American Vinyl Festival Brings Out The Stars In Vermont, Benefits U.S. Veterans

SOUTH POMFRET, VERMONT – The stars were certainly out last Saturday night at the Suicide Six Ski Area in South Pomfret - music stars that is - as the American Vinyl Festival tour made its way to the scenic Woodstock Inn & Resort, featuring many famous artists playing hit after timeless hit for an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd. Some of the musician’s names might be more recognizable than others, but the talent on display by the American Vinyl All-Star Band was clearly top-notch throughout.

Article and photos by Joe Milliken

Organized by the Vinyl All-Star Band manager, Bill Johnson, a veteran in the business who is originally from Haverhill, MA. and is also a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, the event was sponsored locally by Springfield (VT) Buick/GMC and the benefit supported Freedom Drives U.S. Inc., a not-for-profit charity engaged in the facilitation of mobility-converted vehicles (other than mini-vans) for veterans with mobility needs.

The festivities included local food/drink vendors, merchants, a silent auction, and all veterans gained free admission to the show when accompanied by a ticketed guest. Additionally, one of the benefit’s most active supporters, U. S. Army Veteran Rene’ Peterson, was on hand to help with the concert and speak to the audience on behalf of Freedom Drives Us, Inc. Peterson actively travels around the country to promote the cause and show off his mobility-converted vehicle.

“We are very excited to be here today and to celebrate our great country and support our veterans with this amazing benefit,” Bill Johnson said prior to the show. “Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (a participating musician) and I started putting together an all-star band for various charities about 20 years ago and it has morphed into the American Vinyl All-Star band.

“I love the Woodstock, Vermont area and thought Suicide Six would be a beautiful setting for a show. I couldn’t ask for a better group of musicians to work with, who not only bring their tremendous talents to the show, but also a passion to help those in need... and what a great way to spend a holiday weekend!”

The artists and timeless songs they performed were seemingly endless; guitarists Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers), Barry Goudreau (Boston), Wally Palmar (The Romantics) and Brian Quinn (Candlebox), vocalists Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray), Danny Beissel (Fosterchild) and Andy Pratt, bassists Phil Stokes (Pure Prairie League), Conrad Korsch (Rod Stewart) and Tim Archibald (RTZ, Barry Goudreau’s Engine Room), drummers Matt Sorum (Velvet Revolver/Guns N' Roses/Hollywood Vampires), and Robert “Mousey” Thompson (James Brown Band), keyboardist Leroy Romans (The Wailers/Third World), and the fabulous Uptown Horns (The Rolling Stones).

Local favorites also appearing were Woodstock’s own Jim Yeager and Claremont, N.H.’s Evelyn Cormier, who appeared on the American Idol television show. The All-Star band played hit after hit from all the bands previously mentioned for hours, from the 70s and 80s classic hits of Steely Dan, Boston, Rod Stewart and The Romantics, to the more contemporary songs of Sugar Ray, Guns N’ Roses and Candlebox. The band was stunningly tight, and it was easy to tell that these musicians were truly having a great time performing all these hit songs and for such a great cause.

Just a few of the classic songs performed included "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," "Maggie May," "Get Up," "Amie," "Honky Tonk Woman," "What I Like About You," "Far Behind," "Foreplay/Long Time," "Fly," "China Grove," "Stay With Me," "Talking In Your Sleep," "Black Friday" "Every Morning," and "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray: “I just recently started performing with this All-Star Band and I am thrilled to be onboard for such an important cause. I look around at this band and see legends like Skunk Baxter, Barry Goudreau and Wally Palmar and it is just a privilege to be here.”

Wally Palmar: “I did an event here in Vermont last year and it was great! A few years back, Bill Johnson invited me to perform with the band and for this great cause, and it’s just a lot of fun to be part of. It’s such a talented band and we have so much fun playing together... it’s just an honor to contribute to such a worthy event.”

Jeff "Skunk" Baxter: "Bill (Johnson) and I have been friends for a long time and its a great thing to see how this band and tour has evolved over the years. Our collaboration with all these great musicians has allowed us to help a lot of charities along the way."

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