Category Archives: Festivals

Vancouver Pop Festival

Vancouver Pop Festival

Paradise Valley Resort
August 22, 23, and 24 1969

Vancouver Pop Festival

Each year as I post a short piece about the many rock festivals that took place in 1969, I seem to find a few more. On my latest list, the Vancouver Pop Festival is number 27.

Paradise Valley Resort (now the Cheakamus Centre) is about 40 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Promoter Bert Gartner had planned on selling 30,000 tickets for each of the three days. He sold 15,000. The MC was well-known radio DJ Terry Mulligan. Bikers showed up and "did" security. 

There is some dispute as to whether the Grateful Dead played the event. Some sites state they did; others dispute it. Unusual is that there is no recording of their performance, something that almost always occurred.

The Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger site comes down on the "did not play" side with the following information:
Here are the listings from the great San Francisco Express Times, vol. 2 no. 32 (August 21, 1969), p. unk. There’s lots of interest here, of course. But I have circled the item that interests me most greatly. It’s under the listings for Sunday, August 24, 1969, and reads as follows:
Hippy Hill: Trans-Cultural Rip-Offs, Inc. presents Steve Gaskin & the Grateful Dead in concert with Shiva Fellowship. Bring dope (the sacrament) and good vibes. noon. free.
“Hippy Hill”, a.k.a. Hippie Hill, is apparently at the far eastern edge of Golden Gate Park, close to the entry from the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. It seems like a perfectly good place to go share a sacrament and a free show by the Dead.
I show the listing referred to below. It is too small to read, but if you click on it you will likely be able to see a larger view:

Vancouver Pop Festival

In 2011, MC Terry Mulligan wrote his biography, My Life...So Far. In it he included his memories about the event. He felt it had held much promise, but failed to deliver.  He also said that the Grateful Dead did not play. Among the several paragraphs about the event, Mulligan includes...
I had my own experience with an unruly music event when…I introduced the acts at the Vancouver Pop Festival–three days of rain, cold and miserable hippies….
Nobody was ready for the pissing rain and cold. People were in sleeping bags on the wet ground in a mountain valley that was mostly shielded from the sun.
I was the guy who promoted the event on the air, so many people thought it was my event. Every half-hour there was somebody loud and angry in my face, spittle flying. “My old lady just got robbed.” “These are bogus tickets.” “You took my money, man!”
Vancouver Pop Festival
Yet like any event, perspectives change with who one was and where one sat. Vancouver Sun reporter Eileen Johnson wrote:
…the music was excellent, the sound system worked fine, the weather couldn’t have been been better, the light show was a delight, and there were so few people…no one could have suffered from overcrowding
And yet another statement from the same article by attendee David Chesney,
It was like every outlaw motorcycle gang in the Pacific Northwest came to this thing….The bizarre part was when Little Richard came on. All these bikers right up front. …Little Richard was mincing it up big time, and questioning their sexuality while flaunting his.

Vancouver Pop Festival, Vancouver Pop Festival, Vancouver Pop Festival, Vancouver Pop Festival,

Bullfrog 3 Festival

Bullfrog 3 Festival

August 22, 23, and 24
Pelletier Farm, St Helens, Oregon

Bullfrog 3 Festival

The Bullfrog 2 Festival

It is not a typo that the heading for this blog piece is "The Bullfrog 3 Festival" and the poster pictured above refers to "The Bullfrog 2 Festival." #3 was actually the impromptu festival that quickly happened when, facing local opposition, the Bullfrog 2 Festival fell apart a few days before August 21.

It is important to keep in mind the often angry and hatefully divisive opposition there was toward young people who wanted to get together and listen to what had come to be called "underground music." The residents of Wallkill, NY had successfully evicted Woodstock Ventures from their original site, forcing the festival to quickly find another venue. Luckily for 400,000 + people, Max Yasgur said "Yes."

While festivals of this time did sometimes have some people who threw off their clothes, some who used illegal drugs, some who sold illegal drugs, and some whose view of the Establishment was simply anti-Establishment, most young people were simply working part-time for the summer, working full-time since high school, home on military leave, or about to be drafted.

No chaperones!

Scott Laird wrote of the days before: According to original articles published in The Sentinel-Mist Chronicle newspaper in the week prior, Bullfrog II was booked by Walsh and Moquin Productions at the Columbia County Fairgrounds in St. Helens and was scheduled to include national acts Taj Mahal and the Grateful Dead along with local performers “Portland Zoo,” “Sabatic Goat,” “The Weeds,” “New Colony,” and several others.  The plan called for twenty-four hour a day entertainment for two days.   Advertising for the concert also called for “petite mall lites, space balloons, rides and fireworks.” Tickets were $6 in advance, $7 at the gate.

The day before the scheduled start of the event, Circuit Judge Glen Heiber ruled that the facilities at the fairgrounds were not adequate for overnight camping and sanitation and adequate traffic control was not available. He had agreed with Columbia County District Attorney Lou L. Williams who contested the original contract and stated a fear of  “…narcotics, intercourse in the open, and parking on private property, as well as a severe traffic congestion problem.”  

Williams had also contended that “…sanitation, parking, and the lack of sufficient law enforcement personnel to cope with a large influx of people, estimated to be about 6,000.” 

And no chaperoning arrangements!
Bullfrog 2 Festival
On August 20, the day of the cancellation and the day before the festival's scheduled start, young fans gradually gathered in front of the St Helens's Courthouse. Local people gawked at the peaceful gathering.

On August 21, the day the Bullfrog 2 Festival was slated to begin, the peaceful gathering continued and that afternoon, the Portland Zoo, a local band on the festival schedule, performed. All remained peaceful. Gawking continued. Business owners enjoyed the extra commerce the crowds brought. Fans cleaned up.

Mrs. Melvina Pelletier

Again from Scott Laird: Around 9:00 PM on Thursday evening Mrs. Melvina Pelletier of St. Helens offered her property in the Happy Hollow area of Yankton for the festival. Details of the newly created Bullfrog III were  worked out on Friday. Original promoters Walsh and Moquin had already pulled out of the event, and Bob Wehe of Faucet International Promotions took over as promoter, agreeing to provide sanitation and security.
Bullfrog 3 Festival
August 22 – 24, 1969
The truncated festival finally got underway on Friday night and continued until Sunday morning.  Cars crowded the roads, but many reported that local residents were among the jam trying to see these drugged kids with long hair, shoe-less, bra-less, or even (heaven forbid!) topless.

Fortunately for the festival, the Dead headlined and fortunately for us, the set is available on a soundboard recording (SBD) or a matrix if you prefer a little more audience in the mix. And this wasn't their first concert since their August 16th Woodstock performance. They'd already played in Seattle on August 20 and would play in on August 24...but where? Was it the Vancouver Pop Festival or in San Francisco?

There isn't much more available about the actual music at Mrs Pelletier's place, but we should thank her. A west coast Max Yasgur.

Bullfrog 3 Festival, Bullfrog 3 Festival, Bullfrog 3 Festival, Bullfrog 3 Festival, Bullfrog 3 Festival, 

Miami Rock Festival

Miami Rock Festival

December 27, 28, & 29
International Speedway, Hollywood, Florida
Last rock festival of 1969
“Last rock festival of the 60’s”

Miami Rock Festival

1969: a Year of Festivals

And so we come to the end of 1969 and the many festivals of that year besides the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. 

Back on May 23 we had the first one of 1969: the Aquarian Family Festival in San Jose, California.  By the end of June and the Denver Pop Festival there had already been eight American festivals and on June 28 there would be the Bath Festival of Blues in England. 

By the end of July, we'd have the Midwest Pop Festival in Milwaukee and it marked the 17th American festival.

By the end of August the Isle of Wight Festival of Music marked the twenty-fourth festival of 1969.

There were many other festivals as well during 1969 that I have not covered. They all fall under the category as "minor" but of course to those who organized them or to those who attended them, a festival is a festival.

I have not excluded any large American festival as far as I know. I know I have not included some of those so-called minor festivals, particularly in Michigan which seemed to have many local ones that summer.

Miami Rock Festival

The Miami Rock Festival was the twenty-ninth American festival that year. I have mentioned the two UK festivals. And at the same time that the Miami Rock Festival was going on, the Mid Winter Pop Festival was not.

I include the Mid Winter because it seems (not much information about it other than its poster) like it would have been an amazing event--had it happened.

Interestingly, the Miami Rock Festival has nearly as little about it. Setlist.fm seems to show who played on certain days, but it is obviously incomplete since some of the bands listed below are not on the poster above and some of the bands named on the poster are not listed below:

Sat 27 December

  • Canned Heat*
  • Vanilla Fudge

Sun 28 Dec

  • Biff Rose
  • Cold Blood
  • Grateful Dead*
  • Johnny Winter*
  • Sweetwater*
  • The Amboy Dukes
  • Paul Butterfield Blues Band*
  • The Turtles

Mon 29 Dec

  • Santana*
  • The Band*
  • Tony Joe White

Woodstock?

The amazing thing is that at least seven of the Woodstock artists were there. I have asterisked them.

Grateful Dead

Despite the fact the above breakdown comes from Setlist.fm, the only band whose link has a set list is the Dead. No surprise there. And, of course, we have a link to a soundboard recording of their show: Grateful Dead on December 28, 1969.  What that recording showsis that they played: 
  • Black Peter
  • Me And My Uncle
  • China Cat Sunflower ->
  • Jam ->
  • I Know You Rider ->
  • High Time
  • Cumberland Blues
  • Good Lovin’ ->
  • Drums ->
  • Good Lovin’
  • Cold Rain And Snow
  • Hard To Handle
  • Mason’s Children
  • Turn On Your Love Light
The Internet Archive site has the following comments:

It is possible that this is not the complete show, though it would be likely 
 that only one or two songs may have preceded Black Peter. There are 
 definitely some rough spots that vary throughout the recording (especially Black Peter), but it is overall very listenable for a show from a cassette master. Mason's Children was patched in from an alternate source (unknown lineage bootleg) as the primary source suffered from tape warble during this song. It is apparent that noise reduction was performed digitally on this song at some point on the secondary source, though the integrity of the sound does not suffer greatly. The pitch from the primary master was corrected using Sound Forge.

Black Peter comes in before the lyric "...just then the wind..." and is 
 therefore missing a couple minutes or so. Good Lovin' cuts out just over a 
 minute into the drum solo, obliterating several minutes at least. The 
 first half of Cold Rain is missing as well. 

This is a loud and very rowdy show, prompting some priceless banter from the band.

Contact me!

The only information I could find written about the festival was from the Miami Herald: Inspired by Woodstock the summer before, The Miami Rock Festival of December, 1969, drew thousands of young people determined to have fun and avoid paying admission, if they could. It wasn't in Miami. It took place at the Miami-Hollywood Speedway, then 15 long miles west of Hollywood, but now a housing development in the middle of Pembroke Pines. Performers included Mother Lode, Sweetwater, Canned Heat, Johnny Winter, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Vanilla Fudge and the Amboy Dukes. Fans were searched by police, lashed by cold winds and encouraged to "turn on to God" by Billy Graham. Graham said he appreciated the respectful welcome he got, but police made at least 47 arrests and one young man died in a fall from a spotlight tower.

If anyone has any other information or link to that information about this festival, please comment or let me know. Much appreciated.