Yesterday the news hit the stands with headlines across every major media outlet like, ‘WOODSTOCK 50 CANCELLED—promoters insist the show must go on’.
And for the last 24 hours, the stories are flying and the questions arise and the truth remains… The music… The people… The issues of the times… The vision of the promoters… the Hog Farm… the place (in time and on the planet) created a slurpy mix of mud and music and peace and love and you cannot recreate that swirl.
You just can’t.
And whatever people want to say… Michael Lang, and the premier promoters of the original festival have never actually claimed they could do so. Michael has offered opportunities for the people to try. He has worked, almost as if by experiment, with the same template—to bring the biggest name acts current to the musical climate of the day and invite as many people that can fit… and let’s see!
“It’ll be a blast!”
And so we have been watching the story unfold… for fifty years. complete with two other anniversary shows, each with their own issues… we, The People, have already proven that the magic swirl isn’t something that can be manufactured just because tickets went on sale. And for that matter… the massive concerts that have followed in its footsteps… haven’t either. You can Bonaroo yourself right over to Cochella and it still ain’t Woodstock 69. And they never will be. But, especially if the brand is attached, you can bet the people have the opportunity to make it something awesome! Because… collaboration and vision sprinkled with magic…
And so here we are. Up against the wire on Woodstock 50. The funders had a pipe dream and blew it. Michael probably told them like he has told me personally… ‘We can throw a party. A big one. And what we are doing in celebrating an anniversary is just that. Celebrating an anniversary. Not recreating a fluke magical epic moment.’ Yes. I am paraphrasing. But I have had this conversation with him numerous times.
I wanted to be announcing this week, the multiple Anniversary shows Chogyi will be playing in August… But instead. I am writing about a corporate entity pulling out and announcing a cancellation with shaky legal standing to do so, sighting a claim they cannot make in good conscience. At the end of the day… only Michael and his original partners, can say what is suitable for the Woodstock Brand. Right?
Fifty years ago, Michael Lang set out with a vision to gather people en mass for a BIG concert that he, hoped might but, didn’t expect to become THE epic defining moment that it did. He had obstacles. And he had a stellar team—bolstered by The Late, Great and Incomparable, Lee Blumer, who Made. Shit. Happen. He had to find a new venue in mere weeks, erect a village which would unbeknownst to him at the time, turn into a city. And he frickin’ did it. So today, 24 hours after the news of funders stepping way out of line… we are faced with a fifty year later conundrum with elements not unlike the ones that made Michael Lang a veritable Rock and Roll Superstar.
I don’t doubt that he will pull something off that will leave the haters hating and the lovers loving, he has a way of finding a way…
And in the end… He can’t do it alone… it is still the people who make the magic swirl. Michael is an instigator. The people are the instigated. You can tickle me and I will laugh. But tickle me too much and I involuntarily kick. You can tickle someone else a tiny bit and they might clock you in the side of the head on purpose.
The notion that Michael Lang could reproduce an event that does the same as in 69 is a literal pipe dream (that I don’t believe Michael was even having) or perhaps a hallucinatory trip that makes one wonder if some of that brown Acid is still around.
Reading the hideous comments from supposed “peace love and 69ers” has been quite telling… If the people who combusted into an orgasmic pool of mud and glory back then can be such haters now, what can we expect from the “whiny entitled brats” (quoted from a boomer comment) at the 50th?
It has baffled me. That there is such a disconnect between generations, that many fail to see how proactive, conscious and platform-changing the young people of today are…
Listening to GraceLee Boggs last night, “Evolution is not linear… Times interact.” I thought about the bigger picture…
We are at an evolutionary crossroads… The people and the politics, the people and the environment, the people and the corporations… we are up against more than we bargained for, and at the end of the day… the Earth is not a bargaining chip.
Michael Lang and his partners, in every Woodstock Venture, have delivered the anthropological results of their experiments every time. In Bethel 69, the people turned a corporate venture with vision on its ass and made it an epic event like no other… Saugerties ’94 (the 25th) showed us that it didn’t have to be Live AID to bring outdoor concerts to mass scale, but its super expensive to do so. And Rome ’99 showed us that while Large Scale concerts could still be pulled off, venue, roster curation and water… matter.
Now, in 2019, we have a president who is literally an incoherent buffoon. The young people, who watched and listened, are getting the work done in the courts of law, as they fight for their right to a survivable planet… And the gang who has been clamoring for a free concert, realize that they too will likely buy tickets to any number of the ventures being offered.
Bethel Woods has invited us to celebrate on the original site, and so if you are seeking deep nostalgia… that might be the spot. Michael will bring a show to fruition… watch…
And whatever the outcome, the dream so many hold on to is not dead, whether a concert by the original promotors or at the original site… As my father used to say (and about the OG fest) “They cant hide us anymore…” So the question on my mind this afternoon… How do we want to be seen?
I hope to be everywhere at once, in all the spots, loving up everyone who comes for a party.
I had the fortune of speaking with Lisa Law last night after the announcement,… Listen to the conversation on The Same Boat Radio 4/29/19 here:
And you can read a little from the Havens camp on Facebook