A half-century after Woodstock, the Green is awash in tributes at Morristown Jazz & Blues Fest

Davy Knowles at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Guitar ace Davy Knowles closed Saturday’s Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival with a song by a band that performed at Woodstock exactly five decades earlier.

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.

Bernard Allison at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The Frank Vignola Trio dedicated its set to jazz guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli, who at age 93 sat out the festival after many years on its stage.

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.

Antoinette Montague steps out at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Rob Paparozzi at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

Steve Katz, who played at Woodstock with Blood Sweat and Tears, at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“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.

A.C. Lincoln taps with Antoinette Montague Experience at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

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.

Mayor Tim Dougherty and festival co-promoter Don Jay Smith at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

“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 & LOVE: Frank and Susanne Chiaverini of Randolph at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“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.

MORE FROM THE 2019 MORRISTOWN JAZZ & BLUES FESTIVAL

Davy Knowles at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Davy Knowles at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Davy Knowles, a native of the Isle of Man, sings at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Davy Knowles at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Bernard Allison at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Bernard Allison sings to large crowd at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Rob Paparozzi sings with his grandsons at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Swing dancing at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
GET DOWN! Vinny Raniolo, Frank Vignola and Gary Mazzaroppi at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
GETTING THEIR KICKS: Vinny Raniolo, Frank Vignola and Gary Mazzaroppi at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
DJANGO TWO-FINGERED SALUTE: Vinny Raniolo and Frank Vignola at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Early crowd at the 2019 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

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