When Donna Surface told Pat Surface, “Baby, I’d follow you to the ends of the earth,” she never guessed it would’ve led the “card-carrying hippie” from Florida to Ely.
The two are now part of the musical group, “American Pie,” and will perform their show, “Feelin’ Alright,” at the Backus Community Center on Friday.
A multi-media variety show produced as a 50th-anniversary tribute to the 1969 Woodstock festival, “Feelin’ Alright” is performed by Pat Surface and American Pie, made up of Donna Surface, Greg Kazcor, Mary LaPlant, Butch Schmidt and Marina Whight. The tribute will include humor, videos of the Woodstock performances and the 500,000 mud-soaked hippies, and a trivia segment with prizes.
The show was written by Donna Surface, who worked for Michael Lang, the producer of Woodstock, in New York City when she was about 20 years old and on a semester break from college.
“My job was many jobs, it was an extraordinary time for me,” she said.
She called herself a “step and fetch it,” getting coffee and doing general secretarial work, but soon found herself immersed in a world of rock stars and experienced first-hand the phenomenon of Woodstock from behind the scenes.
She never went back to college, staying in New York and pursuing music and theater. The city transformed her.
“I was a hippie, I was a card-carrying New York City hippie,” Surface said.
She was absolutely fascinated by the culture of Woodstock and hearing her speak about the festival today, her excitement is still tangible.
“A half a million of us mellowed out in the music and mud for three days. Half a million people. No chaos, no conflict,” she said of the festival, “It was like a sense that everyone was in this together.”
Surface decided to write “Feelin’ Alright” as her own sort of nostalgic event tribute, one that all ages would be able to enjoy.
“I wrote “Feelin’ Alright” as an entertaining tribute to Woodstock 1969, the historic event that defined a culture and could never be duplicated,” she said.
It is emotional for her, she said.
“I emcee the show with vivid stories that transport you to the euphoric environment where 500,000 hippies mellowed out in the music and the mud,” she said.
The show is not just comprised of musical numbers, but also historical videos, as well as an interactive trivia segment.
To Surface, the use of video is important to show the atmosphere of the festival.
“The videos kind of turn the lens back at the audience and the impromptu city that grew up overnight on a farm in upstate New York,” she said.
Her former boss, Michael Lang, had been attempting to put on a Woodstock 50th anniversary festival for the better part of 2019, but due to crowd safety concerns and investors pulling out, the festival plans were scrapped.
Surface had so many stories and secrets about the event that she wanted to share with the world — fellow hippies and non-hippies alike — that this production seemed like the perfect tribute.
One of her favorite secrets revealed in “Feelin’ Alright” was that Jimi Hendrix wasn’t Lang’s first choice to close the festival. Roy Rogers, “The Singing Cowboy,” was.
“Michael had this image of Roy Rogers galloping up on Trigger, hopping on the stage, and singing ‘Happy Trails’ to thousands of hippies. It didn’t happen because Roy Rogers’ manager thought Woodstock would be a waste of time. Oops. We do perform ‘Happy Trails’ in our show,” she said.
She described the show as a “kind of a once in a lifetime thing — we won’t be around for the 100th anniversary.”