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'Old-timers' rock out at Great South Bay Music Festival in Patchogue

Fans watch as the band Miles To Dayton

Fans watch as the band Miles To Dayton performs during the Great South Bay Music Festival on Sunday. Credit: Michael Owens

Sunday was Old-Timers Day at the Great South Bay Music Festival, a rocking throwback to the 1960s and ‘70s starring some of the most influential musicians from that era.

Sunday’s sold-out show — the lineup included former Allman Brothers Band guitar king Dickey Betts, an electrifying Hot Tuna and swamp rock masters Little Feat — also provided an opportunity for music lovers who came of age during the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations to strut their stuff through Shorefront Park in Patchogue.

“Anyone here under the age of 60 is probably with their parents,” cracked Pat McHugh, 61, of Huntington.

During the festival, which was co-sponsored by Newsday, pink-haired Cheryl Schruefer of Hicksville seemed to generate smiles wherever she went as she walked through the park on stilts and a robe that made her look like a 12-foot butterfy.

“This crowd is amazing,” Schruefer said as she posed for a photo with Theresa Martin of Speonk. “So friendly and so fun. You can tell they are really into the music, it’s a chill crowd that loves to dance, men and women.”

Stephen Hurtes of Plainview, meanwhile, strolled past vendors selling jewelry and Grateful Dead gear with his friend Gloria Olivera. Hurtes wore a cabana shirt featuring art from the Rolling Stones’ 1978 album “Some Girls.”

“I love the attention. Everybody stops me to say, ‘I love your shirt.’ It drives her crazy,” Hurtes said, nodding at Olivera, who howled with laughter.

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Jeff Kay of Franklin Square sported a T-shirt that said, “If you don’t know Jorma, you don’t know Jack,” a reference to Hot Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady.

“It’s hard to say how many times I’ve seen Hot Tuna, but I’m a loyal fan. I go all the way back to the Commack Arena. I’ve been seeing Hot Tuna for 40 years,” said the 57-year-old, referring to the now-defunct venue once located on Veterans Highway.

“I go back to the midnight shows at the Palladium,” he added, referring to the also-defunct Manhattan music hall. “They’d play five, six, seven hours. You’d walk out and the sun would be up.”

The afternoon started out warm and humid and the skies off Great South Bay were overcast. But a refeshing sea breeze soon blew the clouds away.

Business at the Wake and Bake booth was brisk, said Carolyn Michelitsch, the owner of the Rocky Point-based bakery, as wisps of marijuana smoke drifted by.

“I’ve been smelling that all weekend,” she said, laughing. “We have been meeting all their munchies needs.”

Ellen Pellegrino of Mount Sinai, who hosts a cable TV show that focuses on spirituality called “Age of New Beginnings,” said days filled with music and friends can be an important tool for those seeking deeper lives.

“It’s all about letting go, about being open to amazement,” Pellegrino said. “It’s about letting go and having fun. What we are meant to do is be happy and this is a happy place.”


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