Bert Sommer


El festival de Woodstock tuvo dos contrincantes: Country-folk versus Rock and blues. Los primeros se quejaron amargamente de la caña que daban los segundos, más violentos y contrarios al espíritu hippy. Los Incredible String Band británicos llegaron a quejarse en público de ello. Bert Sommer era folkie. No pasó a la historia. Solo tiene dos discos, pero este "Jennifer" es un temazo. Os recomiendo que lo escuchéis. Es de lo mejor de aquel Woodstock. Especialmente su pelo cardado y rizado, como el de la mujer negra que aparece en las imágenes, con el pelo teñido de blanco. Es lo estéticamente más intenso que he visto en el festival, junto a los niños desnudos tocando los instrumentos de los músicos en el descanso, y que sirvió para la portada de los vinilos de Woodstock, o la gente bañandose desnuda, o tirándose al fango.
Aquí os incluyo en inglés un comentario sobre aquella actuación de Sommer, un texto que dedico al chico argentino apasionado de este músico que se sorprendió al ver algo de él en un blog: It was 8:20pm and just before sunset on day one, Friday August 15th, when the chance of a lifetime came for Bert. The rain hadn't started to mist on the crowd yet. The mood was still mellow and the timing was perfect. Woodstock's producer Artie Kornfeld couldn't even watch his young 20 year old star set up he was so nervous... this was too personal for him. He had signed & directed Bert's musical career almost from the very beginning and finally Bert was getting his first real taste of major concert exposure in front of close to a half a million people!

"The Road to Travel" on Capitol Records had been out a few months and they were in the studio recording his second album on Artie's new record label Eleuthera Records called "Inside Bert Sommer". The choice of songs to perform at Woodstock was difficult to say the least. Artie wanted some new material that would capture the attention of the Woodstock feeling ~ Bert had just recorded a cover of Simon & Garfunkle's "America" for the second album that was better than the original; Paul Simon has agreed and states "this was the best cover of my music by any performer". Bert got an incredible standing ovation after his version of 'America'. Years later Bert would joke about his Woodstock performance and tell people "Yeah, I got a standing ovation... on their way to the bathrooms!"

Bert was thinking of opening with something off the first album called 'Jennifer' ~ a song about love & emotional attachment. This was the 'fantasy song' he had written about Jennifer Warnes who was in the LA cast of "HAIR" with him and who also appeared as a regular on The Smothers Brothers hit TV show. Not that I had anything to do with his choice of songs; but I had just completed an album cover for Jennifer on London Records (Parrot Label) and used Bert's song lyrics about her to illustrate the back cover of that new release.

The Pennebaker film of Bert doing Jennifer from "Woodstock Diaries" isn't all that exists. Bert's whole pristine performance actually EXISTS today in the Warner Brother's vaults; but unreleased due to record company politics. Since Bert was on a different major record label ...Warners did not really want to promote his and other's 'lost' performances.

3 comentarios:

Guido dijo...

Muy bueno!! A mi me gusta su música pese a que lamentablemente esté casi en el olvido. Somos pocos los que lo conocemos.
Saludos desde Argentina!!

Susana dijo...

Genial Bert Sommer...y la canción de Jeniffer realmente trasmite lo que dice. La primera vez que lo oí, supe que era un buen descubrimiento

Carlos Jesús Monteverde Vega dijo...

Muy cierto, fue un gran descubrimiento. Pero no se entiende como un gran talento pudo pasar desapercibido durante buen tiempo hasta su muerte que fue en el 90 creo. Habra sido un asunto de disqueras? Por cierto en la mayoria de ediciones de woodstock aparecen santana, baez, hendrix, Joe cocker, entre otros, pero sommer no está. Ni siquiera en las ediciones de DVD