Are two Woodstock events going to fight for big acts?

An original ticket at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, New York, where one 50th-anniversary event will take place.
An original ticket at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, New York, where one 50th-anniversary event will take place.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES • Will there be enough big-name musicians to lure the crowds?

This issue has arisen after news came that the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival, one of the watersheds of the 1960s counter-culture movement, would be celebrated in August with two competing events.

Mr Michael Lang, co-producer of the 1969 Woodstock bash, announced last week that the official Woodstock Music and Arts Fair would take place from Aug 16 to 18 at a motor-racing venue in upstate New York.

Last month, the Bethel Woods Centre for the Arts, the current owner of the field where the 1969 celebration took place, revealed that it would mark the 50th anniversary with a "pan-generational event" on the same dates.

"The original festival in 1969 was a reaction by the youth of the time to the causes we felt compelled to fight for - civil rights, women's rights and the anti-war movement, and it gave way to our mission to share peace, love and music," Mr Lang said in a statement.

"Today, we're experiencing similar disconnects in our country and one thing we've learnt is that music has the power to bring people together. So, it's time to bring the Woodstock spirit back, get involved and make our voices heard."

The 1969 edition, billed as "three days of peace and music", is regarded as one of the pivotal moments in music history. Over three sometimes-rainy days, more than 30 acts - including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, The Band and Grateful Dead - performed around the clock to a 400,000-strong audience, most of whom watched for free and camped on site in the mud.

The festival was documented in the 1970 film Woodstock, which won an Oscar.

Mr Lang did not announce this year's performer line-up, but said more than 60 musicians would take part on three main stages at Watkins Glen International, the site of car-racing events.

"It will be primarily contemporary talent, but the legacy acts will be represented and honoured," said Mr Lang, referring to the surviving musicians, now in their 70s, who continue to perform.

Although it was known as Woodstock, the 1969 festival actually took place in Bethel, some 110km south of the village of Woodstock and 144km north of New York City.

Watkins Glen, which has a larger crowd capacity, is about 320km north of New York City.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2019, with the headline 'Are two Woodstock events going to fight for big acts?'. Print Edition | Subscribe