“If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there”
This summer of 2017 will be fifty years since the one and only “Summer of love“.
Fifty summers since the one incredible, amazing, tempestuous summer of 1967 that changed not only the world, but how we as a society eternally view ourselves.
The summer of ’67 was a artistic, cultural and political watershed that forever stamped an idealistic movement of young and wide-eyed innocent self-rightous optimists into our memory.
I say that because Carl and I grew up in the sixties, and it was then that we became musically aware of how artists can reach out and change the world with something as simple as song.
We witnessed it so many times in those days; but only now, in retrospect, can we take a greater part in the timeless unfolding of its’ ideals and values.
Those young people shunned the mantra of outdated thoughts and attitudes: To work and slave for “The Man“, only to come home to your two bedroom ranch with the one car and TV dinner.
The youth of that time, yearned to break free from the mantle of what their parents thought was important. To reach out and embrace other people of the world with love and peace, rather than hate and violence.
They protested the war in Vietnam. They distrusted the government, and they railed against pollution, waste and corporate greed.
Those things still bother the youth of today, however they are simply inept in any attempt at expressing it artistically.
Fifty years ago, the world was alive with the sounds of young, talented musicians from every nation, joining together to create a movement of hope, love and peace.
Those musical influences spawned an entire generation of counter-culture idealists, better known as “Hippies”.
Those hippies walked a path of love and righteousness, rather than one of turmoil and oppression.
Most of that change that began in the early sixties, gathered momentum year after tumultuous year, until by the end of the decade manifested itself in upstate New York, at a small farm, that will forever be known as The Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
Those thought and ideals we were born of, are still part of musical thread that we attempt to weave during each performance we play.
Understanding rather than mistrust.
Hope rather than darkness and doubt.
Love and unity rather than racism and deceit.
The music that we play each night is sprinkled liberally with those values; values that have always been treasured by us in our own lives.
They are nothing new, yet, it seems that fifty years later, they are all but forgotten.
On a suddenly hot and sunny Thursday evening in Sterling Heights, fifty years after its’ initial spark, that incredible movement was re-kindled.
A local band born of its’ ideals was coming to town to re-awaken the very best attributes of the hippy movement in those attending their concerts.
The Magic Bus plays music from the late sixties through Woodstock. They are a tribute band that doesn’t focus on one band, but on a musical time of our youth.
Seven very talented musicians create a musical time machine that transports everyone within earshot back to that cherished moment in our lives.
No time in the twentieth century was as fertile for music growth and expression as the late 60’s. It is when popular music came of age. Songs in our modern culture went from simple melodies of wide-eyed love and happiness, to stinging anthems of social awakening and protest.
All of those songs that crafted the heartbeat of a generation are still alive and kicking when the Magic Bus gets together to play.
Since Carl and I have such a fond reverence for that musical era, and those songs, we have felt a very special kinship with that band.
We do what they do, so to speak.
One of the reasons that we have always played was to keep alive and express those thoughts and ideals of the best of each artists and their music.
We do it one song at a time.
Thursday evening, we opened for the Magic Bus at Dodge park. We took the stage at exactly 6:30 and did a whirl-wind thirty minute set. Our goal was to light the fire of the sixties’ sound so when the Bus took the stage, they would build it to a feverish musical pyre, worthy of any headband wearing anarchist.
We opened with The Everly Brothers. Happy-go-lucky music, designed to simply get peoples’ toes tapping. We ventured under the boardwalk, and out in the rain; The Drifters and Credence Clearwater Revival, respectively.
We played a three song Dylan retrospective, to honor the sounds the musical and cultural icon. Even in our accelerated state, we could see that the song-seeds were beginning to take root in the receptive audience.
Song after song began to weave the musical tapestry needed to tell our important story.
We finished our twelve song set with the legendary Hollies tune: Bus Stop. Our way of handing the torch to the group that everyone was there to hear.
After quickly clearing our gear off the stage, the Magic Bus cracked up the magical-mysery tour to full speed as they played song after treasured song, to the delight of the enraptured fans.
Carl and I watched and listened to every note as the magical night wrapped around us.
This show will be one of the warm, treasured memories for us. One that we can take great pride in being a small musical part of.