Jeff Spevak previews 'Woodstock ROCs,' a tribute to the 1969 concert

Aug 7, 2019

Fifty years after Jimi Hendrix’ “The Star-Spangled Banner” brought a close to the three days of rain, mud and 400,000 people that were Woodstock, those sounds and images remain as iconic symbols of an era of peace, love and civil unrest. Rochester plays host to one of many tributes to the 1969 event with Woodstock ROCs, an outdoor concert Friday, August 9,  at Lovin’ Cup Bistro and Brews, 300 Park Point Drive near Rochester Institute of Technology in Henrietta.

More than four dozen area musicians will present the highlights of Woodstock over the course of the four-hour show, including Dee Ponder, Brian Lindsay, Steve Lyons, Champagne Brown, Connie Deming and Tegan Ward, representing local bands such as Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Junkyardfieldtrip, The Mambo Kings, Prime Time Funk and Mitty & the Followers.

The night closes with Haewa’s tribute to Hendrix indoors at Lovin’ Cup starting at 11p.m.; Hendrix closed Woodstock with a two-hour performance.

The acts included The Grateful Dead, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, Sly & the Family Stone and Country Joe McDonald & the Fish with the infamous “Fish Chant.” History seems to overlook the fact that the sock-hop rockers Sha Na Na were also there, going on right before Hendrix; Sha Na Na’s performance will likely not make the cut Friday, but the band can take solace in having gone on to a long career of playing state fairs across the nation. 

The gates open at 5 p.m., with portions of the $5 admission going to Veterans Outreach Center. Food and drink vendors will be on hand. A VIP pass, available for $25, includes the concert, stage-side view, food (including a taco bar dinner), a private bar and private bathroom.

Fans of historical verisimilitude will be pleased to know that, if it rains, the show will go on.

Keyboardist Willy O’Reilly, who was in charge of putting the tribute together, explains the philosophy of focusing on the music, rather than the politics of the day.

Jeff Spevak, a cultural arts contributor to WXXI, is a Rochester-based writer. His web site is jeffspevak.com.