Woodstock On Vinyl, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
For last week’s 40th anniversary of Woodstock, I spent a few hours in the studio listening to a vintage copy of the original 3-set Woodstock album on vinyl. Then Liz and I met up with a fellow group of geocachers at the Lake Harriet Band Shell for a potluck and the live music of Woodstock Re-Rocked.
Providence conspired in our favor. Liz’s “parking angels” were in full swing when we drove into the only spot left in the jammed lot next to the band shell. The wind shifted and ferocious bundles of black storm clouds heading straight for us diverted west. We opened our portable lawn chairs, slipped a few flowers in our hair, and rocked out to Santana, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, Canned Heat, and Jimi Hendrix.
Liz wore patchouli and a tie dye T-shirt. The air temperature was a cool 72 degrees and at dusk we wrapped up in blankets. The Music in the Parks concert event coordinator broke out in her version of Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz right before the outdoor screening of an expanded edition of Woodstock. Released on June 9, 2009 in Blu-Ray and DVD, the remastered 40th Anniversary Edition of the film features 19 new performances, adding two extra hours of rare footage.
- people who abandoned their cars walked an average of 15 miles to the stage
- 250,000 people never made it to Woodstock that day
- 17 miles of bumper to bumper traffic piled up
- $18 was the 3-day price of admission
- 18 doctors saw 6000 patients with 50 additional doctors flown in from NYC
- only 33 people were arrested for drug charges
- there were 15 cauldrons of rice-raisin combo made by Lisa Law and the Hog Farm
- 60 public telephones
- a lone 80 foot stage
- 150 volunteer cops, 346 NYC policemen who volunteered
- 450 unfenced cows
- 600 portable toilets
- 1300 lbs of food ferried in by emergency copters
- cost was $50,000 to use Yasgur’s farm
- 315,000 feet of film was shot, 120 hours straight through
- 1/2 million long distance calls made first day of festival
- 1/2 million franks eaten the first day
In 1996, the movie Woodstock was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” I was too young to attend the concert. But the year I entered high school, the movie Woodstock was released and 400,000 ripples from Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm could be heard echoing through the halls of Red Land. We are still celebrating the music 40 years later.
Yet I have to be honest — after almost 45 minutes of long, drawn out guitar riffs from the Grateful Dead, Canned Heat, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, we left before the screening ended. It was already 11:30 p.m. and Liz had to work early the next morning. Maybe I’m getting too old to make it through two extra hours of Woodstock. Still, when we drove by the shadow of the Lake Creature on our way home, we felt peaceful and full from the experience, a Summer night of music in the park with Woodstock fans, old and young.
I’m looking forward to Ang Lee’s new film Taking Woodstock scheduled to be released August 28th. The movie is based on the memoirs and memories of Elliot Tiber. In 1969, Tiber was an interior designer in Greenwich Village. That June he’d been at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Village, when patrons fought back against police brutality, touching off the modern Gay Rights movement.
Elliot Tiber felt empowered by Stonewall but still staked to the family business – a run-down Catskills motel called the El Monaco. He moved back to save the motel and became instrumental to Woodstock by offering a permit and connecting Michael Lang of Woodstock Ventures with Max Yasgur, gestures that would mark his place in Woodstock history.
I want to wrap up with my favorite piece of nostalgia about the concert. The iconic cover of Woodstock was shot by photographer Burk Uzzle, a Life magazine alumnus and a member of the elite Magnum photo agency (Uzzle also shot the funerals of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy). During a year of great violence, the 1969 photo exudes a sense of peace.
The couple in the famous photograph, Nick Ercoline and Bobbi Kelly, are still together (here’s what they look like now). They had dated for only 10 weeks when their photo was taken by Uzzle (unknown to them until the Woodstock album came out). Nick and Bobbi, now 60 years old, married two summers after Woodstock and are going strong.
To me, that’s what Woodstock was really about.
Woodstock At The Lake Harriet Band Shell, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
- Burk Uzzle Biography at Laurence Miller Gallery
- Video of photographer Burk Uzzle – Woodstock Photographer: “I Had a Very Violent Decade” - Burk Uzzle discusses iconic Woodstock photograph on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (original photo in background)
- A Woodstock Moment – 40 Years Later at the Smithsonian – the story of Nick & Bobbi Ercoline (with photos)
- Woodstock concert’s undercover lovers, Nick and Bobbi Ercoline, 40 years after summer of love at NY Daily News – Music (2009 photos of couple)
- History of Max Yasgur’s Farm
- Photographer Burk Uzzle — Woodstock: 40th Anniversary
- Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock at Film in Focus
- Woodstock 69 Festival & Concert Homepage
- Back to Woodstock on Dateline NBC - Story, photos, video of Lisa Law (of the Hog Farm who was there with her baby daughter and helped to feed Woodstock) and an interview with Elliot Tiber
-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, August 19th, 2009