During our time together in Germany we were blessed to have so many friends and musicians pass through our doors – some stayed and became part of the fabric of our lives and others left as unceremoniously as they came , leaving a part of themselves behind.
Nico Scholtens – Friend, Musician, Manager
Having survived our first major crisis by finding a place to live, we now faced an even starker reality. We had no gigs. Not only that, we didn’t know the culture, the language or even where we might begin looking for work. Enter Nico Scholtens. Nico, originally from Holland, was fluent in German, was himself a talented musician (saxophone), was around our age, and was, apparently, ready for a challenge (managing an undisciplined group of American hippies could not have been easy). He became our manager. We surely would have starved (okay, that’s a bit dramatic) if it weren’t for Nico’s determined efforts to find us work. His connections in his native Holland paved the way for Sweet Smoke and by the time the band dissolved, we had played in clubs and concert venues in every one of Holland’s eleven provinces. Today, Nico and his wife Salome run a very successful winery in the scenic hills of Bavaria.
Barberina Kuhn Schwartz (Puppa) – Barberina met Sweet Smoke in her native Germany at an early age. When she married Jay, the band’s drummer, in a Hindu wedding ceremony in the fields of her parents’ home, she became, quite literally, part of the Sweet Smoke family. Although Jay and she eventually went their separate ways they still maintain a special friendship to this day. Barberina created the album cover for the band’s Darkness to Light album and played flute on the title cut. Today she and her husband Alan live in the Hudson Valley of Upstate New York.
Jeff Dershin– Jeff, Andy’s brother, was the keyboard player with the band on our Darkness to Light album. Jeff was, and is, a talented songwriter as well as an accomplished piano player. Jeff lives in central Pennsylvania and continues to play the piano and write music.
Rick Greenberg Rasa – Rick, originally from Washington DC, played guitar and sitar with us and is a featured performer on our third and last album recorded live at the Musikhochshule in Berlin in 1974. Rick brought to the band his love of Indian music and continues to play and perform his brand of sensory raga as the founding member of Starseed. Additionally, a variety of neophile activities can be found at Rick’s website www.pelorian.com.
Rochus Kuhn – Rochus played cello and violin on our Darkness to Light album and was a dear, trusted friend who left this earth way too soon. He was the eldest son of the Kuhn family who took us in after our arrival in Germany and without whom we would never have survived and thrived.
John Classi – John played percussion during our live performances. His unique approach to sound effects can be heard on our 1974 live album recorded in Berlin. When John wasn’t touring with the band, he kept the home fires burning during our absence. He was last seen managing Brookstone on 5th Avenue in New York.
Marty Rosenberg – The liner notes on our live album will tell you that Marty played percussion and tamboura. He did so much more than that. Marty was a friend long before Sweet Smoke dreamed of going to Europe. He travelled with the band before we settled in Germany. Once there he became a valued member of our extended family – tending our garden, helping us move our equipment and contributing in so many selfless ways.
Howie Rubin – Like Marty, Howie was a friend long before Sweet Smoke became a reality. Our relationship with him goes way back to Brooklyn in the mid-sixties. In his Sweet Smoke life, Howie had two main jobs. He was our sound man at concerts working the mixing board. His other, more difficult job was keeping track of our money and trying to get us to act like responsible human beings – which we clearly were not. In 1994, Howie and his wife Elle, who he met in Holland during our stay there, founded the Koala Tea Company, Australia’s first organic tea company.