Remembering Woodstock

January 19th, 2010

Remembering WoodstockRemembering Woodstock provides a fine assessment of the roots and cultural fallout of the Woodstock festival. This is accomplished via scholarly essays by a number of music and media academics from the UK and the Commonwealth. The one anomaly is the commentary from Country Joe McDonald, an American folk/rock performer who appeared at WOODSTOCK. The book is edited by Andy Bennett, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Surrey. The book was published in the UK by Ashgate in 2004 and is available on Amazon. 

Dave Laing, the first essayist in Remembering Woodstock, writes that the “Woodstock festival was a part of a distinct history of (non-classical) outdoor music festivals stretching back to the early twentieth century. The earliest festivals were rural events, often celebrating local styles and skills in music and folk dance.” He goes on to suggest that the Georgia Fiddlers Convention held in Atlanta in 1913 was one of the first such events.

That may be, but as Michael Lang, co-creator of the Woodstock Festival of 1969, so succinctly says in Roots of the 1969 Woodstock Festival: The Backstory to “Woodstock, the festival was named the Woodstock Music and Art Fair because he intended to stage the festival in Woodstock, NY. Secondly, he wanted to reference the Maverick Festivals held from 1915 through 1931 in the Woodstock area. These weekend-long classical music and art events often drew thousands to the festival grounds. For more on the Maverick Festivals see Anita M. Smith’s Woodstock History and Hearsay.

George McKay, another essay writer for Remembering Woodstock, suggests that the Beaulieu Jazz Festivals in England were precursors or mini Woodstocks that helped to pave the way for festivals in the UK. Woodstock, NY’s own mini folk/rock festivals (Sound-Outs) were considered by many a suburban myth until 2009. But Roots of the 1969 Woodstock Festival was able to persuasively document the Sound-Outs through photos of contracts, players and playbills. It was these concerts that helped to launch the mega festival in 1969. For more on this click here. Also, check out Wikipedia for an article on the Woodstock Sound-Outs.

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