Salinas, CA, August 07, 2019 — The year 1969 was a momentous one for music, popular culture and world events. Richard Nixon became president, Charles Manson went on his murderous spree, the Woodstock Music Festival raised its freak flag to half a million blissful hippies, man walks on the moon, The Beatles released its classic “Abbey Road” album and the dark side of the ’60s showed its face at the Rolling Stones’ disastrous concert at Altamont Speedway.
These six iconic events form the framework for musician/actor Mark Shilstone-Laurent’s original, multi-media, interactive show “Celebration ’69,” which opened earlier this year and concludes with three shows Sept. 13, 14 and 15, at the Carl Cherry Center for the Arts in Carmel.
“I think it’s a pretty fun show, especially for the Boomers. It really is unique,” said Shilstone-Laurent, a longtime local actor and musician, who has taught speech at Hartnell since 1996. “I try to make it feel like a party, not a play.”
Each section is illustrated with photographs and other images projected on a background screen, with Shilstone-Laurent providing narration and leading a five-piece band playing popular music from that year. “It encapsulates the whole year in one two-hour show,” he says.
The opening number, Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” perfectly summarizes and sets up the show, with music from, among others, The Who, Moody Blues, Neil Young, Santana, Fleetwod Mac, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Allman Brothers, Janis Joplin, Elton John, Chicago, Michael Jackson, the Jackson Five, as well as, of course, the Rolling Stones, providing the soundtrack of that year.
Shilstone-Laurent uses many black and white photographs from his “oldest, dearest friend” from high school, rock lensman and journalist Stephen Robert Caraway, who passed away in 2015, but left a treasure chest of iconic images from rock ’n’ roll’s biggest stars from as far back as 1967. He said the show is a memorial to Caraway’s photos as well as his spirit that never really lost track of what the ’60’s tried to be all about — peace and love.
Joining Shilstone-Laurent, who is the lead singer and plays guitar, in the band will be drummer Rod “The Mod” Wilson, bassist Jeff Covell, guitarist Justin Noseworthy, and lead guitarist Dustin Carroll.
In addition to the six iconic events that provide the framework, audiences will learn about countless other major happenings that made 1969 such a unique year: Edward Kennedy severely damages his political future by driving off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island; a giant oil spill fouls the beaches of Santa Barbara and a polluted river in Cleveland literally catches fire, giving birth to the environmental activism movement; the largest anti-war protests in American history take place in November and December; police raid a gay bar in New York City — The Stonewall Inn — and for the first time meet fierce resistance, giving birth to the gay rights movement; “Star Trek” airs its final episode and “Sesame Street” its first, and on and on. All told, quite a year.
Shilstone-Laurent has been a longtime performer in the local theater and music scenes. He has taught speech since 1977 and at Hartnell College since 1996. He has also owned a job listing service for jobs in television news, which he sold in 2013. A Salinas resident, he and his wife Adrienne, who works for the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System and is a former local news anchor, have three grown sons.
“It’s an interactive show, so I encourage the audience to sing along all night and hopefully people will jump in and make it a party,” said Shilstone-Laurent.
For more information or to buy tickets for the final three shows, go to brownpapertickets.com or carlcherrycenter.org. For more information and pictures from recent performances, go to celebration69.com.
Marci Bracco Cain
Salinas, CA 93901