2012-45: The Catskill 45s do 1967

(Poster design by Posie Strenz)

My very part-time group, the Catskill 45s, will be playing a one-off concert in Woodstock on Saturday July 21st, as part of the free Woodstock Concerts on the Green series.

As some readers may know, the Catskill 45s came together three years ago for the 45th birthday party for myself and my wife Posie, playing only hit songs from our birth year, 1964. Since then, we have has reprised that concept for the same now-annual party, updating our set each calendar year. The party has become something of a legend and all the more so because we’re acutely avoiding playing out and becoming a “covers band”: in fact, the Catskill 45 has only played in public three times these last three years; the Concert on the Green therefore presents a rare occasion to see us perform, and for free.

For 2012, the Catskill 45s have moved up to the year 1967, renowned for Monterey Pop, psychedelia, Sgt. Pepper’s and debut albums by the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd to name a few. But though we thrive on channeling the annual progression of pop and rock (having traced the music of the Beatles, the Who and the Kinks in each of our four retrospectives to date), we also veer into any and every musical form that made the charts. Don’t be surprised to hear songs made famous in 1967 by such diverse acts as Johnny Cash, Lulu, or Jackie Wilson. (After four annual concerts, we’ve finally put up a YouTube clip of ourselves: this is “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” from our house party on June 16; most of the action is of our friends dancing the night away, which is really the whole point of it. Talking of friends, my long-term English pal Jeni de Haart arrived that morning and joined in on backing vocals on just about no sleep. Nice one.)

The Catskill 45s are Robert Burke Warren, Mark Lerner, Nancy Howell, Josh Roy Brown, myself – and Lukas Lerner, our teenage drummer who will be going off to college this year, making future performances of the Catskill 45s even less common than they already are.

In his blog, ‘Every Band I’ve Ever Been In,’ bassist Mark Lerner writes, “For a lot of musicians, the cover band is a dreaded thing. The goofy concept and (theoretically) once-a-year nature of the Catskill 45s makes it a pleasure to be in, though. We know, deep down, that we’re not up to the task of playing and singing like the Rolling Stones or Lee Dorsey, but once a year we get to pretend. The audience dances, and we’re playing great music with our families, friends, and neighbors. What more can anyone ask for?”

Join that group of family, friends and neighbors on the Woodstock Village Green on Saturday July 21st. The Catskill 45s will perform at approximately 5pm. Other acts on the bill, which starts at 1pm, include Greg Englesson, Carl Mateo Group, Mambo Kikongo, Naked, Marc Black, and Noel Fletcher (see post below). The Catskill 45s encourage you to enter the spirit of the occasion by dressing in your 1967 finest.

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