. Screamin Scott Simon (keys and bass), John Jock Marcellino (drums), Johnny Contardo (keys) and Dan McBride (vocals) all were of Boston descent. Their name was borrowed from the 1958 hit, Get a Job by the Sillouettes, which contained the back-up doo-wop Sha-Na-Na. building a solid reputation in the Columbia University area and at the Fillmore East, the boys found themselves at Woodstock where they performed a legendary set decked out in gold lame suites and hair full of grease. An up-and-coming label Kama Sutra, picked them up.

Rock N Roll Is Here To Stay (1969), the first studio experience included David Bromberg as a session musician but it wasn't enough to help the act transfer to vinyl. Not only would capturing their dynamic performance on record prove to be a problem in their career but also the fact that they were satisfied doing cover material lent a hand in their failure to have a hit record, ever!

Sha Na Na (1971), The Night is Still Young (1972), featuring their 1st original, Bounce in Your Buggy, Golden Age of Rock n Roll (1973), From the Streets of New York (1974), a live LP from Central Park and Hot Sox (1975) all failed to produce jack shit except Top 40 of the Lord from the Sha Na Na LP reached #84 in August 1971.

In April 1974n fellow SNN member Vinnie Taylor overdosed on heroin and the same year Screamin' Scott suffered a nervous breakdown.

In 1977 they finally reached the public with their nationally syndicated television show. Lenny Baker today lives on Martha's Vineyard and operates an appliance store as a hobby.

This article originally appeared in The Beat in 1985
(c) Charles William White III

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