On an August day in 1969 that he wishes he could get back, Glen Burtnik was a young teenager out with his friends when his older brother briefly stopped by the family’s home in Franklin Township. “When I came home, my mom said, ‘Bryan was here to take you to Woodstock,’” he says. Burtnik had missed out.
Tony Pallagrosi was luckier. At 14, he caught a ride from Lavallette to Woodstock. “I just remember how dirty I was, but I didn’t care really,” he says. “People had food, and everybody took care of each other. I don’t remember being hungry.”
Burtnik and Pallagrosi grew up to become denizens of the New Jersey music scene. Now, a dozen or more times a year—for about two hours in a theater rather than three days in the mud—they relive history’s most famous music festival. This month’s edition of Glen Burtnik’s Summer of Love Concert—marking the 50th anniversary of Woodstock—will play twice in New Jersey, at MPAC in Morristown (August 15) and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City (August 24). As many as 21 musicians and dancers take the stage at once, backed by a psychedelic light show. They perform their interpretations of Woodstock-era artists, including Country Joe and the Fish, Otis Redding and Janis Joplin.
“I was a starry-eyed child of the ’60s, and I believed in the optimism of that era,” says Burtnik, whose career has taken him from Broadway’s Beatlemania (he played Paul McCartney) through a host of popular Shore bands to Styx. “I went through a million different things, but I’ve always held onto that music,” says Burtnik.
In May, Jem Records, a label founded by another deep-rooted New Jersey rock stalwart, Marty Scott, released a 17-track Summer of Love Concert album, recorded at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank.
“If it all went away the next day, I wanted to have something,” says Pallagrosi, who played trumpet for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and other bands before becoming a concert promoter. “I love this project and I didn’t want it to be forgotten.”Click here to leave a comment