In The Course Of Entertaining Events

It looked like it had such a bright future. It had nostalgic promise. It was the perpetual gift which kept on giving. It had the ability to set trends, move the masses, and rev up a local economy like no other. It had tethered ties with history, adorned with culture.

But yesterday it died a horrible death after suffering an extended illness. And worse the obituary is still being crafted; yet no one seems to know exactly what to say. It should be fitting for long eulogies and touching epitaphs. Somehow I think people would not want mourning to replace the joy and whimsy it brought to some people.

What in the world am I talking about? Of course I mean the day that Woodstock 50 died. I am sure the earth is still quaking across the country. Is that over dramatic, you think?

Nah, not really. In fact, it probably is not emotional enough for some who were so looking forward to, once again, pulling a rabbit from a hat and exceeding expectations with a flowing theme of the people. (or that is the way it would have been portrayed)

Instead, there was a note of bitterness in this death. That as much change as has happened over years, they just could not meet or exceed expectations set 50 years ago this August.

It all goes back to the original promoter, Michael Lang, who managed to pull off the original event and a few since. But this one was to be the big one remembered for more years to come, in a theme reminiscent of the original but with a defiant we can do it again purpose. And Michael Lang was again going to be the notable promoter who, against all odds, managed to pull it all together. Or so the narrative was written anyway.

It was to be a remembered time in Watkins Glen, NY at first. The downfall was a chain of events from permitting and financing troubles that plagued it almost from day one. Meanwhile, the ever-persistent Michael Lang kept promising that the show would still go on, hearkening comparisons back to the original garden venue.

Well the story line and events did not line up like a moon shot. The earth did not pause in slow motion gratuity to allow it to happen. Some things in the end were just not meant to happen. Turns out that replication of some events can be almost impossible.

At the last minute, they were moving it to a Maryland venue. Well, that seemed like it would solve its major location hurdles until even that fell through. Some pre-scheduled artists, who were also left hanging during all the failing plans, decided if it were in Maryland instead of NY, they were out.

But before this lonely death on July 31, 2019, it was a weekly roller coaster of ups and downs, ins and outs and cancellations. Also plagued by a cadre of nagging safety and security concerns. Maybe organizers were hoping that the long odds would come through? Maybe as much publicity stunt as actual event? To charity event and voter registration?

Timeline of the ladder to doom is here on Vulture. Interesting. Latest installment:

Wave the White Flag

July 31, 2019: Pour one out for what almost (never) was. Woodstock 50 officially accepts defeat, announcing in a statement the festival’s cancellation (for good this time). “We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating,” Michael Lang writes. He confirms that the new plan was to have the festival be a benefit concert for the voter-registration charity HeadCount, but that it all fell apart due to losing the lineup. He continues, “We released all the talent so any involvement on their part would be voluntary. Due to conflicting radius issues in the DC area many acts were unable to participate
and others passed for their own reasons.” Woodstock 50 is now asking all artists originally booked — who’ve also already been paid — to donate 10 percent of their fees to HeadCount or “causes of their choice in the spirit of peace.”

In an additional statement, festival principal Greg Peck blamed original investor Dentsu Aegis for “throwing a wrench in our plans.” He claims that “some great artists came aboard over the last week to support Woodstock 50 — but time simply ran short.” Merriweather Post Pavilion operator Seth Hurwitz also said, “While we were able to quickly eliminate the venue portion of the challenge to present Woodstock, it was just too late in the game.”

This post has been updated throughout. [More]

 

No word on the final arrangements.

Could a farewell tribute be some version of “see you in court” played in key of F?

In a related metaphor, was this also a final obituary for Michael Lang’s reputation? Will this lay rest to any future plans for him?

Right Ring | Bullright

Music And Politics Sitting In A Tree

But let me start off with a made to order joke. Bless their little young hearts.

Sometimes I get a kick out of young people today, their naiveté still intrigues me. Even though they often seem ignorant of basic history. That is not all their fault.

So one day I was in a fast food place. The employees were having this discussion about the upcoming 50th anniversary of Woodstock. I couldn’t help listening because I was not doing anything except standing there waiting for my order.

All three of the guys were fairly young, and the only women was about middle-aged. She appeared to be schooling them on Woodstock, odd as that seemed to me at the time.

Then the one young guy ask her impatiently “well, was Hip Hop going on then, too, were they doing that?” I couldn’t resist cutting in to say, “they hadn’t even put those two words together yet” and I chuckled. They all looked at me with their upper wheels turning.

I looked at the guy who asked and said “ Man, they barely knew what rock and roll was back then. They were still breaking it in.” But then I saw his big eyes and knew that went right over his knowledge base and sailed into the deep. I smiled and walked away.

Dummy me, I thought maybe a joke would illustrate the point and further their discussion. But instead it ended it and left me wondering if it was my delivery that failed? And if it was some generational thing I crossed? At least I thought it was funny, they will probably never know if it was true, funny… or both?

Joined At The Hip

Say what you will about the original Woodstock which stole headlines some 5 decades ago this year. Those discussions are still going on, as I can testify. Organizers are planning a 50th anniversary to the Woodstock concert this year. But déjà vu all over again.

The original site in Bethel, NY has plans for an anniversary to memorialize the Max Yasgur Farm concert in ’69 and has already booked one top headliner, Carlos Santana.

But Michael Lang, one of the original promoters, has planned what he claims is the only original sanctioned anniversary celebration, which he announced will be in Watkins Glen, NY. In that one, political activism and sustainability will be a central theme for the event. And no doubt for the “woke” as well.

Not only is he drafting top talent, but also encouraging their political activism for the event too. So is this where Farm Aide and Woodstock exchange vows and officially tie the knot, joined in a river of political activism? No matter what the location, it will be billed as Utopia. Who knows if the National Anthem will even be allowed in this one? (old reference to Jimmie Hendrix) Or if maybe the Black Bloc and Antifa will do security for the event?

Take it from Lang himself: (CBS News January 11, 2019)

The festival will also evoke its predecessor through activism, with sustainability efforts and screenings, panels and art installations by non-profit organizations. “The Woodstock 50th Anniversary will be about sharing an experience with great artists and encouraging people to get educated and involved in the social issues impacting everyone on the planet,” said Lang.

“”We want this to be more than just coming to a concert,” Lang told The New York Times. “And hopefully a lot of the bands will become part of this effort to get people to stand up and make themselves heard, to get out [and] vote. And if they don’t have a candidate that represents their feelings, to find one — or to run themselves.”

From coming to sexual awareness to coming to political wokeness. Is that where mud baths come in? Is it where the white rabbit has a coup over the enchanted forest?

Okay, so music, history, or anniversary may not be the real motivation here. Political priorities, you know. No word whether any of the up and comers in presidential candidates are booking the event. They could have hours of speeches to a captive audience if they go all out. How nostalgic would that be? I don’t recall that was the message of Woodstock but that was then and this is now. What better place to grease the skids for socialism?

And now, being the radicalized leftist culture it is, supposedly on the rise, I can see it “and now a word from our movement icon, Bernie Sanders.” To which the crowd roars to their feet and gives him a fifteen minute standing ovation.

That could only be followed by another speech from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bringing home the Socialism message. And Michael Moore applauding waiting in the wings.

If you were one of the headliner bands, how on earth could you follow that bad acid trip? It also has me wondering what would be the definition of “success” for such a grand event? I guess you measure it in political success and, of course, by fundraising totals.

So Woodstock….you are finally 50, now how about growing the f*** up?

Right Ring | Bullright