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.