On August 9, at 7 p.m., join Weston Blelock, author of Roots of the 1969 Woodstock Festival: The Backstory to “Woodstock,” for a talk and book signing at the Inquiring Mind Bookstore and Cafe. Blelock will discuss the events—including the Sound-Out Music Festivals in Saugerties—that inspired Michael Lang’s Woodstock Festival of 1969. Also on the bill are FishCastle, a lively folk duo—Cyril Caster and Catherine Selin, from Landenberg, PA. Caster is a past producer of the Sound-Outs and has played and recorded with Big Joe Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Elvin Jones, Pete Seeger, David Blue and Nico. His singing partner, Catherine has performed with numerous choirs here and abroad. In 2006 she won the Virginia Harp Center Challenge for composition. The group play multiple instruments and are known for their diverse sound. Fans liken their music to the sounds of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Neil Young. The Inquiring Mind Bookstore is at the corner of Partition and Main Streets in Saugerties. The event is free and open to the public. For more info call 845-246-5775, visit www.woodstockarts.com or link to FishCastle Music on Facebook.
On August 13th the Historical Society of Woodstock (HSW) screened Jud Yalkut’s Clarence and Aquarian Rushes at Upstate Films. The first film is about Clarence Schmidt, a sculptor and sixties pop icon, and the second one is a documentary about the Woodstock Festival of 1969. The event was a fundraiser for the HSW. Over 75 attended on a very busy summer weekend.
Jud Yalkut, the filmmaker, was on hand to introduce the films and answer questions. Gerd Stern, who helped to produce Clarence, was also in attendance. Both films were made in the USCO tradition, meaning that they combined film with video plus special effects and live actors. Stern is the current president of USCO while Yalkut was the filmmaker-in-chief during the late sixties. The last time Yalkut and Stern were together was at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era exhibit in 2007.
At the reception immediately following the screening, FishCastle, comprised of Cyril Caster (folk musician and ’69 Sound-Out producer) and Catherine Braik Selin, entertained the audience with exquisite tunes.
In 1970, due to the impact of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, smaller events like the Woodstock Sound-Outs were increasingly shut down by New York State municipalities. The Town of Saugerties, in whose jurisdiction the Sound-Outs fell, put on its books a law preventing mass gatherings of 200 persons or more without a permit.
After Cyril Caster left in 1969, Ian Hain stepped up to co-promote the Sound-Outs with Pan Copeland. Hain made a number of improvements to the site, including the construction of a band shell. He was able to pull off several festivals in 1970 without a permit, before the local authorities caught up with him. But at the July 25, 1970 concert, a couple of sheriff’s deputies were stationed by the festival entrance gate, taking a careful count of those admitted. As soon as the tally went over 200, Hain—who still hadn’t managed to secure a permit—was arrested. The town lawyers kept his case in and out of the courts for the rest of the summer, and no other concerts were successfully staged. In September all charges against the promoter were finally dropped, but the season was over.
It was a great pity, for the headliners that summer would have included such icons as James Taylor and Larry Coryell. They are featured in the ad above, for an August 8, 1970 Sound-Out that had to be cancelled due to Hain’s legal difficulties.
The Woodstock Sound-Outs were mini-festivals after which Michael Lang modeled his mega event in 1969. They were held on Pan Copeland’s farm on the outskirts of Woodstock, New York, from 1967 to 1970. The stage was inches from the ground and the amphitheater was a former cow pasture. Over the years different producers partnered with Pan, but by 1969 a musician from Seneca Falls, NY, named Cyril Caster was tapped to head up the festival production team. That group became known as Coyote Productions. Bob Fass, Pan Copeland, Cyril and a couple of others were in charge of the enterprise.
By 1969 the Sound-Outs were officially renamed the Woodstock-Saugerties Sound Festival, or simply The Woodstock Festival. (That was one reason Michael Lang and his partners called their event the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair.) That season the Coyote team planned eight concerts, signing headliners like Van Morrison, Paul Butterfield, Cyril and his band, Tim Hardin, Chrysalis and Children of God. But due to inclement weather very few of the concerts were staged that year. When festival-goers heading to the Bethel event accidentally came to Woodstock, they were directed to Pan’s field. At least they could say they had attended The Woodstock Festival in Woodstock.