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Revisiting the Summer of Love in Hagerstown

July 15, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

The Summer of Love was about love - a physical love and a metaphorical love.

It also was about a bigger picture, one of speaking up against authority at a time when youth were being drafted to fight a war in a foreign country while their own country was changing around them with progression in civil rights, women's rights and gay rights, according to musicians of the time and music professors.

Patrons at The Maryland Theatre this Thursday night will get to hear some of the popular songs of the time by some of the musicians who played in the historic outdoor concert of the Summer of Love, the Monterey Pop Festival in Monterey, Calif., in June 1967.

Jefferson Starship, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service and former Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten will be performing at the four-hour concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love in 1967. The tour began June 29 in New York City and runs through the fall.

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The groups will perform some of their well-known hits of the '60s, including "Somebody to Love," which Starship's predecessor, Jefferson Airplane, performed, and "Piece of My Heart" by Big Brother & the Holding Company. The late Janis Joplin sang with Big Brother.

Some of the bands, though not Jefferson Starship, might perform newer songs, as well.

The groups will jam and might intermingle during performances.

What came to be known as the Summer of Love is associated with bringing to national attention the hippie counterculture.

Though much of the music, political, ecological and social movements associated with that summer started earlier in the 1960s, said Paul Kantner, 66, one of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane.

Even for those who didn't attend Monterey Pop or other festivals that year, there was a feeling of awe, of coming of age and of the power of the combined voice of youth, said Deane Root, professor of music at University of Pittsburgh.

Listening to this music, which parents weren't listening to and which had double meanings, was empowering, Root said. The music was ambiguous, singing of love that could be a sexual love or a love for the world or brotherly love. Or singing of peace, whether it meant peace, not war, or being at peace with one's surroundings, Root said.

For many people, listening to this psychedelic music was intertwined with drugs, even if listeners weren't doing them. The scent of marijuana was impossible to avoid at concerts, Root said.

And there was plenty of "free love."

"It was a magical juncture of history between the invention of birth control and before the onset of AIDS," said Tom Constanten, 63, who was a keyboardist with the Grateful Dead.

And there was the music.

At the time, musicians had begun listening to music from around the world, as well as that of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and incorporating those influences into their music, said Sam Andrew, a singer, songwriter, composer and guitarist with Big Brother & the Holding Company.

It wasn't just about 12-bar blues or a particular chord, said Andrew, 65.

"Anything was allowed," he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Summer of Love 40th Anniversary Celebration concert with Jefferson Starship, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service and former Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, July 19

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: Tickets cost $50 to $55

MORE: For tickets or information, go to www.mdtheatre.org or call 301-790-2000.

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