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By Ray Lemire, streamingoldies.com|
If you plan an event based on the anniversary of something truly historic, it makes sense to actually celebrate that anniversary at the site where the event took place – doesn’t it?
You Can Never Go Home Again Anymore
Not so fast. The defining moment of the sixties generation may be gearing up for a 40th anniversary but one of the co-promoters of the 1969 event is thinking of celebrating it in a completely different location and most certainly without the same aura – but at least it would still be free ... Big Deal. ...
Woodstock is turning 40 and co-founder Michael Lang wants to celebrate with a free, green concert this summer – possibly in New York City – if he can find some sponsorship.
"It's free, but it costs a lot of money," Lang told Billboard.com about resurrecting the famed 1969 music festival, which for those too young to recall the event wasn’t held in Woodstock but rather in Bethel, NY.
"Depending on how successful we are in raising that sponsorship [money] will determine when and how we do this event - or if we do this event, frankly."
Speaking of those who fall into the "I wasn't even born yet" category, here is a short primer. On August 15-17, 1969, the small village of Bethel, NY (population 5,000) became the third largest city in the state. In a time of war, demonstrations, riots, racial and social unrest, over 400,000 people came from across the nation to converge on Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm for three days of peace, love and music.
Many parked as far as ten miles away. Some were called flower children or hippies, some just wanted to party before being called to fight in an overseas war (sound familiar?), and others were just curious. But together, they showed the world that people of all races, creeds, religions and social backgrounds could co-exist without violence.
Through pouring rain, without adequate food or water, medical or sanitation facilities, the members of this unique "family" helped their fellow man. It created a moment that would change their lives as well as those of future generations.
Despite the drugs and sex, Woodstock's basic message or intent was Peace, Love and Harmony. Concerts such as Woodstock and the 60's revolution in general asked the basic question – "Why can't the world live in peace?" – and sent a clear message to the "establishment" or ruling powers that war was not the answer. All who were there – and those who weren't – have one thing in common. Each of us were touched by the "Woodstock Experience."
Lang said that musically a 2009 Woodstock would go "back to its roots. There would be a lot of legacy bands – the Who, Santana, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker maybe. And it would be people like Steve Earle and Ben Harper. There's certainly room for the (Red Hot) Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews. That would be the shape of the music."
The Chili Peppers, of course, closed the ill-fated 30th anniversary concert in 1999, which was marred by complaints about the facilities, food and water prices and ended with a fiery riot. But Lang said he was confident that the Woodstock brand was not permanently damaged.
"I think it always hearkens back to the '69 event, somehow," he said. "When people think [of Woodstock] they don't think '99 or '94. They think [of] the '69 event. I think  has its ramifications, but I don't think it did any real damage in that sense."
Lang added that reports of a concurrent "German Woodstock" festival in Berlin, possibly at the now-closed Tempelhof airport, were, "premature but still is kind of a thought."
Here's the problem – the choice of holding an anniversary celebration in New York City aside. You can't recapture that moment regardless of the location – and you can forget the original site because corporate America has already chopped off the top of that memorable and magic field as seen above. It was a unique moment in time when people actually worked together for a common cause and that cause was peace. Plus, the music of that era was incredible. If the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gets involved with this, we'll all be looking at Madonna and Run-DMC with $10 bottles of water.
One final thought. Lang spoke of ruining the "Woodstock brand." Since when does something as significant as that August weekend become a "brand"? Anyone labeling it as a brand and looking for sponsors to promote a contrived and generic party wasn't paying attention in 1969.
The Original Stage Marker
With the 'blight' on top of the hill
Reprinted courtesy of http://www.streamingoldies.com/
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[27 March 2009]
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