We Are Golden, Part 2: The Celebration of Woodstock at 50

The celebration they wanted – a weekend of music on the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair – continued following Arlo Guthrie’s opening performance to commemorate 50 years since the festival occurred.

Many alumni from the 1969 festival returned to Bethel Woods over the course of the four days to breathe life into their memories, joined by younger generations looking to enjoy music and learn about a piece of 1960’s history.

While not a major music festival production, Bethel Woods hosted performances during the afternoons leading up to the main stage acts. The two side stages on the upper lawn brought in both local, regional and national talent, including: In The Kitchen, Mike Miz, Lara Hope & The Arktones, Emily Mure, American Nomads (Friday), Murali Coryell, Catbird, Chogyi Lama, Ira & Max Stone, John John Brown (Saturday), and Jack West, The Whispering Tree, Jesse Kinch, Ian Flannigan (Sunday).

Lara Hope & The Arktones

Each of the three nights brought back performers from the 1969 festival. The Beatles never played Woodstock as they were busy working on their album, Abbey Road. However, Ringo Starr and his All Star Band brought Santana’s keyboardist back to the stage to jam on a couple of Santana’s early works and paid tribute to other performances from 1969, with a medley of tunes later in the set. Saturday brought Carlos Santana back to the stage, with a little help from The Doobie Brothers. Closing out the weekend was a powerful set by Creedance Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty who, at age 74, rocked with the stage presence and humor of someone 30 years younger. Other 1969 performers to hit the stage included Blood, Sweat & Tears (new lineup) and Edgar Winter, who sat in with his brother Johnny for part of his Woodstock set.

John Fogerty (photo by Kevin Ferguson/Bethel Woods)

Scenes from the 1970 Woodstock documentary immortalized the weather that mired parts of the festival. Somewhat true to that form, some threats of weather and a short but heavy rain hindered the festivities a little bit. Spirits were kept up; some recreating the “no rain!” chants and others taking the opportunity to chat and share stories while activities were on hold.

The weekend was a perfect pace to celebrate the history, and anniversary, of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Although the 50th anniversary weekend is behind us, the conversation will keep going. The Museum at Bethel Woods has done an excellent job at preserving and documenting the history of Woodstock with their permanent exhibit and their special exhibit, “We Are Golden: Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival and Aspirations for a Peaceful Future” which remains open through October.

Stay tuned to NYS Music as we bring you parts three and four of our coverage, featuring stories from people who were there, including Nick & Bobbie Ercoline, Duke Devlin, and photographer/Hog Farm member, Lisa Law.

Photos by Steve Malinski.

Main stage photos below by Kevin Ferugson/Bethel Woods: