His band’s roaring cover of Almost Cut My Hair by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young capped a warm August day on the Morristown Green that was dripping with tributes.
Video: Davy Knowles nods to Woodstock:
The Bernard Allison Group honored Allison’s late father, renowned blues guitarist Luther Allison, who would have turned 80 on Saturday.
Antoinette Montague and her band saluted the 40th anniversary of Newark jazz station WBGO, and paid homage to African American musical greats, from Louis Armstrong to Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Aretha Franklin.
And Rob Paparozzi and his Juke Joint bandmates nodded to Woodstock with covers of Canned Heat, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Blood Sweat & Tears, groups that played at the muddy 1969 festival in upstate New York.
Paparozzi even introduced Steve Katz, a member of Blood Sweat & Tears from the Woodstock gig, who sang a couple of numbers on acoustic guitar on Saturday.
“It wasn’t any fun…for most of the musicians,” Katz said of Woodstock.
“We were in and out. We went to the Holiday Inn. They drove us backstage. We all got totally wrecked. Got onstage, it was drizzling, which was totally uncomfortable, and then we had to be in L.A. the next day.”
Somehow, Katz still remembers the wrecked part pretty vividly.
“I thought I was playing upside down,” he said with a laugh.
For the 400,000 or so adventurous souls who flocked to Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, NY, Woodstock was a soggy four-day affair.
Morristown’s festival, a free annual event begun nine years ago, attracted about 2,500 people, by police edtimates, over 10 hours on Saturday to a two-acre town square where George Washington once trod.
“Don’t take the brown aspirin,” co-promoter Don Jay Smith told the Morristown audience, in a joking reference to the brown acid at Woodstock.
Last year was a partial rainout in Morristown. Closers Bernard Allison and Davy Knowles got invited back for a do-over, and the crowd’s enthusiastic response suggested it was worth the wait.
“Davy put an exclamation point on the festival. It keeps getting better and better,” said Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, adding he was grateful to the weather gods.
Dougherty launched the event in 2010 with help from promoters Don and Linda Smith, a slew of volunteers, and sponsors who underwrite the $80,000 annual cost. The idea is to show off the downtown and its restaurants, at no cost to taxpayers.
The mayor, who rebounded from a heart attack in June, said he was delighted by this year’s historic theme.
“I love the Woodstock spin on the festival,” Dougherty said.
“Peace and love. It’s like Woodstock,” said Randolph realtor Frank Chiaverini, who enjoyed the Morristown music fest with his wife Susanne and friends Barry and Ruth Coopersmith of Morris Township.
“Amazing,” said Sue Ricardelli of Morris Plains.
“I love music of all kinds. Whether it’s jazz, blues or rock, it brings people together. For tonight to be 50 years from Woodstock made it more special. Fifty years ago, people were doing the same thing.”
Stay tuned for more videos and photos.