Kenjamin Franklin was 13 and 30 miles away when the original three-day Woodstock Arts Festival took place on Max Yasguar’s farm in upstate Bethel nearly 50 years ago.
“It was right down the road off Route 17B,” said Franklin, a Lawrence native, explaining where Camp Keeyumah was located in Orson, Pa. “It was so frustrating that the concerts were right in my own backyard and I couldn’t get there.”
The popular sleep away camp was a summer staple for many Five Towners. It was owned by Atlantic Beach residents Arnie and Shirley Allison. Franklin said actress Peggy Lipton and sports pundit Tony Kornheiser also attended the camp. Lipton died this year. The Allisons were Kornheiser’s aunt and uncle.
Franklin, in the music business since the 1970s, helped place the Brooklyn-based American Nomads on the bill through his Radioactive Talent Inc. agency for a 90-minute set on the outdoor stage opening day of the Bethel Woods 50th anniversary concert on Friday, Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. The seven-member band, along with lyricist Richard Humann, a group founder, plays a blend of roots rock inspired by country, rhythm & blues and American folk music.
“For me its everything,” said Humann, whose younger brother Joseph plays harmonica and percussion. “My mother, was a Mother for Peace, and our household was politically charged. I listened to the Beatles, now we’re playing with Ringo. Then when the Woodstock album came out, I played that over and over again.” Humann said that his father, Richard, was then a Republican, his mother a staunch Democrat.
He also remembers his mom putting him and his sister, Laurie, in front of the television to watch the Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”
American Nomads has keyboardist Walter Kenul on lead vocals, guitarist Dante DeLemos on lead vocals, Susan Darmiento on lead and background vocals, guitarist George LaGrange on background vocals, drummer Joe Conoscenti, bassist Jay Rivera on vocals, and Gerald Menke on pedal steel. Kenul and DeLemos were also founding members of the band that Humann said was formed six years ago, but has existed in various iterations for more than two decades. LaGrange is a nephew of the Humanns.
Humann, 8 in 1969, said that now playing a Woodstock anniversary show has brought his life full circle from when his mom, Stella, “dragged my sister, Laurie, and me to a Pete Seeger protest concert,” that also featured Don McLean. Humann was only 4. “It’s most surreal for me personally, it’s important for the band as well as the concert is iconic and not just for the music, but what it represented.”
Growing up in Stony Point in Rockland County, Humann recalled traveling on a family vacation that summer to the Catskills and the New York State Thruway was shutdown because of Woodstock. It is a classic line heard on the three-record set that documents the ultimate 1960s happening. “The New York State Thruway is closed man,” said musician Arlo Guthrie, the son of folk legend Woody Guthrie.
Franklin recalled listening to WNEW-FM two years after Woodstock and taping the live broadcast of the Allman Brothers’ legendary Fillmore East show on reel to reel. “I stayed up all night heard the Allman Brothers stage intro by Bill Graham that brought the Allman Brothers magical defining moment home and I knew music was going to be in my blood forever.”
Go to https://www.bethelwoodscenter.org/events/concerts for tickets.