Back to the Garden,Woodstock 1969

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.


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