Friday, July 27, 2007

Hippiefest: Nostalgia for the Future

When we arrived at the Seaside Summer Concert Series, I immediately sent a text to my kids who were at home recovering from day camp and summer jobs: "At HippieFest. Must be a mistake, everyone here is old."

The free Seaside Concert Series at Asser Levy park featured "Hippiefest", an excellent if unfortunately titled, creatively packaged, rolling festival of star acts from the wonder years: Felix Cavaliere's Rascals, The Turtles with Flo and Eddie, Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone leading The Zombies, Wings' Denny Laine, Melanie, and Country Joe McDonald. http://www.brooklynconcerts.com/hippiefest.html I hate the word "nostalgia" (the 60s and 70s weren't a fantasy, it was a period of struggle and change that had worldwide ramifications after all) but it was good to be at an event where "60s" wasn't someone's looming birthday.

Country Joe, especially, who also served as host, reminded us that the Sixties weren't just about the music and the funky clothes, bringing a strong thread of political consciousness to the proceedings with songs about "Support the Troops" and "Save the Whale..Save Ourselves". Melanie, who reported that she had just arrived from "Brooklyn, Maine", strong of voice, worked through some of her hits and did an excellent cover of Ruby Tuesday by the Stones. Accompanied by her son on guitar she said "I needed a sideman so I grew my own". Denny Laine, who got things off to a rousing start with Wings' "Band on the Run" , answered a call of "Where's Paul?" with "Paul Who?, but clearly the affection for Paul (and Linda) is there..

To the Mrs and me, the Zombies featuring Rod Argent on cosmic keyboards and soaring vocals by Colin Blunstone, really set the crowd in motion with "Time of the Season" and other hits plus Argent's anthemic "Hold Your Head Up". They were rather awesome. The singer noted that Brooklyn held special affection for them as they first appeared in America in 1964 (ahem) at the a Murray the K show at the Brooklyn Fox http://cinematreasures.org/theater/602/.

The Turtles, featuring the delightfully manic Flo and Eddie (Mark Vollman and Howard Kaylan), reminded us of why, post-Turtles, Flo and Eddie fit in so well as vocalists for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. Their great humor and energy made their brief set seem even briefer. The show closed with Felix Cavaliere's Rascals. Cousin Brucie, formerly of CBS-FM now on Sirius Satellite, who served as series host Marty Markowitz's musical alter ego, noted that the Rock n Roll Hall of Famer Cavaliere had recently become a grandpa. Oy-vey, maybe so, but close your eyes, and he is still that soulful keyboardist and singer who created those rock radio classics : "Groovin'," and "People Got to be Free".

The series in its 29th year of free shows with major acts is in itself a work of art (produced by the Slope's own Debby Garcia http://onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.typepad.com/the_park_slope_100/ ) Beep Markowitz who created and has hosted the event in white dinner jacket & jeans for lo these many years, holds court, thanking sponsors, welcoming show biz and political luminaries (including, last nite, Sid Bernstein, who brought the Beatles to America in 1964, and was in da house) along with other neighbors and just plain folks. I also saw Sopranos' Steven Schirippa (aka"Bobby Baccala") doing a little spot coverage for someone with a microphone. Still, at Seaside, it is Marty's world and we just get to live in it. Without getting into the inevitable heat that surrounds Markowitz (he is a politican after all), the free concert series at Coney and Wingate Field are cool institutions and 29 years isn't a bad legacy. But last night, the 1960s took center stage and reminded us that, at least while the boomer demographics are still prime, the zeitgeist was with us and the music will never die. Iraq may have replaced Viet Nam, but freedom and most of all love may still hold the key..

Peace Out.

--Brooklyn Beat

Note: This post also appeared at OnlytheBlogKnowsBrooklyn.com

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