Tag Archives: Woodstock

Woodstock: Westport Remembers

If you grew up when I did, you’ve got a Woodstock memory.

I had a ticket and everything (except actual plans about how to get there).

Me, in my Woodstock days. Or should I say, Woogstock.

Then I got grounded. (Well deserved, I must admit.) Instead of getting rained on, sleeping in the mud and being awakened by Jimi Hendrix, I sat at home. I read about the huge festival in the New York Times. A few months later, I saw the movie.

Several years later — now out of college — I was cleaning my old room at my parents’ house. I found my Woodstock ticket: still pristine, never used.

“Oh,” I said to myself. “That’s interesting.”

And promptly threw it out.

That’s not the most compelling — or financially savvy — Woodstock story. But it’s mine.

Other people have much better ones.

Like Michael Friedman (Staples High School 1961 grad/music producer/ photographer). Roger Kaufman (Staples ’66 musician/musicologist). Dodie Pettit (Westport actress/singer/Woodstock attendee). Paul Nelson (Johnny Winter’s guitar player). Ira and Maxine Stone (Woodstock performers). Bruce Pollock (author).

They’ll all be at the Westport Woman’s Club this Wednesday (May 15, 7 p.m.). They’re part of a “Woodstock: 50 Years Down the Road” panel, talking about their experiences at that almost-50-years-ago/seems-like-yesterday historical event.

“Lotta freaks!” Arlo Guthrie said. “The New York State Thruway is closed!”

After the discussion, the Old School Revue’s Woodstock All-Stars will play  favorite hits from Woodstock. Performers include Kaufman, Pettit, the Stones (Ira and Maxine, not Mick and Keith), Pete Hohmeister, Frank Barrese, Bob Cooper, Billy Foster and Nina Hammerling Smith.

Special guests include Rex Fowler of Aztec Two-Step, Robin Batteau and the Saugatuck Horns (Joe Meo and Fred Scerbo).

The event is free (but register online; seating is limited).

In other words, you don’t need a ticket.

That’s good. If I had one, I’d probably throw it away.

(For more information, click here. “Woodstock: 50 Years Down the Road” is sponsored by the Westport Library.)

By The Time We Get To Westonstock

“By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong …” Joni Mitchell sang.

Not quite. But a ton of people were at Yasgur’s farm, 49 years ago this month.

There won’t be quite as many at Weston’s Coley Homestead (104 Weston Road) on Saturday, September 15 (2 to 8 p.m.). They won’t get naked, sleep in the mud, and hear Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Country Joe rock America.

Hey, this is 2018, not 1969. But it will still be very, very cool.

The festival is the finale of the Weston Historical Society’s summer-long retrospective of ’60s music. Exhibits, concerts and forums have explored the impact of rock, psychedelia, folk, Motown, soul and more on our country — and our little slice of Fairfield County.

Like Woodstock though, Westonstock is about more than just music. There’s a ’60s car show, and kids’ activities too. (Those kids are of course the grandchildren of people who were stardust, golden children of God, back in the day.)

But music is key. Westonstock features Old School Revue — the popular local band fronted by 1966 Staples High School graduate Roger Kaufman. The Saugatuck Horns — a 6-piece R&B band — will be decked out in vintage ’60s attire.

Other performers include local favorites (and talented neighbors) Chance Browne, Rob Carlson, Crispin Cioe, Chris Coogan, Tim DeHuff, Charlie Karp, Jeff Southworth and David Weber.

All have long and storied musical pedigrees. They’ve played with the Rolling Stones, Buddy Miles, Jimi Hendrix (though not at Woodstock) and many more.

Roger Kaufman (center, with hat) and his Old School Revue.

The cars, meanwhile, will take you back to the days of listening to great music while cruising (or “watching the submarine races”). Many are on loan from Dragone Classic Motors.

There are also ’60s music trivia contests, and ’60s dance demonstrations.

Jr’s Hot Doggin’ Food Truck and Olive & Julep Craft Cocktails head the list of food and beverage suppliers.

Whether you recall the ’60s, can’t remember them (“if you do, you weren’t there,” Grace Slick or Timothy Leary or Robin Williams supposedly said), or were not yet born, Westonstock is for you.

All you need is a blanket, a lawn chair and some patchouli.

(Click here for tickets and more information. They’re also available the day of the event. Proceeds help renovation projects at Coley Barn and Coley Farmhouse.) 

JP Vellotti’s Woodstock

Alert — and multi-talented — “06880” reader JP Vellotti notes that this weekend is the 45th anniversary of Woodstock.

The Westporter wasn’t there in 1969 — but 20 years ago this weekend, he was. Sort of.

JP was a stage photographer at Woodstock 1994, a festival produced by Michael Lang 25 years after the original. JP thinks it was billed as “Two More Days of Peace and Music,” but suggests a more realistic title: “A week of mud, poor sanitation and no sleep.”

Pepsi had a special promotion, with special labels on 2-liter bottles. "Who the hell would keep a plastic bottle at a 3-day concert?" JP Vellotti asks. "They were all discarded and mushed up." Some can be seen here. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Pepsi had a special promotion, with special labels on 2-liter bottles. “Who the hell would keep a plastic bottle at a 3-day concert?” JP Vellotti asks. “They were all discarded and mushed up.” Some are seen here. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

But he was 21 years old, and it was a golden opportunity. He’d worked for a while at CamerArts downtown. He’d freelanced for Brooks Newspaper, and became the 1st staff photographer at the Minuteman.

Along the way he met Joe Sia, a rock photographer who lived in Fairfield. Joe took JP under his wing. “Although he never helped improve my technical ability,” JP says, “he certainly showed me the ropes of how to get into a concert, with or without credentials.” Woodstock 1994 was no different.

Joe was a stage photographer for the original Woodstock. His photo of Joe Cocker made the cover of Rolling Stone.

Henry Rollins played an "angry" set, JP Vellotti says, "and got the crowd going. It rained, and he encouraged the crowd to throw mud at us." (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Henry Rollins played an “angry” set, JP Vellotti says, “and got the crowd going. It rained, and he encouraged the crowd to throw mud at us.” (Photo/JP Vellotti)

At the last minute — desperate for an all-access pass — Joe and JP decided to try a magazine outside the traditional music press. JP suggested Glamour.

Joe convinced them it would be an interesting story, showing who was “fashionable” that weekend. They took the pitch. All Glamour wanted was 20 prints a week later.

These 2 were waiting for Metallica to perform. The crowd had written things in mud on the barricade. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

These 2 were waiting for Metallica to perform. The crowd had written things in mud on the barricade. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Joe and JP finished the assignment in an hour — and had the whole weekend to do what they wanted.

The crowd shot is one of his favorites. “You generally face the stage,” JP explains. “But suddenly, I turned around. Never having seen 300,000 people before, I can tell you, in a term genuine to 1969: ‘It blew my mind, man.'”

Woodstock 94 crowd - JP Vellotti

“We thought Glamour would hate the photos because everyone was muddy,” JP adds.

“But they loved them. I think ran about 10.”

The Red Hot Chili Peppers came onstage dressed like light bulbs, and rocked the hell out of the crowd. Later, they dressed like Hendrix. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers came onstage dressed like light bulbs, and rocked the hell out of the crowd. Later, they dressed like Hendrix. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

JP Vellotti, in front of a guitar signed by all the Woodstock 94 performers. (Photo/Joe Sia)

JP Vellotti, in front of a guitar signed by Woodstock 94 performers. (Photo/Joe Sia)

 

Westport Does Woodstock

Okay, it wasn’t exactly Woodstock.

There was wine, not weed.

Lawn chairs replaced sleeping bags.

But the Levitt Pavilion opened its 39th season tonight with a ’60s band, and the landfill next to the library was as packed as Yasgur’s farm 43 years ago.

The group — whose members have backed Paul McCartney, The Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, the Bee Gees, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, Ronnie Spector and more — played a wide range of the greatest music in the world: “Soul Kitchen,” “Got to Get You Into My life,” “Sunny Afternoon” and “Mr. Spaceman,” to name 4.

In between songs there were ads for Mr. Clean, the “Addams Family” theme music, and a promo for the WMCA Good Guys.

The audience ranged from 8 to 80, as they say. Many were in their 60s — befitting a ’60s tribute band.

They all had fun fun fun till their daddy took their T-Bird away.

A small part of the big crowd tonight at the Levitt.

All the instruments and amps (and musicians) came from the ’60s.

Get on up and dance to the music!

Not Going Down To Yasgur’s Farm

Woodstock“By the time we got to Woodstock,” Joni Mitchell sang, “we were half a million strong…”

I was supposed to be 1 of those half million.

I had my ticket.  A buddy and I were all set to go to Woodstock, or whatever they called the town where the festival was held many miles from there.  We were 16, and all set for god knows what kind of adventure.

Two weeks before liftoff, I biffed my parents’ station wagon into a tree.  For the rest of the summer, I had as much freedom as the dangerous dog down at Old Mill.  I spent Woodstock Weekend reading about how much fun everyone had.  Then I heard stories from all my friends who were there.  A few months later, I watched the movie.

Several years passed.  Cleaning stuff out of my parents’ house, I found my unused ticket.  “That’s interesting,” I thought.  And then, deeming it as worthless as it had been for the people who paid $18 for the “free concert, man,” I tossed it in the trash.

How was I to know that something called eBay would soon emerge, creating a vehicle for me to sell that collector’s item for a sum that would have allowed me to retire in comfort, until of course I would have lost it all in the current economic meltdown.

So I never went to Woodstock.  I have no nostalgia-exaggerated memories of discovering world peace through rain, mud and Jimi Hendrix’s music.

All that remains of my Woodstock era is a photo (below), of me as a 16-year-old boy.

I think it’s way cooler than any unused ticket could ever be.

Dan Woog back in the day, but not at Woodstock

Dan Woog back in the day, but not at Woodstock