This coming summer will mark the 50th anniversary of arguably the most well-known music festival in American pop culture history, Woodstock. The original three-day event took place in Bethel, New York back on August 15th-18th, 1969, when hundreds of thousands of music fans and adventurous souls of the counterculture generation made history by raising the bar for live entertainment and societal harmony.
Rock nostalgia has become quite bankable amongst younger music fans in recent years, so it only makes sense that the original promoters of the famous festival have been making plans for a 50th-anniversary celebration. According to one of Woodstock’s co-founders, Michael Lang, those plans are a lot closer to becoming reality than most fans and ageing hippies might have imagined.
According to a new interview with regional media outlet Poughkeepsie Journal, Lang and his associates have “definite plans” to host an event of sorts for the anniversary, although he didn’t go into any detail as to who could be involved and when/where exactly it would take place. Considering the huge popularity of music festivals and lifestyle events amongst today’s youth, Lang is surely hoping to cash in on what is definitely a great opportunity to reach a new generation of fans who are quick to open their wallets for a ticket—especially if older, legacy acts are on the bill.
While Lang sounded quite optimistic and confident in the interview, he also went on to admit that an anniversary event “is not a done deal yet,” but assured the outlet that plans are “very close” to being finalized. Any event that does come into fruition however, will be focused around themes of sustainability, activism and social justice, according to Lang, something from which our modern society could surely benefit.
Artists and Fans at Woodstock – August 1969
The news comes almost a year after it was initially reported that the state had granted the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (including the original Woodstock grounds) with a grant of $689,063 courtesy of New York’s Regional Economic Development Council. The money was earmarked to be used for on-site improvements and to keep the historical site up to working maintenance for smaller concerts and music-loving tourists in addition to possible large-scale concert events. The grant could also be the state’s way of ensuring that organizers like Lang don’t stage another disaster like Woodstock ’99. The recent report also pointed out that Lang is not officially affiliated with Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, so any potential event from Lang and his camp may be separate from whatever celebrations the venue itself has planned.
It’s also worth noting that the official Woodstock social media accounts updated their imaging to the 50th anniversary theme earlier this week. A Facebook event hosted by the Hudson Valley for what appears to be the official event home for a 50th anniversary concert was also launched this week. The event’s “About” section clearly states, “The 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music and art festival is happening in 2019! Celebrate the landmark anniversary of the cultural touchstone. Woodstock’s 50th anniversary is set to feature live performances from renowned artists spanning multiple genres and decades.”
Several of the original artists who played Woodstock in 1969 are not only still alive, but also still active and could conceivably make an appearance at the 50th anniversary. That list includes Joan Baez, Santana, surviving members of The Who and Grateful Dead (who play their old catalogs of hits and tour annually), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Ten Years After and Country Joe McDonald, just to name a few.