Archive for Woodstock

Richie Havens, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , on April 22, 2013 by 30daysout

Richie Havens at Woodstock, 1969.

Richie Havens, the bearded troubadour of Woodstock, has died at the age of 72. Born in Brooklyn, the singer is perhaps best known for his fiery “Freedom,” which he improvised onstage at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.

Havens toured and recorded for decades until complications from kidney surgery left him unable to tour after 45 years in 2012. In addition to putting out 21 studio albums and touring the world numerous times, Havens also devoted much of his time to charity. In 1991 he won the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.

Here’s Richie performing “Freedom” at the Woodstock 40th anniversary at Bethel, N.Y. in 2009.


Video Du Jour: Richie Havens

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on January 21, 2013 by 30daysout

It’s an important today in America: not only is it Martin Luther King Jr. Day, celebrating the life and achievements of the civil rights leader, it’s also the ceremonial inauguration of President Barack Obama.

People in this country disagree about a lot of things, including President Obama. That comes with the territory, which is freedom. Freedom to speak your mind, freedom to make the choices you want to make, freedom to disagree with just about anyone if you wish. We cherish our freedom, and we are proud of it.

Sometimes we take it too far, and use our freedom to intrude upon other people’s freedom. Today’s inauguration will just underscore what we already know: we have to keep working at it, maybe one day we’ll get this freedom thing right.

Today is also Richie Havens’ birthday, so let’s share an appropriate song that Richie played a long time ago. It’s a little short on meaningful lyrics but long on feeling.


Video Du Jour: Richie Havens

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on August 15, 2012 by 30daysout

Celebrating the anniversary of the big Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which started 43 years ago today. One of the first acts to perform was Richie Havens, singing and strumming acoustically even while workers continued to set up the stage and sound system.

Sorry for the credits rolling toward the end – this bit is from a 1990 documentary, Woodstock: The Lost Performances, which featured performers and/or songs that didn’t make it into the Academy Award-winning movie. The Lost Performances was issued only on VHS and has long been out of print but you can maybe scratch up a used copy on Amazon.

(More Than) 40 Years Out: Celebrating Woodstock

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2012 by 30daysout

Marker overlooking the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair grounds near Bethel, NY.

There isn’t much more to say about Woodstock that we didn’t say here, here or here … but the 43rd anniversary of the historic music festival is coming up this week (Aug. 15-17) and we thought it would be a good opportunity to look back for a few minutes.

Why should we celebrate Woodstock? Someone asked that once, then he answered his own question: it was just a weekend when a whole lot of dirty hippies gathered in one place to smoke dope, get naked with each other and bitch about all of the things they took for granted. And I said yeah, exactly! The one thing he didn’t add was that those 500,000 so-called dirty hippies gathered there because nobody stopped them from doing it.

Even in 1969, while there were riots in the streets and war protests across the country, we were still the Land of the Free. All of those people initially drawn to Woodstock went for the music, but once they got there it was something else: a festival that got out of control, a cluster fuck with a soundtrack. It was, ultimately, a peaceful happening in a time of war and personal conflict.

John Sebastian playing for the masses at Woodstock.

Woodstock was a good thing that happened in a troubled time. When assassins took the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy and Malcolm X, those were bad things. When a police riot disrupted protests in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, that was also a bad thing. When American National Guardsmen shot and killed unarmed students at Kent State, that was certainly a bad thing.

Most of all, Woodstock was a celebration of freedom. People went to Woodstock to celebrate the rights that we are guaranteed as Americans, and the privileges we think we deserve as a rich, prosperous nation. Including freedom of speech – the same right used back then to protest the Vietnam War, and the same right guaranteed today to guys who own fast-food chicken restaurants as well as to people who disagree with what he says.

So maybe Woodstock should join our calendar of national celebrations, another occasion to appreciate the many great things we have here in America. Maybe you shouldn’t take the day off work, but on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of this coming week just take a moment to remember a time of peace and music – and freedom.

And you can play these as your soundtrack … they’re not all from the original Woodstock, but each one has the proper spirit.

MP3: “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell

MP3: “Freedom” (2009 version) by Richie Havens

MP3: “Kiss My Ass” by Country Joe & the Fish

MP3: “Green River” (live at Woodstock) by Creedence Clearwater Revival

MP3: “The Brown Acid Is Not Specifically Too Good” stage announcement at Woodstock, 1969

MP3: “Goin’ Up The Country” (live at Bethel Woods 2009) by Canned Heat

MP3: “Dance To The Music” (live at Woodstock) by Sly and the Family Stone

MP3: “Wooden Ships” by Crosby, Stills & Nash

MP3: “Piece Of My Heart” by Big Brother & the Holding Company

MP3: “China Cat Sunflower” (live) by The Grateful Dead

MP3: “Johnny B. Goode” (live at Woodstock) by Johnny Winter

MP3: “Volunteers/With A Little Help From My Friends” (live at Bethel Woods 2009) by Jefferson Starship

MP3: “For Those of You Who Have Partaken of the Green Acid” stage announcement at Woodstock, 1969

MP3: “Star Spangled Banner/Purple Haze” (live at Woodstock) by Jimi Hendrix


MP3: NBC News report on Woodstock, 1969

42 Years Out: Woodstock Music & Art Fair

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , on August 13, 2011 by 30daysout

Yeah, it was 42 years ago this weekend, more or less.

I came upon a child of God, he was walking along the road. And I asked him, “Where are you going?” And this he told me:

“Sir, you can park up in the parking lot.” He was one of the volunteers who hang around the green, grassy fields where they held the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, about 42 years ago. We drove up there from New York City on a hot July Monday, and we walked through the nice museum and the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts amphitheater. We also strolled through the lush grass where a little more than four decades ago about half a million kids grooved to the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and many more.

Not too many people were there on the day we went, and of course it was nowhere near as exciting as the visit we made in 2009. But it’s a nice pilgrimage for people who profess to love the music – it’s a reminder that no matter how many Sugarlands or Jason Aldeans or Lady Gagas parade before us, there will always be somebody plucking a guitar and writing a song. For every one of those clowns there will be a Jakob Dylan, a Justin Townes Earle, a Mumford and Sons and maybe even an older artist finally getting deserved exposure, like Alejandro Escovedo. Like the green grass outside Bethel, New York, you just gotta go looking for it.

Let’s play some tracks they gave us from the 40th anniversary of Woodstock at Bethel Woods, NY, in 2009:

MP3:  “Going Up The Country” by Canned Heat

MP3: “Fish Cheer/Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag” by Country Joe McDonald

MP3: “50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain” by Ten Years After

MP3: “Woodstock Boogie” by Canned Heat

MP3: “Summertime” by Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Sophia Ramos)

MP3: “St. Stephen/Turn On Your Lovelight” by the Jefferson Starship (with Cathy Richardson, Linda Imperial and Tom Constanten)

MP3: “Volunteers/With A Little Help From My Friends” by the Jefferson Starship and others

YouTube: Excerpts from “Oh! Woodstock!” a 1970 documentary on NBC-TV

The Woodstock festival grounds today.

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Ten Years After

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by 30daysout

It’s always cool to hear artists perform songs that you’ve always known from listening to records.  I remember once seeing the Who in the Houston Astrodome, and when Pete Townshend hit those familiar chords to begin “Pinball Wizard,” I literally got goosebumps because this was a song I’d heard thousands of times on the radio and on record.   It’s even better when an artist or band plays a song you had completely forgotten about.

This was the case last year at the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, held at the Bethel Woods Center in New York.  Ten Years After took the stage, and although Alvin Lee is no longer their frontman/guitarist, the band is still pretty good.  They were doing some of their familiar blues-rock things (and saving Woodstock highlight “I’m Going Home” for last) when one of the band asked, “Anybody like psychedelic songs?”  It was an introduction to the song “50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain,” from the 1970 album Cricklewood Green – which is the record we’re spinning today.

Woodstock happened in 1969, and the band’s performance of “I’m Going Home” at the festival and in the subsequent movie made them huge stars.  Ten Years After, led by fiery guitarist Alvin Lee, formed in 1966 – ten years after the first appearance of Elvis Presley, who Lee idolized.  TYA was a blues-rock band, in the style of the early Rolling Stones, and before the Woodstock watershed they made a minor name for themselves by touring Europe and the United States.  Their 1969 album Stonedhenge found them turning a little more experimental, but not really “psychedelic” (despite what the title implies) – the album featured some jazz and classical touches.

But when Cricklewood Green came out in 1970, TYA could now be considered a truly psychedelic outfit.  The eight songs that appear on the original LP were all written by Alvin Lee, but bandmates Chick Churchill (keyboards), Ric Lee (drums) and Leo Lyons (bass) apparently had a lot of input in the final sound of the entire record.  The result is a more comfortable and assured set than its predecessor, mixing the trademark blues workouts (“Me and My Baby”) with some songs featuring diverse styles (the rock shuffle “Working On the Road,”, the almost country-ish  “Year 3,000 Blues” and the ballad “Circles”).  Most likely, it’s the best album of the Alvin Lee years.

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Happy New Year!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 31, 2009 by 30daysout

This is probably is the place where we should be counting off the best albums or songs of 2009, or of the decade, but we’re not gonna do that today.  And it would also be appropriate to make a New Year’s resolution or two.  OK: 1. We’re going to keep on rockin’ in the New Year.  2. We resolve to help you rock in the New Year.

But we want to take this opportunity to restate our mission: to share with you some cool music and interesting stories throughout the year.  We love the music, and we hope that 30 Days Out in some small way reflects our deep love for rock, blues, country, soul, folk and whatever.

If you are an artist and you don’t appreciate us posting your song, please let us know and we’ll remove it promptly.  But please don’t do like this one guy, who posted a link to our blog with the headline “Why Are They Stealing My Song?”  Dude, we’re not stealing anyone’s song – we always identify the artist and, when it’s brand-new music, include a link to his or her website.  Who else is doing that for you?  We like it enough to share it with our readers.

And we’re happy to do it for free.  Take a look around – there’s no advertising here, so it is pretty obvious we’re not doing this for any kind of profit.  In fact, I’m a professional writer in my day job … should I charge myself for writing blog posts?  I do this because I love the music, and so does my partner on this blog.

Finally, we’re approaching 500,000 readers since we started this blog in the spring of 2008, so the only thing left to say is … thanks.  Thanks to all of you, we appreciate your support and hope you keep reading and visiting us in the New Year.  Happy New Year and Keep On Rockin’.

Here are a few tunes to help you ring in the New Year.

MP3: “Corrido de Auld Lang Syne” by Little Bobby Rey & Band

MP3: “Rock and Roll Party” by Iggy Pop

MP3: “Happy New Year” by Lightnin’ Hopkins

MP3: “Sing The Changes” (live) by Paul McCartney

MP3: “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” by Ella Fitzgerald & the Frank DeVol Orchestra

MP3: “The Great Hank” (live) by Robert Earl Keen

MP3: “Party At Ground Zero” by Fishbone

MP3: “Don’t Taser Me, Bro” by Carbon/Silicon

MP3: “Happy New Year, Baby” by Johnny Otis & His Orchestra

MP3: “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Jefferson Starship & Friends (live at Woodstock 40th anniversary, Bethel Woods NY, 8/15/09) (R.I.P. James Gurley, of Big Brother and the Holding Company)

Review: Woodstock 40 Years On – Back To Yasgur’s Farm

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on August 22, 2009 by 30daysout

Cover edit

We are going to move on from Woodstock, and this is the last stop.  I slapped this on the other day and it pretty much stopped me in my tracks.  More than a few times during the Woodstock 40th anniversary weekend I read where the music itself at the 1969 festival wasn’t that great.  Woodstock 40 Years On – Back To Yasgur’s Farm, a new six-CD set revisiting the music from the great festival, makes a strong case that the music in that moment of time was terrific.  Yeah, I know – this is a bit of overkill in this summer of Woodstock Exploitation and if you have any of the other retrospectives from Woodstock, maybe it is a bit redundant.

But look – and listen- a little closer, and you’ll find cleaner sound and some welcome stuff from the vaults that help disprove the myth of sloppy sets.  The Grateful Dead for years complained that their set was horrible, for example: the version here of “Dark Star” is sublime, and even after 19 minutes it still fades out before its ending.  Joan Baez turns in nice versions of a couple of Gram Parsons tunes, “Hickory Wind” and “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man”; Creedence Clearwater Revival kicks it with three of their best-known tunes and the mostly acoustic Disc 1 puts a spotlight on the tragically forgotten Bert Sommer, as well as the bottom-billed Sweetwater.

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Woodstock: 40 Years Out – And Still Tie-Dyed

Posted in News, Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by 30daysout

Woodstock monument

It was the first, and most important, question of the day: just what does one wear to Woodstock?  We were headed to the “Heroes of Woodstock” show Saturday at Bethel Woods Center, on the grounds of the original 1969 Woodstock festival, and we Tie Dyewanted to fit in.  Thinking that a Hawaiian shirt might be a little ostentatious, by the time we got to Woodstock we knew we were wrong.  Because everywhere you looked, there was tie-dye.  Tie-dyed shirts, tie-dyed pants, possibly even a couple of tie-dyed people.   In fact the only thing more plentiful than tie-dye on Saturday was gray hair and body fat.

Saturday’s celebration was a kind of Hippie Halloween, and everyone dressed the part.  If it wasn’t tie-dye, it was a t-shirt from the Woodstock museum or from one of the roadside vendors dotting the highway in Bethel, N.Y.  So where the original Woodstock was a triumph of optimism and idealism, its 40th anniversary was a triumph too – of the capitalism and exploitation that didn’t quite work the first time.  But we hit that note yesterday … on Saturday, Woodstock was big enough for everyone: kids, people from all over the world, countless buzzing news media types and those old hippies who have long since gone to seed.  A good time was bought by all.

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Woodstock Preview: Richie Havens

Posted in News with tags , , on August 14, 2009 by 30daysout

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. 

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