American Vinyl Festival brings out the stars, benefits U.S. veterans

American Vinyl
Wally Palmar, guitarist of The Romantics. Photo by Joe Milliken

S. POMFRET, Vt. – The stars were certainly out Saturday night, July 6, 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, playing hit after hit for an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd. Some of the musicians’ names might be more recognizable than others, but the talent on display by the American Vinyl All-Star Band was clearly top-notch throughout.

The event was organized by the Vinyl All-Star Band manager, Bill Johnson, who is originally from Haverhill, Mass. and is also a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. The event was sponsored by Springfield Buick/GMC and the benefit supported Freedom Drives U.S., a nonprofit charity engaged in the facilitation of mobility-converted vehicles other than minivans for veterans with mobility needs.

The event also featured local food vendors, merchants, and 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. 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. “Skunk Baxter and I started putting together an all-star band for various charities about 20 years ago and it has morphed into the American All-Star band.”

American Vinyl
Jeff Skunk Baxter, guitarist of Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers. Photo by Joe Milliken

He continued, “I love the Woodstock, Vt. area and thought Suicide Six would be a beautiful setting for a show. I couldn’t ask for a better group of musicians 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. It included guitarists Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers, Barry Goudreau of Boston, Wally Palmar of The Romantics, and Brian Quinn of Candlebox; vocalist Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray and Danny Beissel of Fosterchild; bassists Phil Stokes of Pure Prairie League, Conrad Korsch of Rod Stewart, and Tim Archibald of RTZ, Barry Goudreau’s Engine Room; drummers Matt Sorum of Velvet Revolver/Hollywood Vampires and Robert “Mousey” Thompson of James Brown Band; keyboardist Leroy Romans of The Wailers/Third World, and the fabulous Uptown Horns of 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 modern popular songs of Sugar Ray, Guns N’ Roses, and Candlebox.

Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray commented, “I just 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 stated, “I did an event here in Vermont last year and it was great! 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 cause.”

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