Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals headline music festival at Copper Mountain Resort
IF YOU GO
What: Copper Country
When: Saturday, Sept. 5 and Sunday, Sept. 6
Where: Copper Mountain Resort
Cost: All shows are free
Other events: The Country Showdown Colorado Finals return Sunday, Sept. 6 at 12 p.m. The Country Showdown begins each spring with over 450 local talent contests sponsored by country music radio stations throughout the nation. Winners advance to their respective state competitions then compete for a $1,000 prize, the State Title and the opportunity to advance to one of five Regional Finals.
The Arts and Artisan Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday featuring local and regional artists across Copper’s Center Village. Free activities for the kids such as pony rides and arts and crafts are available all weekend long near West Lake Overlook, Center Village.
Saturday, Sept. 5 Schedule
Main Stage - Saturday
• Noon - The Long Players
• 1:15 p.m. - Savannah Jack
• 2:30 p.m. - Orleans
• 4:10 p.m. - Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals
West Lake Stage
• 5:45 p.m. - Savannah Jack
• 7 p.m. - Campfire with Randall McKinnon
• 8:30 p.m. - Fireworks
Sunday, Sept. 6 Schedule
• 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - Art and Artisan Festival
Main Stage - Sunday
• Noon - Country Showdown (Colorado Finals)
• 1:15 p.m. The Long Players
• 2:30 p.m. - Buckwheat Zydeco
• 3:50 p.m. - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
• 5:25 p.m. - Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-a-Whirl Band
• 5:45 p.m. - Country Showdown Awards
As a singer-songwriter for the last 50 years, Felix Cavaliere has had a front-row seat in a rapidly-changing music industry.
To be sure, it was a technologically simpler world when he first began making music. But, it isn’t just Internet streaming or iPods that have shifted the musician’s world.
He has observed that fewer artists today are supporting the causes they believe in with their music.
“Those of us that come out of that era, we were very socially conscious,” he said. “I think it’s very different than it is now; the onus today, unfortunately, is on making money and that has to do with everyone, not just the business people who you expect that of, but the musicians as well.”
His career began its ascent in 1965 — the year the Voting Rights Act passed, the year Malcolm X was assassinated, the Vietnam War raged and the space race broke into to a sprint.
After forming the Young Rascals with Dino Danelli, Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish, Cavaliere’s band soon caught the attention of manager Sid Bernstein, who is also known for bringing The Beatles to the United States. They signed with Atlantic Records, changing their name to just The Rascals. “Good Lovin’” became a No. 1 hit quickly after in February 1966. The band produced a string of hits over the next few years, such as “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “Groovin’,” a No. 1 in 1967, “How Can I Be Sure,” “A Girl Like You,” “A Beautiful Morning” and “People Got to Be Free,” a No. 1 in 1968.
In those days, Cavaliere said, there was a different attitude about the world and bringing people together with music.
“The perfect example is John Lennon, what he was trying to do with Yoko,” he said. “It wasn’t necessary for us to do that, but it was important for us to do that, to take a cause, whatever that might be, and just kind of herald it and try to tell people, ‘Look, in case you want to know where we stand, this is where we stand.’ Today, I feel like people avoid that because they don’t want to alienate the other sides of the argument. That wasn’t the case then; people like us, we actually campaigned for people, went out on the road for people. … We were involved.”
As time went on, he said, musicians began to realize that music is a business. However, “I always felt that music had a purpose in people’s lives,” he said.
A PIANIST BY AGE 5
He started playing at the age of five because his mother wanted him to be a classically-trained pianist. He continued playing but never thought of music as a career path. As a pre-med student playing at parties, the idea of becoming a professional musician took hold, and, with his father’s blessing, he eventually dropped out of his New York college to pursue his passion full time.
Cavaliere grew up listening to Alan Freed on New York’s first rock ’n’ roll station WINS. Freed is referred to as the “father of rock ’n’ roll” due to his promotion of the style and coining of the phrase.
“I heard all the beginnings of the great, early rock ’n’ roll constituents, so I’m talking about Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, everybody,” Cavaliere said. “It was the beginning of what was to become a popular music. I was really influenced by a lot of people … Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson. I learned the art of singing by listening to these great voices that were coming over the radio.”
During a time when civil rights were at the forefront of the political debate, Freed worked to promote African-American artists on radio stations in the 1950s. Cavaliere’s work also championed that cause. The Rascals’ music, he said, always crossed the border into both worlds, and he pushed to bring African American acts to the stage with them.
“We worked with Sly and the Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, some great groups,” he said. “The audience is the one that really benefits from it; they get a great show. That happened because of a group that opened up for us one night — they came backstage and said, ‘Thank you so much for including us; we never get a chance to play for white audiences, and our records cross over into that market.’”
Cavaliere began to demand African-American acts to perform at their concerts, which he said caused a firestorm.
“I didn’t realize that people were that angry,” he said. “They’re angry. Well, what are you angry about — it’s just music man, just music.”
THE MAN, THE HUMANITARIAN
He was honored at the 40th annual WhyHunger Chapin Awards Gala on Tuesday, June 23 with the ASCAP Harry Chapin Legacy Award for his humanitarian contributions.
“I know that music transcends all boundaries,” he said. “We work in countries that have major language barriers; they do not understand what we say, but they feel what we say. As part of my show, in the very last segment I do ‘People Got To Be Free,’ which I’m very proud to say in those days was a No. 1 hit in places that were oppressed all over the world. I’m talking about, in those days, Hong Kong, we’re talking about Berlin, we’re talking about South Africa. People have responded to the message and the energy that comes along when you talk about things such as freedom, whether it be as a social cause, as a political cause, or just as a mental, kind of like ‘Leave me alone’ cause … I always felt that music was very healing, and that’s what I was supposed to be doing.”
His 50-year career includes a lengthy list of accolades, including Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriter Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Grammy Hall of Fame. While he says he’s proud have been granted status in all of these, there’s an awful lot of people who haven’t been added but deserve to be.
“That’s why we have to take it with a grain of salt,” he said. “You’re very fortunate to be nominated, that’s the hard part. … But we have nothing to say about the nomination process. That’s what I’d like to change.”
NEW ERA, NEW TECHNOLOGY
In May of this year, he sat in with Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden for one song. On his way back to the hotel from the show, he decided to call his daughter to tell her how much fun he had. She had already seen his performance on Facebook.
“The generation that I come from, we did not have the Internet and the Facebooks and the iPhone, the Twitters — stuff like that,” he said. “Believe it or not, our mode of communication was music.”
These days, he still works to speak to his audience through his music and bring them back to a different time.
“People of our age group would listen to the music from all over … and they would grow up with one another, they would go through their love affairs and their divorces and their experiences of good and bad collectively,” he said. “That’s what we do when we work — we try to grab those people’s subconscious and bring them back to that time period, musically and, of course, verbally and connect.”
Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals will be headlining Copper Country on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 4:10 p.m. Copper Mountain Resort will host two days of free live music and an arts festival over the Labor Day weekend, with Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-A-Whirl Band featuring Lou Ann Barton closing out the night Sunday, Sept. 6. Other musical artists include Buckwheat Zydeco, Orleans, The Long Players, Savannah Jack and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Check out Saturday’s paper for an artist profile on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
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