Sweet Smoke

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Sweet Smoke
Sweet Smoke 1970 Postcard.jpg
Promotional Postcard for Sweet Smoke (top row: Jay, Jeffery, Mike, Andy, Rochus - bottom row: Steve, Marvin, Nico)
Background information
Origin Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres
Years active 1967 (1967)–1974 (1974)
Labels EMI International
Website sweetsmokeband.com
Past members
  • Andy Dershin
  • Jay Dorfman
  • Marvin Kaminovitz
  • Michael Fontana
  • Steve Rosenstein
  • Jeffrey Dershin
  • Rochus Kuhn
  • Rick Greenberg
  • John Classi
  • Martin Rosenberg

Sweet Smoke were a psychedelic jazz-rock band formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1967. The group moved to Europe in 1969, living in Germany, and performing in Germany, Holland and France until 1974 when the band split up. Initially, some members stayed in Europe, some went to India, but most of the band returned to the United States. Although originating in the U.S., Sweet Smoke is often referred to as a Krautrock band.[1] Noted for their buoyant rhythms, inventive improvisations and complex musical structures, in interviews, the group says their music was influenced by Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane and The Beatles.[2][3]

History[edit]

After their first performances in the U.S. and the Caribbean, the group moved to Germany and formed a commune in a farm house in the village of Hüthum, outside the city of Emmerich, about a kilometer from the border with Holland. The group became well known in the region on and off the stage for their mixture of spirited musical performances combined with their interests in Eastern and Psychedelic philosophies.[4] The original members when they arrived in Germany were Andy Dershin (bass guitar), Michael Fontana (tenor saxophone, alto recorder, vocals, percussion), Jay Dorfman (drums, percussion), Marvin Kaminowitz (lead guitar, vocals) and Victor Sacco (guitar). Victor would soon be replaced by Steve Rosenstein (rhythm guitar, vocals). In 1970 the group was approached by EMI, and they recorded their first LP, Just a Poke with German record producer Konrad "Conny” Plank.

Sweet Smoke in 1974 with their Ford Transit van (from left to right: John, Rick, Andy, Enid, Marvin, Marty, Howie, Diane)

After recording Just a Poke, Sweet Smoke took a year off to travel. Most of the group drove the band’s Ford Transit van overland to India for a spiritual journey in connection with the socio-spiritual group Ananda Marga. The group first learned of the success of Just a Poke, after meeting German tourists in Nepal. They returned to Europe, signed a new recording contract with EMI, and added Jeffrey Dershin (piano, percussion, vocals) as a full-time member. The group recorded their second LP Darkness to Light at EMI studios in Holland in 1973. Later in 1973, Jeffery Dershin returned home to assume his role as a father, Michael Fontana left the group to return to India, and Steve Rosenstein was replaced by Rick Greenberg, aka Rick Rasa (rhythm guitar, sitar, vocals).[2]

Near the end of 1974, the group broke up for the final time. They played their last performance in the concert hall of the music conservatory Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. The concert was recorded by EMI and became the group’s last LP, Sweet Smoke Live.

Personnel[edit]

Line-up Just a Poke (1970)[edit]

  • Andy Dershin – bass guitar
  • Jay Dorfman – drums, percussion
  • Marvin Kaminovitz – lead guitar, vocals
  • Michael Fontana (A.K.A. Michael Paris) – tenor saxophone, alto recorder, vocals, percussion
  • Steve Rosenstein – rhythm guitar, vocals

Line-up Darkness to Light (1973)[edit]

  • Andy Dershin – bass guitar
  • Jay Dorfman – drums, percussion
  • Marvin Kaminovitz – lead guitar, vocals
  • Michael Paris – tenor saxophone, alto recorder, vocals, percussion
  • Steve Rosenstein - Guitar, Violin, Vocals
  • Jeffrey Dershin - piano, percussion, vocals
  • Rochus Kuhn - violin, cello

Line-up Sweet Smoke Live (1974)[edit]

  • Andy Dershin – bass guitar
  • Jay Dorfman – drums, percussion
  • Marvin Kaminovitz – lead guitar, vocals
  • Rick Greenberg (aka Rick Rasa) - rhythm guitar, sitar
  • John Classi - percussion, sound effects
  • Martin Rosenberg - tamboura, percussion

Discography[edit]

Albums

References[edit]

External links[edit]