Bert Sommer – the least well-known artist to perform at Woodstock. Bert played a 10 song set on opening day of Woodstock, including a rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”which was reported to be the only song at Woodstock to get a standing ovation (have to think about that one, everyone was already standing, it was bring your own chair). Bert’s performance has been mostly ignored in any of the documentaries, it’s claimed that his performance is still in the archives but not included in the Woodstock histories simply because he was signed to Capital Records at the time and Warner Brothers was the official  record company of the festival.

Bert’s first appearance on the national music scene was when he replaced lead singer Steve Martin in The Left Banke, the group who had already had their biggest two hits. Bert and the Michael Brown, the brains behind the group, combined to write the B side of their next single “And Suddenly”. It would later be a minor hit by The Cherry People in the summer of 1968.

Bert playing Woof in the original Broadway production of “Hair” in 1969 and 1970. He also wrote “We’re All Playing In The Same Band” based on his Woodstock experience. The song would reach #48 in September of 1970, his only charting hit. Bert’s message of we’re all in this together is just as relevant today as it was then. The 17 year old that fell in love with this song back then is still very much with me some 49 years later. Described as a gentle soul but musically brilliant, Bert passed away of a respiratory illness in 1990.

There are 3 albums of Bert’s work hanging out somewhere – I found one in it’s entirety on Youtube. There is also an excellent website dedicated to Bert: Bert Sommer