CLEARWATER — Hippiefest will bring peace, love and happiness to concertgoers Friday, Aug. 16, 7:30 p.m., at the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater.
Tickets start at $45. Call 727-791-7400 or visit www.rutheckerdhall.com.
This year’s concert will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock with performances by Ten Years After, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Vanilla Fudge and Henry Gross.
British blues-rock quartet Ten Years After originally consisted of Alvin Lee, guitar and vocals; Chick Churchill, keyboards; Leo Lyons, bass; and Ric Lee, drums. The group was formed in 1967 and signed to Decca in England. Their second album, the live “Undead,” containing “I'm Going Home,” a six-minute blues workout by the fleet-fingered Alvin Lee, hit the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
Ten Years After's U.S. breakthrough came as a result of their appearance at Woodstock, at which they played a nine-minute version of “I'm Going Home.” Their next album, “Ssssh,” reached the U.S. Top 20 and “Cricklewood Green,” containing the hit single “Love Like a Man,” reached No. 4.
Shortly after they signed with Columbia Records, they moved in a more mainstream pop direction, typified by the gold-selling 1971 album “A Space in Time” and its Top 40 single “I'd Love to Change the World.”
In 2001, Ric Lee was preparing the band’s back catalog for re-release when he discovered the “Live at the Fillmore East” 1970 tapes. He approached Alvin Lee about getting back together to promote the lost album, but Alvin declined. The rest of the band was up for it, though, and together with guitarist Joe Gooch, Ten Years After started touring again.
Alvin Lee died in 2013 at the age of 68 due to complications from a routine surgery. Ten Years After continued to tour after Alvin's death with a lineup featuring Chick Churchill and Ric Lee plus two new members: guitarist/vocalist Marcus Bonfanti and bassist Colin Hodgkinson. This incarnation released its first studio album, “A Sting in the Tale,” in 2017.
Big Brother and the Holding Company — along with bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service — is considered one of the original first wave of great psychedelic bands that came out of San Francisco in the summer of 1965. The embryo that was to become Big Brother and the Holding Company began when Peter Albin, a 21-year-old aspiring folk-blues guitarist, met Sam Andrew, a 23-year-old guitarist who’d been in bands since his teens in Okinawa and had studied languages and philosophy at University of San Francisco and the Sorbonne.
Andrew and Albin began jamming together in the basement/ballroom of an old Victorian mansion in the Haight-Ashbury district. With the help of their friend, future manager and concert promoter Chet Helms, Big Brother and The Holding Company was born. They auditioned several singers but it wasn’t until Chet Helms convinced fellow Texan Janis Joplin to come out to San Francisco that the band was complete.
The Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967 was the moment when Big Brother and Joplin blew open the collective mind of the audience and rose to the top of the rock music hierarchy. In 1968, the band went into the studio and produced the album that many consider their masterpiece and one of the greatest albums of all time: “Cheap Thrills.” The album quickly rose to No. 1 on the charts and stayed there for eight weeks. The band toured extensively all over the United States and Canada and at the end of 1968 Joplin, along with Andrew, left the band.
In 1970 the band re-formed and between 1970 and 1972 Big Brother recorded two albums: “Be a Brother” and “How Hard It Is,” he later being hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as a establishing the fact that Big Brother had become a great band in its own right despite the loss of Joplin.
In 1987, in anticipation of the 20th anniversary the Summer of Love, the four original members decided to re-group and perform again, deciding that their shows would include all of the great music that they created when Joplin was part of the band. Since 1987, Big Brother and the Holding Company has toured continuously in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. The songs from “Cheap Thrills” and their first mainstream album are now a part of rock music history.
Vanilla Fudge was one of the first American groups to infuse psychedelia into a heavy rock sound to create "psychedelic symphonic rock," an eclectic genre which would, among its many offshoots, eventually morph into heavy metal. Although at first the band did not record original material, they were best known for their dramatic, heavy, slowed-down arrangements of contemporary pop songs, which they developed into works of epic proportions.
In 1967, the band, formerly known as The Pigeons, changed their name to Vanilla Fudge and the rest is history. It wasn’t long before the band – featuring organist/vocalist Mark Stein, guitarist/vocalist Vince Martell, drummer/vocalist Carmine Appice and bassist/vocalist Tim Bogert -- was touring extensively behind its covers-heavy, jam-oriented, self-titled debut album, Vanilla Fudge, to expand their fan base. It was released the day after the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album and quickly rose up the charts to No. 4 without the aid of a big hit single.
In 1968, the group performed their heavy-rocking, trippy, psychedelic version of The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and released their second album, “The Beat Goes On,” that also escalated into the Top 20. The band toured with Jimi Hendrix and played dates with groups such as Cream, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane. They also toured with the fledgling Led Zeppelin as their opening act. Over the years, the band (now consisting of Stein, Martell, Appice and eight-year member, bassist/vocalist Pete Bremy) has continued to perform and record together. In 2016, they released their most recent studio CD, titled “Spirit of ’67.”
In 2017, Vanilla Fudge celebrated their 50th anniversary.
Veteran singer, songwriter and recording artist Henry Gross is co-founder of the 1950s rock and roll revival band Sha Na Na.
Gross has recorded more than a dozen critically acclaimed albums and many Top 40 hits including the Top 10 hit “Shannon.” Throughout his career Gross has also performed with legends such as Aerosmith, the Byrds, the Doobie Brothers and many others.
The long hair may be gone, but the music of the era lives on. Hippiefest provides an avenue to share these classic tunes with kids and grandkids and to relive the past with the new generation.