James Taylor, Larry Coryell and the Woodstock Sound-Outs

June 24th, 2010

Ad in the Woodstock Aquarian for an August 8, 1970 Sound-Out

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.

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan: Backstory of Roots Cover

May 21st, 2010
Bob Dylan (born May 24) and John Sebastian

Bob Dylan (born May 24) and John Sebastian

In 1964 Doug Gilbert, a photojournalist on assignment for Look Magazine, came up to Woodstock, NY, to do a story on Bob Dylan. The folk singer was on the cusp of superstardom. The next two years saw Dylan release Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. Gilbert took a slew of photos, but Look never ran the story. Years later he unearthed the photos in a shoebox.

 On the cover of the Roots book at left, Dylan is pictured exiting the Café Espresso driveway onto Woodstock’s Tinker Street. Riding shotgun on Dylan’s Triumph Motorcycle is John Sebastian.

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 »

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