Aug 29, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 18, the ashes of music legend Richie Havens were scattered across the field where the Woodstock Festival took place in 1969, now the site of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
The Day of Song and Remembrance Honoring Richie Havens was produced by my friend, Frank Malfitano, the founder and artistic director of the Syracuse Jazz Festival. The memorial celebration was free and open to the public. More than 1,000 fans, family members and friends attended, according to the Associated Press.
As a longtime concert impresario, Malfitano presented Havens to audiences in cities across America, including three times in Syracuse — in 2004 and 2010 at Syracuse Jazz Fest and at Onondaga Community College in October 2009.
“Yeah, I loved Richie a lot,” Malfitano said. “Worked with him a lot. Hung with him as often as I could. We spent a lot of nights talking ’til the wee hours, and I remember singing ‘All Along The Watchtower’ backstage with him one night before a gig. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled that big a smile!”
Raised in Eastwood and now residing in nearby Baldwinsville, Malfitano remembers seeing Havens open the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Decked out in an orange dashiki, Havens played an energetic two-hour set culminating in an improvisation on the traditional folk tune, “Motherless Child” which became known simply as “Freedom.”
Eulogists on Aug. 18 included Havens’ longtime friends Danny Glover and Louis Gossett Jr. (who co-wrote “Handsome Johnny” with Havens, Malfitano reports) and original Woodstock Festival organizers Michael Lang and Joel Rosenman, with appearances by Jose Feliciano, John Hammond, John Sebastian and Guy Davis.
Following the tributes, flower petals accompanied Havens’ ashes as they fell from the sky onto what was once Max Yasgur’s Farm. Havens was recognized around the world as a living embodiment of the spirit of Woodstock, and he carried that message of peace and love everywhere he went.
Over his 45-year career Havens released nearly 30 albums and was perhaps best known for his covers of Beatles songs such as “Lady Madonna” and “Here Comes the Sun.”
Havens, who had a history of kidney problems, died of a heart attack on April 22, in Jersey City, N.J. He was 72.
“For me, there simply was no sweeter man and no greater interpretive song stylist than Richie anywhere on the planet and anywhere in the history of this music,” Malfitano said, “and I will fondly treasure every minute I spent with this giant, on stage and off.”
Willow Museum makeover
The village’s Willow Museum, the two-building facility adjacent to the Gleason Mansion at 314 Second St., is being repainted white (by AJM Painting) and door thresholds have been repaired (by my pal, the multi-talented Joe Romano).
The museum operated by the Historical Association of Greater Liverpool includes a small willow shed and a steamer house, all celebrating the village’s vibrant willow-weaving industry, circa 1850-1929. The willow shed was once owned by the Hurst family on Oswego Street before being relocated to its present location in the early 1990s. In fact, nonagenerian Ken Hurst himself often staffs the museum. It’s open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through August. For info, dial 457-7091.
At the July 15 meeting of the Liverpool Village Board meeting, restaurateur John Gormel told the trustees that he’ll open the Barking Gull in September.
“Without a doubt,” he added.
For the past decade, the Gull, on the basin block at 116 S. Willow St., has been hosting private parties, but Gormel hopes to finally open it to the public this fall when it will specialize in gourmet wood-fired pizza.
John and his family own The Retreat, the Cobblestone, the Gull and the Dips & Dogs ice-cream stand, all right here in the village.