NOFO fest takes boomers back

A shirtless man in khaki shorts played a little air guitar.

A middle-aged woman in a pair of unbuttoned, folded-over denim shorts swiveled her hips to the music as a man with long white hair tied back in an American flag bandana threw his fists in the air.

Such was the scene at the North Fork Rock and Folk Festival as Saturday’s headliner, Mountain, fronted by Leslie West, performed. There were beach balls tossed among the crowd, hula hoops for all to enjoy and lots and lots of tie-dyed apparel.

“It makes us young again,” said concertgoer Patrick Chapman of Laurel. Mr. Chapman’s wife, Lenore, who hula hooped throughout the performance, said she’d seen Mountain perform multiple times since the early 1970s.

“It was craziness,” she said, recalling that time. “The beginning of my freedom.”

About 1,100 people came down to Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue Saturday and 1,400 Sunday to hear rock legends such as Mountain, Richie Havens and Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna.

It was a relatively mild weekend at the vineyard — at least compared with many of the concerts attended by baby boomer audience members in their younger days. Children and teenagers sat on blankets and beach chairs alongside their parents and grandparents, who sipped Peconic Bay chardonnay and merlot and Blue Point beer.

“I hope that we are able to continue this festival and mark 2010 in the great history of our town as the year a great cultural music event was born,” said event organizer and former Southold supervisor Josh Horton.

Festival organizers were in a brief dispute with Southold Town last week over the concert’s size. Mr. Horton and vineyard manager Jim Silver took the town to state court after it threatened to limit parking and to shut the music down early, among other measures. The court sided with concert organizers.

Attendance numbers, which Mr. Horton estimated to be 600 to 800 people at any given time, were right where he said they’d be.

One of the highlights for Mr. Horton was watching his 5-year-old son learn to hula hoop just as Devon Allman, son of musician Gregg Allman, took the stage.

“Step into [a] hoop, turn on that tune and the let the spirit of a 5-year-old and soul of an Allman take over,” Mr. Horton said.

Many of those attending said they’d seen the acts, such as Mr. West, perform several times in the past. John “Sparkey” Abrandt of Huntington said he first saw Mr. West in the 1960s in a Long Island bar called the Busted Buzzard.

“He was playing different music then,” he said. “They were a big stage production.”

Legendary performer Richie Havens, who opened the seminal Woodstock concert in 1969, was also a big draw. However, the biggest complaint was that Mr. Havens’ set of three songs was too short.

“He still has the voice,” said Cutchogue resident David Scanlan.

Even the younger generations seemed to be enjoying the music.

“This is totally my scene,” said 26-year-old Monica Gerber of Coram.

Her friend, Brendan McNamara, 32, of Miller Place, who admitted he hadn’t heard of a single band performing that day, said the atmosphere reminded him of Woodstock, at least what he imagined Woodstock to be.

“I’m looking for a mud pit,” he said.

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