started booking bands in 1986 and have been hitting the bars on a weekly basis
looking for work for our various blues - 60's groups. Sometime in 2005 I
had a compulsive thought to have a Woodstock Tribute concert with local Long
Island bands. We held our first Retrofest on June 25 2005 at the Blue Parrot
in Massapequa. About that time I started feeling empty with what was going on
at work (call it a mid life crisis!) and started questioning about if there
was a way to do something more meaningful that can make a difference.
Seeing how many wonderful people were using their gigs to help the victims of
the Katrina Hurricane, my band and I decided to turn our next Retrofest
into a fundraiser. From that point on (we are up to Retrofest 24), each
event raises money for a different charity. Most of them are related
to helping children who are suffering from illness.
of the things that emotionally have been so uplifting is to see the faces of
older musicians get back on the stage and play the music they loved so much as
youth. As these bands and individuals get involved in the project, they feel
less marginalized and less jaded
by the difficult bar scene that has made it harder and harder for players to
music is a tribute to the great Pop Festivals of the 60's and 70's. With each
attempt at tributing Woodstock, we try to come closer and closer to the
original arrangements performed in August 69, often following the same order
of the set lists (A subset of course!) As
word gets out, some of the original performers have worked with or volunteered
to work with us such as Ira
and Maxine Stone, who played with Bert Sommer on the first day of
Woodstock, Jimmy Kunes of Cactus, and David Bennet Cohen of Country Joe and
the Fish. And thanks to Facebook, we have also been in contact with Nancy
Nevins (Sweetwater) , Melanie, Country Joe McDonald, Steve Knight (Mountain) and
Mark Naftalin (Paul Butterfield Blues Band).
goals of our Retrofests are as follows:
help revitalize the great genre of music from the great Pop festivals of the late
60's - early 70's
use music as a vehicle for doing good
To create opportunities for musicians young and old to relive the genre and
get back on the stage.
a one by one basis,
the concerts have yet to be big fundraisers. Our best event raised a little
over $3000, most average $1200; however, collectively, we have raised over $45,000 since 6/2005. This is done as of now with a zero budget, and no paid publicity. The
only expense we have is paying the house band members $60 a man to work a 6
hour event and share their back line with all the other bands; often that cost
is covered by the bar or sponsors. Thus, the energy and enthusiasm of all the
musicians allows us to create something wonderful out of nothing.
has long been my dream to team up with others and take these events to a
larger level. This means running the event out on a farm, a campground, etc
with much more PR and better resources. The show would run a full day, covering
one act from Woodstock after the other. Every band and performer would be
represented, so when a band could not be sampled it we would play a recording
of it. The event would bring together people who had been at Woodstock to
share their experiences together with those who were too young to have been
there. All bands would perform for free, just as done at Monterey Pop in 1967.
Hopefully we would be blessed with the appearances of some performers from the
original event, just like at the reunions done at Bethel over the past
decades. In 2010 we came a step closer to out dream, as many of the Retrofest
performers had a chance to perform live at Yasgurs Farm.
hope you help us spread the word and join us at our next Retrofest!