“I had this weird idea to do a tribute to Woodstock.”
In 2004, Allan Spielman was getting disenchanted with the bar scene on Long Island and was looking for a new way to share the classic music he loved to play. His “weird idea” took form initially as small shows in homage to classic festivals. Local musicians (Roger Silverberg and Hank Stone, to name a few) jumped on the bandwagon and it began to take the shape of a multi-act, feel-good event.
Charity became part of their second show, which coincided with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “We put out some buckets and raised a little money,” recalls Spielman. Seeing an opportunity to give back to the community and also get some bigger crowds, he started getting involved with local charities and seeking out local businesses to sponsor the events.
Since, Retrofest has grown into a staple of the Long Island music scene. Festival tribute shows occur several times a year and boast 20-30 local tribute acts, along with a house band. Retrofest is entirely volunteer-run and usually gets corporate sponsors, so there’s very little overhead and a huge percentage of money goes right to charity. “We recently hit the 40k mark,” Spielman states proudly.
Retrofest supports LI charities like Bobbi and the Strays (AKA the Freeport Animal Shelter) and Long Island Crisis Center—charities that tend to get involved and for whom a little money goes a long way. “Retrofest has been a marvelous opportunity to raise awareness in the community about the critical and unique life-saving services provided by Long Island Crisis Center, in addition to raising much needed funds. We are extremely honored and appreciative to be included,” says Long Island Crisis Center’s executive director, Linda Leonard.
Catch up with Retrofest and its philanthropic festivities this summer at Bartini in Babylon. On August 25th, house band Retro69 will play, along with a number of other acts, to commemorate Woodstock. All proceeds will go to benefit Bobbi and the Strays.
For more information on Retrofest, check out retrofestival.org.