The aromas of ganja and patchouli wafted across Broadway near the Beacon Theater Friday night, as the concert celebrating Wavy Gravy’s 75th birthday was about to begin. Born with the name Hugh Romney, he was onstage at Woodstock in 1969 and announced, “What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000!”
Since his Woodstock days, Wavy has maintained a philosophy of community activism, founding a performing arts camp for children and raising awareness of diabetes in Native Americans.
Wavy has some unique connections in the realm of medicine and technology. He is on the board of directors of Seva, an organization that sends medical teams to combat blindness in Asia. Seva’s Executive Director is Dr. Larry Brilliant, a physician who participated in the World Health Organization’s smallpox eradication program, and is currently Executive Director of Google.org.
Dr. Brilliant served as co-host to Wavy’s 75th birthday party concert at the Beacon Theater. Preceded by a parade of psychedelic tie-dyed fashion on the streets of Manhattan, the show featured a line-up of Rock ‘n Roll royalty.
Buffy Sainte-Marie was the first to take the stage. Born into the Cree Nation, she wrote protest and love songs in the 1960’s and was a fixture in the American folk-scene. She was followed by Dr. John, Ani Difranco, and Bruce Hornsby. Legendary guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, formerly with Hot Tuna, did a set that included favorites such as “Hesitation Blues.”
Jackson Browne got a long standing ovation with tunes that included “Before the Deluge” and “Running on Empty.” But the performers that really took me back to my youth on the streets of Jersey City were David Crosby and Graham Nash. The started their set with “Eight Miles High,” a tune written by Crosby that became a classic by the Byrds in 1966. This was followed by others beautifully performed, which included “Wooden Ships” any my favorite, “Long Time Gone.”
Thanks Wavy for a great concert, and Happy 75th!
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This post is dedicated to one of my all-time favorite street photographers, Bill Cunningham, whose work appears in the Styles Section of the Sunday New York Times in a pictorial column entitled “On the Street.” I recently saw a film about him by Richard Press entitled “Bill Cunningham New York” which I highly recommend for anyone interested in fashion, photography, or life in Manhattan. He is 82 years old and still photographing the people of this incredible city and what they wear.