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Recreating an iconic moment: ‘Lookstock’ invokes the legendary Woodstock concert of 1969 in this year’s Transperformance

  • Psychedelic/groove rockers Outer Stylie will channel Jimi Hendrix at “Lookstock,” this year’s version of Transperformance. Image from Facebook

  • Kimaya Diggs, with an assist from some other vocalists, will perform the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at Lookstock on Tuesday. Image from Facebook

  • Bringing the heat: Sunburned Hand of the Man plays the music of Canned Heat at Lookstock on Tuesday. Image from Facebook

  • Veteran folksinger Tracy Grammer will fill some famous shoes when she performs as Joan Baez at Lookstock on Tuesday. Image from Facebook

  • Kate Lorenz will be joined by her band, The Constellations, for a turn as Jefferson Airplane at Lookstock on Tuesday. Image from Facebook

  • Opening ceremony at Woodstock on Aug. 15, 1969, led by Swami Satchidananda of India. Photo by Mark Goff/public domain



Staff Writer
Thursday, August 15, 2019

Transperformance, the annual good-time musical fundraiser for Northampton schools, has sometimes had to get very creative to find a fresh theme for its shows, held at Look Park. After all, the popular concert event, at which local performers impersonate other bands and artists, has been around for nearly 30 years.

Last year, for instance, it was “AmperBands!” (groups with a “&” in their names); another was “Food Groups” (Cream, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Cranberries, etc.), and a third theme was “Rock N Roll Heaven Revisited” (late artists like George Harrison and Amy Whitehouse).

But for this year’s show, on Tuesday, Aug. 20 — the 29th in the series — pop culture history has provided the roadmap. With the 50th anniversary of the legendary Woodstock festival upon us, “LookStock” will do its bit to encapsulate three days of live music and counter-cultural celebration in 1969 at a farm in upstate New York.

Lookstock, which takes place at Look Park’s Pines Theater from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. — doors open at 3 p.m. — is put together by the Northampton Arts Council and the Parent Teacher Organizations of Northampton’s public schools.

“We’d been looking at [the title] for a few years,” said Steve Sanderson, event producer for the Arts Council. “There was a little bit of grumbling [from participating bands] because we’d used that title before … But it’s the nature of the Valley that people here really love Woodstock, so it made sense [to do it again]. I mean, it’s been 50 years.”

This year’s show features about 20 different groups and artists taking on the music and stage dynamics of some of Woodstock’s key performers, from Sly & The Family Stone to Jimi Hendrix to The Grateful Dead to Jefferson Airplane.

Sanderson said performers are never told what to play — “We give them the flexibility to put together their sets however they want” — but he added that he expected the artists “would mostly be playing material that was heard at Woodstock. What we really ask is that the bands stay in character for the show.”

Channeling folk diva Joan Baez will be one of today’s folk veterans, Tracy Grammer; another acoustic performer, Kimaya Diggs, will take on four voices (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) with some help from her sisters. Philip Price, a singer and lead songwriter for the pop-rock band Winterpills, will perform as singer-songwriter Tim Hardin.

The Lonesome Brothers, with Miranda Brown and Scott Hall, will appear as The Band; gundy+MCB will impersonate The Grateful Dead; and the Young@Heart Chorus will perform the songs of Richie Havens and Joe Cocker.

Sanderson, a past Transperformance singer himself — he’s a co-founder and frontman for the Valley band Drunk Stuntmen — will also take the stage, as lead singer John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), the country-rock band that played a memorable set at Woodstock. He’ll be backed by three ace musicians — Jim Armenti on guitar, Paul Kochanski on bass, J.J. O’Connell on drums — to complete a band that’s dubbed itself “CCRUD!”

“I just wanted the chance to sing ‘Fortunate Son,’” Sanderson said.

Meantime, psychedelic/groove rockers Outer Stylie will impersonate Jimi Hendrix, and rockers Page 6 will appear as The Who. No word yet on whether either of these bands will be burning or smashing any guitars, respectively, at the end of their sets.

If the Jimi Hendrix doppelgängers do try to light a guitar on fire, Sanderson quipped, “I hope they use Sterno.”

Also on tap: Students from the Northampton Community Music Center’s summer rock program will open LookStock with a couple of Woodstock tunes, and Transperformance’s Kids Stage — a feature just added last year — will feature three bands that play between set changes on the main stage.

Transperformance raises money for arts enrichment in Northampton schools and for the ArtsEZ grant program. Past shows have  generated as much as $25,000 and drawn crowds estimated at 1,000 people, according to the Arts Council.

If Tuesday’s weather doesn’t cooperate, there will be no rolling around in the mud a la Woodstock: The show will instead be staged Wednesday at the Pines Theater. If the forecast is bad for both days, LookStock will be held Tuesday at John M. Greene Hall at Smith College.

Presale tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (65 years or over), veterans and students (high school or college ID required), and $5 for children 12 years and under. Tickets can be purchased the day of the show at the Pines Theater, at a slightly higher price, or in advance at State Street Fruit Store in Northampton, Cooper’s Corner in Florence and A.J. Hastings in Amherst.

Tickets can also be purchased at transperformance. brownpapertickets.com.

Food will be available at the concert from La Veracruzana, Bart’s Homemade Ice Cream, and local pizza restaurants including Joe’s, Roberto’s, Pizza Amore and others. Per the regulations of Look Park, no coolers, no beverages and no pets are allowed at the show. All the food sale monies will be donated to Northampton schools, Sanderson says.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com