Woodstock Preview: Richie Havens


Richie Havens

Well, here we are in New York’s Hudson Valley just about 30 miles from Bethel, where the Woodstock 40th anniversary festival will take place on Saturday.  The event, called “The Heroes of Woodstock” because it isn’t really sanctioned by the promoters who put on the original festival (and who own the copyright on the Woodstock name), is at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts which is this fancy $100 million entertainment complex built on the grounds of the original festival.

Friday afternoon, they kicked off the weekend’s festivities with a media-only performance by Richie Havens, the performer who kicked off the original Woodstock festival.  He sang “Freedom,” the song he made up on the spot back in 1969.  You can see video of it here – but two caveats: the streaming sucks and before you get to the music you have to listen to some real self-satisified speechifying by rich guy Alan Gerry, a cable TV magnate who bought up Max Yasgur’s original dairy farm and turned it into a really slick amphitheater and museum. 

Just listening to this guy, you know it ain’t gonna be your daddy’s Woodstock.   You know they’re gonna turn a profit this time.  We bought tickets to the event months ago but a few days we received an e-mail with a huge list of “updates” – including a warning that we need to arrive about three hours before concert time because there’s gonna be a traffic jam.  And the original festival grounds, with its photogenic monument overlooking the natural amphitheater where 400,000 people grooved four decades ago … will be closed on Saturday.  Nice.  I’m sure it will be open to the news media, though – no need to worry about the paying customers.

Here in upstate New York, the Woodstock anniversary is Big News everywhere – including CNN and other suspects – so make sure you tune in to your favorite news outlet to get an update Saturday.  And of course, we’ll be there!  Peace, man!

Richie Havens performance video by the Poughkeepsie Journal

UPDATE: Havens’ performance in a much better video, without the bullshit, courtesy of the Middletown (NY) Times Herald-Record

One Response to “Woodstock Preview: Richie Havens”

  1. Hi,
    When the original Woodstock took place, I was 14 years old. Later, I saw the movie and got the kick of it. Living in Kerala, a corner state of India, I look forward to the grand success of the 40th annual celebrations of the original heat. A heat that eventually turned in to glacier cold. Of course, world changes. Thanks to ICBMs.


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