The rumours were true! Woodstock Music and Art Festival will be back in 2019 to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The 3 day event will take place near the original site of the event, in the fields surrounding the Watkins Glen International, between August 16th and 18th 2019.
The Woodstock Festival was first held on August 15-18 in 1969 at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in the town of Bethel (outside of White Lake, New York). The Aquarian Exposition: Three Days of Peace and Music was a three-day concert which had to be rolled into the fourth day. The festival was a celebration of freedom and it became synonymous with the 1960s hippie counterculture.
The organizers of the Woodstock Festival were four young men: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, and Mike Lang. Kornfeld and Lang had originally envisioned a recording studio and a retreat for rock musicians up in Woodstock, New York. The concert was intended to idea raise capital to pay for the studio.
The first of many things to go wrong with the Woodstock Festival was the location. The original location of Wallkill did not want, obviously, an army of hippies assembling in their peaceful town. Luckily Max Yassir offered his 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York as the location for the Woodstock Festival. As the date got closer, more problems sprung up. It soon appeared that their 50,000 people estimate was way too low and the new estimate jumped to upwards of 200,000 people. Building the infrastructure became more bothersome as a result. Also troublesome was the last-minute ban on off-duty police officers from working at the Woodstock Festival. Two days before the festival was to begin there were already around 50,000 people camping near the stage. These early arrivals had walked right through the huge gaps in the fence where the gates had not yet been placed.
(Pic : Woodstock 1969)
Against all odds, the music at Woodstock started almost on time. Richie Havens officially started the Festival followed by other folk artistes like Sweetwater, Joan Baez. The music started around noon the next day and went on till the next morning. The day, 16th of August 1969, may as well go down in music history as one of the greatest. The day saw such psychedelic bands and musicians as Quill, Santana, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and The Who, to name just a few. This is what would be considered as Janis ‘Pearl’ Joplins’s best performance. The organisers were forced to get Janis to re-perform on public demand. Santana, who were yet to release their debut album, were the breakout act of the festival. The Who ticked the boxes when it came to being the loudest band on the planet at the time. The band teared into a seven-minute version of ‘My Generation’ that erupts in a fiery display of guitar heroics by Pete Townshend. The, supposedly, last day of the festival belonged to Jimi Hendrix. His version of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner‘ complete with guitar pyrotechnics blew the mind from thousands of feet away. The festival ended early morning on the fourth day which was unplanned.
(Pic : Woodstock Music & Arts fair 2019)
The Woodstock 50, as it is dubbed, will be a 3 stage affair. While no performers have officially been announced yet, it is believed that 40 artistes, including some big names, will be across the stages. The music will be a mix of Hip Hop, Rock, Pop and tributes to the legacies of the artistes from the original event.
Will the spirit of Woodstock be relived as the music festival marks it’s 50th anniversary of the “three days of peace and music” that marked the summer of 1969, only time will tell.