Downriver celebrates Woodstock’ to open July 27

The Ayonics

Paula Neuman
– Wyandotte Warrior –

Fifty years after the concert that became the iconic symbol of the 1960s’ counterculture comes a celebration honoring the “3 days of peace and music” that was Woodstock.

The celebration, Downriver Celebrates Woodstock, will begin July 27 with a reception at the Downriver Council for the Arts, 81 Chestnut St., Wyandotte, offering an assortment of free multimedia art exhibits and musical performances.

In 1969, half a million hippies gathered at a dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y., to see 32 musical acts, including Santana, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, the Who, Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix. Traffic jams, rain, mud, and inadequate food and facilities didn’t deter the concert goers, and Woodstock today is remembered as a triumph of “peace and music,” just as the festival was originally billed.

The art exhibits at the DCA will depict some of the Woodstock performers and the site of the famous festival. Some of the artwork will be by local artists and some will be exclusively on loan from the collection of Wavy Gravy, entertainer, activist and emcee at Woodstock in 1969.

Models wearing Woodstock-inspired fashions by designer Cheryl Zemke of Riverview will “be grooving with attendees,” said Jan Dunbar of Wyandotte, president of the DCA and curator of the event.

“I have a great team planning all of these things and the concert,” she said. “It’s turning out be a pretty big deal.”

Refreshments will be available and photo ops will abound, Dunbar said. Poster artist Dennis Loren, who has created thousands of album covers and rock posters for recording artists from Brian Wilson to Frank Zappa, also will be on hand to greet event-goers at the DCA. Gary Koral and his “Lost in Sound Detroit”” T-shirts and merchandise will be there, too.

The exhibit reception is set from 5 to 7 p.m. in the main gallery. The exhibit will continue to be shown at the DCA through Aug. 16.

At 7:30 in the upstairs concert hall after the art exhibit reception, the music will begin and continue until 11:30 p.m. Performers slated are:

n Joe Kidd and Sheila Burke, award-winning folksingers.

n The Ayonics, a fictitious British punk fusion band created for the mockumentary film, “The Ayonics.”

n Dave “Stoney” Mazur and the Westsiders, a blues band. Mazur was founder and lead singer with acid rock band “The Jagged Edge” in 1966, and opened at the Grande Ballroom in Detoit for many rock legends of the day, including the Doors, Pink Floyd and The Animals.

n Kougaran. This band – “a new generation rock band with an old soul” – has been getting great press, and is touted as “the next national act from Detroit.” National Rock Review called Kougaran “one of the few local rock bands to watch grow,” and named them “Detroit’s young hellions of rock.” Kougaran is getting air play in the U.K., Australia and the U.S.

“Kougaran is the premier rock band in the Detroit area,” Dunbar said.

“The 50th anniversary of the iconic music festival is a very special occasion!” she added. “Festivities are planned all over the world. Downriver Celebrates Woodstock is the only major event planned in our area. We’ve got lots of fun events and surprises planned.”

The DCA event is free of charge, open to the public and billed as “family-friendly.”

Founded in 1978, the DCA is a non-profit arts and cultural organization that serves 21 communities. The DCA’s mission is “to enrich the quality of life in the Downriver communities by advocating and promoting the arts and providing opportunities for involvement and participation in arts and cultural activities.”

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