Conductor Andres Franco had a blast at Concerts in the Garden Saturday.

Alright, I’m going to say it. The Woodstock-themed Concerts in the Garden last Saturday was groovy. It was a happenin’, far out, psychedelic show that hit all the right buttons.

Concerts in the Garden has been going strong for 16 years now, making sure that people in Fort Worth don’t have one damn excuse for missing our city’s symphony performances. If you can’t make it to Bass Hall, then the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra has no problem pitching a tent and cracking open a cold beer with you. Yet another reason that Fort Worth may appear less stuck-up than the Big D: Concerts in the Garden is BYOB.

Staying true to the theme of the evening, the classic rock music of Janis Joplin, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, and many other icons filled the lush green fields of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden over the course of two fun-filled hours.


Everyone had gotten into the hippie theme with more than a few young women sporting folksy clothing, beads, and headbands. (I’m guessing Sister Hippie clothing store had an uptick in sales last week.)

Jeans ’n Classics, a group of musicians dedicated to attracting young audiences for symphony orchestras, provided the rock ’n’ roll talent for the evening.

The orchestra was noticeably at ease under the energetic baton of Andrés Franco, artistic director of Concerts in the Garden, and all of the orchestral arrangements by Peter Brennan, arranger and founder of Jeans ’n Classics, came off effortlessly from these veteran musicians — musicians who spend most of the year perfecting Herculean works like Mahler’s 5th symphony (which they performed last season). If these musicians looked like they were sweating, it was only because of the warm weather. Keys, electric guitar, electric bass, and drumset filled out the otherwise 19th-century instruments onstage.

Speaking of bass, the first set of “Somebody to Love” had a too much of it. After checking my ticket to make sure this wasn’t a Victor Wooten concert, the sound engineer found the right levels, and the rest of the show went off without a hitch.

Great vocals were provided by a top-notch quartet that included David Blamires, a two-time Grammy-winning vocalist who made his career performing with The Pat Metheny Group.

Franco clearly enjoyed the evening and expressed a connection with the time period that many audience members probably shared. “My parents were in their late teens in 1969, so I grew up listening to a lot of the artists that performed at Woodstock, and I have always loved the music!”