1969: The (Other) Woodstock Festival

February 11th, 2010
Cyril Caster in 1974

A Photo of Cyril Caster from 1974

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.

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Roots Celebrates Tim Hardin’s Birthday!

December 23rd, 2009
Tim Hardin's Woodstock Piano

Tim Hardin's Woodstock Piano; Remembering Tim on 12/23

Tim Hardin (1941-1980) moved to the Woodstock area in 1968 with his wife Susan Morss and his young son Damion. Already the town was a thriving music destination— with The Band, Bob Dylan, the Mothers of Invention, Richie Havens and the Blues Magoos in residence. It is said that Hardin, of all the songwriters in early 1960s Greenwich Village, was the best. His first album, recorded for Verve in 1966, yielded such tunes as “Reason to Believe,” which was covered by Rod Stewart, and “Hang On To a Dream” which became a staple for The Nice. In the aftermath of this release Bob Dylan referred to Hardin as the best songwriter alive.

It was with Tim Hardin 2, his second album, that the songwriter released “If I Were a Carpenter,” his most memorable song. Also on the album were such tunes as “Black Sheep Boy” and “Lady Came from Baltimore.” During an eight-month period from 1965 to 1966 some of his best-known songs were written on a piano in his room in Los Angeles. By the time Hardin moved to Woodstock his career was taking off.  Read the rest of this entry »