Summer of Love | VailDaily.com

Summer of Love

Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to the Daily

In the summer of 1969, about half a million hippies walked miles, past cars parked on the main road, to Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, New York. They trampled fences yet somehow maintained a peaceful vibe all weekend — despite the rain delays and deep mud — to spin and dance and trip to some of the best bands worldwide. These 500,000 people witnessed (though most details are fuzzy for most) the largest, most profound weekend in musical history.

Woodstock, an event that literally defined a generation, has reverberated beyond those free-love, long-haired youngsters into new generations of classic rock, folk and country admirers — those who wished they could have been alive to tell the story of the Summer of Love but still crank up the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Santana, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

On Saturday and Sunday, those hybrid hippies, peace-loving friends and, mainly, live music lovers will experience a reenactment of some of the best music performed at Woodstock — without the mud and the (let's face it) overwhelming smell of dirty hippies.

Cover Rock Festival

Promoter Tom Dobrez, of Cool Radio LLC, brings the nation's best tribute bands together in the mountains for the first of what he hopes to be many Cover Rock Festivals with various themes: This year, Summer of Love; perhaps next year, the British Invasion.

Though Cover Rock Festival doesn't include every Woodstock band, it does begin and end with the same songs: Janis Joplin's "Freedom" and Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner." In between, Dobrez and the bands present the best of 1969's Summer of Love weekend.

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"The level of talent is at a ridiculous level," Dobrez said, and he's not kidding.

Take The Who Show — Saturday night's headliner — for instance. When the tribute band performed for the original members of The Who (minus Keith Moon), the legendary (but now-deceased) bassist John Entwistle said: "I remember when I was that fast," guitarist Pete Townshend said, "I feel like I'm looking at myself" and Roger Daltrey said, "You make me want to sing those songs again." Quite a stamp of approval.

"These musicians, in re-creating (the bands) have given such care and attention," Dobrez said. "They search for the same equipment, study 'how did they make that sound' and study films, then (practice) set lists. They really try to capture the spirit of the bands."

So much so that Dobrez said fans of the various original bands "show up with their arms crossed and leave dancing."

Who are you?

Members of The Who Show grew up as childhood as Who fans. Mike Harris spent hours in front of his mirror (which didn't shatter) as a kid, imitating Daltrey.

"God gifted him with an amazing voice," said band founder France DiCarlo. "Those are the guys who love (The Who), and those are the guys I looked for when I put the band together."

DiCarlo started a Who tribute band in New York in the 1980s and then went on to create original bands. But when his last original band broke up, he revived The Who tribute band, branding it The Who Show.

And what a show it is. Saturday's gig includes laser lights, but that's nothing compared to "Daltrey's" golden locks and fringed vest; "Townshend's" windmill-arm guitar playing; "Entwistle's" dexterous fingering; and, of course, "Moon's" wild antics and raw emotion.

As Entwistle, Jim Kennelly has been hailed as the world's greatest by Who tribute bands around the world, DiCarlo said.

"He's a John Entwistle freak," he said. "(Entwistle's) like a god to him. … (Kennelly's) the only one who plays the thunder in the bass and leaves audiences with their jaws dropped."

Moon's manic, and sometimes-strained antics, come through naturally for DiCarlo.

"He was always my favorite drummer growing up," he said. "Keith Moon was solid in his own right. He always kept the backbeat with his foot while he rolled around on the toms."

And while DiCarlo bears a resemblance to Moon, he mostly has an innate knack for becoming Moon. As he talks about how drummers can imitate the technique of the originals, he said, "but you can't do that with Keith Moon, because he was so out there and original and in a class by himself. His style was unethical."

DiCarlo nearly about channels Moon, smiling, like Moon did when he was genuinely happy, about pulling a great drum fill right out of his soul and showing strain on his face if he struggles.

"We play exactly the same," he said. "I have the same antics as Keith Moon."

The Who Show will appear on AXS TV's "The World's Greatest Tribute Bands." Other producers are currently filming for an upcoming pilot reality show, and the cameras will be in Avon on Saturday, so get ready to rock.

Fire on the mountain

As part of the Cover Rock Festival, The Original Shakedown Street performs with former Grateful Dead member Tom Constanten, who not only played at Woodstock with The Dead, but also earned his way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Last time Constanten, or TC as he's called, played with Shakedown was about 20 years ago.

Dave Herbert, lead guitar and vocals in the JGB, will also join The Original Shakedown Street for its 30th anniversary. The band began 30 years ago with a love of Dead music and a desire to create a community of Deadheads from Colorado and beyond.

"It was never about being the Grateful Dead," said Shakedown musician Jake Wolf. "It was really about having a good time and creating that vibe in our own Rocky Mountain community."

But what began as open-mic Thursdays in Manitou Springs led to a huge, tight-knit following — "this family mostly in Colorado that were just so near and dear to the band," Wolf says.

"We really loved playing the music, and I had a more accurate Garcia sound than anyone I knew," co-founder Rick Starkey said.

While another form of Shakedown Street exists in Denver, the original members revive the band for special occasions, one of their last being at Carbondale's 2015 Mountain Fair, where they set a record for highest attendance on a Friday night since its inception in 1972.

At the Cover Rock Festival, Wolf blends two of his prides and passions: playing with his "family" from the band and performing on a construction he helped redesign from an $850,000 stage to a $4 million pavilion, which makes it "as beautiful (of views) for the performer as it is for the crowds."

While Starkey promises "a good ol' Shakedown party atmosphere," Wolf points out how having TC there "is a very cosmic (event). The energy level of that alone is immeasurable. … He's as psychedelic as it gets."

Between an original Woodstock performer, a tribute band gaining accolades from original Who members and other tribute bands bringing some of the most legendary artists to life, this weekend's Cover Rock Festival promises to transport fans back to the garden — the Summer of Love, 1969.

Cover Rock Festival schedule

Saturday, June 25

Noon — Back to the Garden 1969 (the Woodstock experience)

2 p.m. — Creedence Revived (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

4 p.m. — Caravanserai (Santana)

6 p.m. — Original Shakedown Street (Grateful Dead)

8 p.m. — The Who Show (The Who)

Sunday, June 26

Noon — Phillip Bauer (Johnny Cash)

2 p.m. — 4×20 (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

4 p.m. — The THE BAND Band (The Band)

6 p.m. — Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)

The festival takes place at the Avon Performance Pavilion beside Nottingham Lake in Harry A. Nottingham Park, 1 W. Benchmark Road in Avon. General admission single-day passes are $55, two-day passes are $89, and VIP two-day passes are $189. Visit http://www.coverrockfestival.com for more information or to purchase passes.

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