Glen Burtnik Brings
Peace, Love & Music to the Shea Center
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Peace, Love & Music returned for a third straight year to the Shea Center for Performing Arts in Wayne, New Jersey. On May 9, 2015 as The Summer of Love Experience took the capacity crowd back to a time when girls wore flowers in their hair. The show was conceived by Glen Burtnik (multi-instrumentalist/vocals) who has a zeal for the music that blossomed in the summer of 1967 - starting with the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles) and peaking at the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival in 1969.

New Jersey music legend Glen Burtnik at the sold-out show in Wayne.

Glen with his own impressive list of credentials including ELO, Styx and The Weeklings - fronted a big band featuring a talented team of performers - to present pop and rock hits from that exceptional era. Adding to the psychedelic experience of this event was Marc Rubinstein's Pig Light Show, which gained notoriety at concerts at the Fillmore East during the late 60's and early 70's.

Sitar music filled the venue as film clips of the 60's flashed on the big screen behind the stage. The video culminated with Ravi Shankar in concert playing that challenging Indian instrument. The Summer of Love Experience decked out in hippy garb opened with the cheerful "Happy Together". Both male and female vocalists handled the sweet harmonies of The Turtles' tune. Next, the horn and string sections shined on The Doors' "Touch Me". Groovy graphics throughout the show enhanced the music.

Reagan Richards channeled Grace Slick to help 1967 come alive in NJ.

A girl with an angelic voice took center stage to sing Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" before the boys took over to present the rocking CSN version. Pulsing colors and peace signs punctuated the jamming of that part of the song. During "If You're Going to San Francisco" flowers were given out as flower images flowed across the big screen. The "Good Vibrations" continued with folks clapping along to The Beach Boys' classic, which moved into a colorful rendition of "She's A Rainbow (The Rolling Stones).

Tom Brislin, one time member of YES, provided keyboard wizardry.

Singer Christine Martucci got the first of what would be a string of standing ovations with tunes made famous by Janis Joplin. Christine with her bluesy, bold voice belted out "Me & Bobby McGee" and "Take Another Piece of My Heart" with power. "California Dreamin'" was delightful like a warm summer's day. Then the band in a four piece configuration turned up the heat for "Light My Fire" showcasing sizzling guitar and keyboard solos.

"Don't you love this music? I love this music," enthused Burtnik who played a number of instruments throughout the concert as well as handling some lead vocals. The Summer of Love Experience explored experimental elements on Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" - countered by the pop hit "It's A Beautiful Morning". The song was a good platform for the harmonies of the group in the context of gentler rhythms. Singer Freedom Bremner soared on the soulful "Try A Little Tenderness" (Otis Redding).

More scenes from the Summer of Love Experience.

"We lost a great one," declared Glen prior to a celebration of Joe Cocker. Singer Anthony D'Amato was animated like Joe but placed his own unique signature on a lively "The Letter". "It's an honor to do this material," stated Anthony as they moved into "Delta Lady" and "With A Little Help From My Friends". D'Amato had a wide vocal range that enhanced his already vibrant stage presence. Horns and harmonies added to the energy thus closing the first set on a high note.

After a quick break part of the band was back to jam out Santana style. The artwork above heightened the intensity of the instrumental music. The Summer of Love Experience put their own spin on a giddy "Gimme Some Lovin". Singer Reagan Richards aptly handled two soaring Jefferson Airplane tunes ("White Rabbit" and "Don't You Want Somebody to Love"). Burtnik said he missed going to the Woodstock concert but we all saw the movie, which led into Country Joe McDonald's anti-war anthem that segued into Richie Havens' "Freedom". Keeping the Woodstock theme going some men in the band presented CSN's "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" acoustically in its entirely with three voices blending beautifully just like the original trio.

More scenes from the Summer of Love Experience.

"Creeque Alley" (Mamas & Papas) featured more fine harmonies. Anthony returned to sing "She Came in the Bathroom Window" that flowed into a feisty "Feelin' Alright". Interestingly, D'Amato was wearing no shoes with his suit, perhaps a nod to barefoot Paul on the Abby Road album cover. Freedom took the helm for a spirited "Dance To The Music". He made sure folks were on their feet to participate by encouraging them to giving the peace sign. The encore flew high on the "Star Spangled Banner" played Hendrix style by guitarist Joey La'Fragola. "All Along The Watchtower" (Bob Dylan) was also a sizzling tribute to Jimi. They concluded with a winsome "Love The One Your With". The Summer of Love Experience was a fun throwback to the late 1960's presented by a capable crew of hippies who were passionate about the music.

The Shea Center for Performing Arts located on the campus of William Paterson University has become a home for The Summer of Love Concerts. Glen Burtnik will be returning on November 20, 2015 to celebrate the music of The Band. The Shea is an intimate theater with a customized, state-of-the-art sound system paired with computerized lighting. The Shea Center is a strong supporter of the arts within the community presenting children programs, concerts, theater and more with a fall schedule already in the works.

Guitarist Joey La'Fragola brought the Summer of Love licks to life.

Related Links: For more information on GLEN BURTNIK and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Glen Burtnik | Summer of Love Experience | Shea Center | Concert Review - 2013

(Originally Published on May 10, 2015)




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