Woodstock comes to Provo

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More than 20 well-known Provo musicians collaborated recently for a show, to commemorate the historic Woodstock Festival.

“The Songs of Woodstock” show is part of the Rooftop Concert Series, a free community concert held the first Friday of every month from May to October, on the rooftop of the Provo Town Square parking terrace.

Robbie Connolly, a guitarist with the band Fictionist, walked on stage wearing red bell-bottoms and carrying his guitar for the July Fourth concert. The audience stood shoulder to shoulder as the setting sun lit up the sky and Connolly started playing the national anthem, paying tribute to Jimi Hendrix’s historic guitar solo.

Conolly added his own flair, yelling “And the home of the brave” into his guitar, for the whole audience to hear.

“It doesn’t get anymore rock and roll than this,” said Ryan Innes, who performed “With a Little Help from My Friends” by The Beatles and has also appeared on NBC’s “The Voice.”

Forty-five years ago, nearly 500,000 people gathered on Max Yasgur’s farm in the town of Bethel, New York, for the three-day Woodstock Festival, a show celebrating “peace and music,” according to a release from the Rooftop series promoters. Those who don’t know the history of Woodstock still enjoyed the live entertainment this year.

“I actually didn’t recognize any of the songs. I didn’t even know what Woodstock was,” said audience member Aimee Vargas, a UVU student studying public relations. “A performance that stood out to me was the opening number; I think he is one of the best guitarists I have ever seen, and it was so incredible just watching the magic right in front of me.”

Woodstock was focused on a massive cultural event in history, according to Paul Jacobsen, who organizes and performs at the July tribute shows each year. More than 30 artists played on stage during the three-day festival in 1969. This gave a lot of songs and artists to choose from. But Jacobsen had to capture three days in one night.

“We could do high energy, pre-punk rock music like ‘My Generation’ and also an American standard like ‘Blue Moon.’ And  somehow it all fit together,” Jacobsen said.

He dedicated six weeks to getting 15 songs and more than 20 musicians ready for the show. According to Jacobsen, there was a special camaraderie among the musicians this year, which included Innes, Fictionist, Book on Tapeworm, Sarah Sample, Joshua James, Desert Noises, The New Electric Sound and more.

To conclude the evening, the performers got on stage to sing a final song together. As they sang “The Weight,” the audience swayed back and forth to the chorus of musicians.

“It was such a rush. I can’t believe these are my friends,” Jacobsen said.

People interested in supporting the Rooftop series can visit www.rooftopconcertseries.com to donate money.

“But the first thing is to show up, bring your friends and get into it,” Jacobsen said.