Cover Rock: The British Invasion takes over Avon June 23-24
Special to the Daily
Last year’s Cover Rock Music Festival, which mimicked Woodstock’s legendary 1969 festival (without the mud, drugs and hassle), fostered a feel-good spirit, as people danced, joked and soaked in the extraordinary cover bands producer and president of COOL Radio Tom Dobrez hired.
Classic rock music lovers dressed the part with vintage tie-dyes, psychedelic shirts and flowing skirts. In fact, a bachelorette’s party even showed up, donning daisies and other fresh flower wreaths in their hair.
“There was a deep emotional connection that I was not expecting,” Dobrez said, recalling how attendees hugged and thanked him, recounting stories of how they came of age — experiencing their first kiss or general pubescence — to the music.
When he announced his intention for this summer’s British Invasion, he received responses like, “I can’t wait” and “that’s even better.”
About a month after the festival, Dobrez sent out a survey, which came back with “extremely positive” feedback, he said. The survey categorized participants into promoters, or advocates; those in the middle; and those who probably wouldn’t recommend the festival, and Dobrez said 77 percent landed in the promoter category while about 15 percent fell in the middle.
This year, based on feedback and momentum, he is making Cover Rock Music Festival even better, with a laser light show, an expanded kids’ fun zone, a better variety of food vendors (which will also offer themed food, like fish and chips), a VIP package that includes not only liquor, but also catered dinners, and the ability to make your own shade in general admission.
The Search for the Bands
To find the best cover bands, Dobrez begins with a dream list of the (“real”) musicians he’d like represented, and then starts researching cover bands online.
After watching their shows on YouTube, he whittles it down to three finalists and then interviews them about why they do what they do, how long they’ve been together and if they have endorsements from the real artists they represent.
For example, last year’s Who cover band earned endorsements by Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey, and they rocked the pavilion.
Dobrez also looks for artists who can fully mimic the original musicians, like France DiCarlo of The Who Show, naturally pulled off with his drumming “channeling” Keith Moon, or Ralph Woodson did by totally embodying Jimi Hendrix, from his clothing, down to playing guitar with his teeth.
“People really made you feel warm about it,” DiCarlo said about last year’s receptive audience of about 2,000 throughout the two-day festival.
The selection process takes nearly a full year, as the production team travels to see each band they intend on choosing.
“The standards we set with year 1 are what we intend to continue,” he said. “People walked in with their arms crossed and walked out dancing. That’s the level we want to bring.”
Bringing in the Bands
This year, the town of Avon is giving the Cover Rock Festival $75,000 in seed money; town manager Virginia Egger said the town wants to promote a feeling of community through events like Cover Rock.
“Tom knows the community,” said Town Manager Virginia Egger. “(And) everybody knows the songs, the familiarity and the comfort of being in the park.”
Dobrez decided to move the festival to a Friday-Saturday, rather than Saturday-Sunday to make the most out of the night shows, which were some of the most popular, and well-attended, shows last summer.
While some residents may still be working at 2 p.m. Friday, they’ll be able to catch the Cream of Clapton, which recalls Eric Clapton’s early days with bands like the Yardbirds, Derek and the Dominoes and Cream. Then the “epic” two-hour battle begins, Dobrez says, with the best of the Beatles vs. best songs of the Stones.
And, anyone who can make Friday’s 2 p.m. curtain call will hear one-hit wonders through a cover band called The British Invasion Years (well, they didn’t really “invade” if they only made one hit, but chances are you know most, if not all, of the lyrics to that hit).
Since the Kinks weren’t as “big” of a band as, say, the Stones, the Beatles or The Who, it’s difficult to find a cover band — and one that’s good. But Dobrez searched Kinked As The Kinks out because the music is so fun and often overlooked.
Saturday begins with a rousing Queen rendition, followed by a Moody Blues set. Of course, no British Invasion festival would be complete without the eclectic, wild, sensuous and rockin’ ballads from Led Zeppelin.
Saturday night ends with a full-out Pink Floyd tribute, complete with a mesmerizing laser show, in which Dobrez says is going “all out,” he said.
This year, general admission guests will be allowed to bring a small, two-person pop-up tent (no 10×10 sizes) for shade in the back of the field.
To further promote a family friendly atmosphere, the Kids’ Zone will provide more activities, including interactive learning activities about Britain in partnership with the Eagle Valley Library District.
For adults who enjoy sipping free spirit samples, savoring a catered dinner each night, hanging out in a large, shaded tent area and being roped off from the other “commoners,” the VIP pass is the way to go.
(OK, truth be told: This isn’t that kind of festivals, in terms of VIPs. Musicians mingle with audiences, VIP pass holders high-five general admission goers right over the adjoining rope. And, general admission pass holders often get a better, center view of the musicians. So, it’s a give and take.)
One-day passes are on sale for $49; two-day passes are $79; and two-day VIP passes are $179.