I spent a memorable 24 hours at the Woodstock Festival in August of 1969,about 44 years ago this weekend.We were driving up from Philadelphia,arriving in the area of Bethel,NY on the Friday evening in time for a swim in one of the cool lakes dotting the area.We had quite a walk into the Festival grounds,finally arriving on Saturday morning only to find the fences were down and there was nobody to collect our tickets(whatever happened to those tickets?).As we positioned ourselves on the hillside,the music began in earnest again with Santana,who I was pretty familiar with from the previous Summer in Central Park and S.F.Longshoreman’s Hall.
There were some nice solo sets from John Sebastian and Country Joe McDonald with a lively set of numbers like 6 Days on the Road which I referred to at the time as Truck-Drivin’ music.There was a great set fom the Keef Hartley Band,Blues-Rock horn band from John Mayall alumnae.Wally and I went down in front of the stage for a pretty lackluster set by the Dead,imagine a couple of Deadheads tryin’ to exhort the 400,000 folks behind us to get the party goin’ to Lovelight only to hear a chorus of Siddown!Soon after,we were overjoyed to be close for the Incredible String Band.Mountain was quite good and had a good rapport with the crowd from New York due to Leslie West’s past with the Vandals from Long Island.
Night-time brought more of the well-known sets from the film like Creedence,Ten Years After,Joe Cocker,Janis Joplin with her new band,The Who,mostly doing Tommy with a nice showdown between Pete Townsend and Abbie Hoffman who was attempting to interlope.The highlight of the night had to be Sly and the Family Stone who got the multitudes dancing for sure.Dawn brought a righteous set from the Airplane (Grace:Good Morning People!) with Volunteers of America joined by Nicky Hopkins on keys.
Back in 1970,I was living and working in Stroud,Gloucestershire and we used to go into London on the train for our music fix.There were amazing shows all over the place in those days and we seemed to go to many areas of the city.Some of the more memorable shows were at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm and Royal Albert Hall.At the Roundhouse,we indulged in a little dosage before experiencing John Cale and Nico opening for Pink Floyd.At Royal Albert Hall we caught an amazing show by the Band at their prime as well as Mott the Hoople at a later date.We used to go to a club called Cousins in Soho on Wardour St.to see folk music like John Martyn.Other singer-songwriter shows were at another Royal Concert venue with James Taylor and Gordon Lightfoot.Once we went way up to Islington to see Elton John in a club setting.There was a huge outdoor concert at the Crystal Gardens with the Faces and Yes opening for Pink Floyd with their 360%speaker placement.
In the Sixties,I was living in Houston where there was a really cool nightclub downtown called Love Street Light Circus.They had a trippy area in front of the stage with big pillows on the floor where you could groove to the bands.We would be down there most weekends for the best local music like the Conqueroo,Shiva’s Headband,Bubble Puppy(they had a national hit called Hot Smoke and Sassafras),and Johnny Winter.Once before he got discovered by Steve Paul,Johnny impressed Janis Joplin so much that she tried to recruit him for her new band.One time after the 13th Floor Elevators played,the guys in the band decamped to our house on West Main,where Roky Erickson convinced me to “loan” him my copy of the 2nd Velvet Underground album(which of course I never saw again).
39 years ago,I went to Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic in Dripping Springs,Texas outside of Austin.The lineup was quite impressive with guests ranging from Waylon Jennings,Kris Kristofferson with Rita Coolidge,to my favorite of the day:Charlie Rich,Mohair Sam himself.This was before Behind Closed Doors came out,but Charlie had quite a bevy of young ladies of the cast-iron curls persuasion cheering him on.Of course Willie himself ruled the roost and showed how he had Texas in the palm of his hand at that point in time.I was hawking my freshly printed T for Texas shirts,which went over quite well.
Little Feat was always one of my favorite bands ever since they came into existence.I was thinking about all the shows from the old days on Lowell George’s birthday a couple of days ago.They used to play Liberty Hall in Houston on a regular basis,usually on a co-headlining gig with Bonnie Raitt (who had a compact group back then with Freebo on Bass).Little Feat was almost considered our band in those days,what with songs like the Texas Rose Cafe.I guess they were appreciated likewise in other Locales like Baltimore and Atlanta.When I moved up to Chicago in ’73,they used to play at the Aragon Ballroom which was where they recorded their incredible live album Waiting for Columbus,a career retrospective double record.I somehow missed Lowell’s solo gig at the Park West and he died soon after that.His song Willin’ is always a favorite at the clubs I frequent so he’s never forgotten.
We were residing in Stroud,Gloucestershire from late Summer 1970(right after the Isle of Wight,more on that later) till the Fall of 1971.We would go into Bristol to catch some phenomenal shows in that era.My favorites were Ike and Tina Turner (she could sure handle a microphone),The Byrds in one of their final aggregations (love that Lover of the Bayou),The Kinks and Terry Reid,Derek and the Dominoes,and the Rolling Stones in the Mick Taylor era.