My pix Woodstock Music and Art Fair August 15, 16, & 17, 1969
35 mm + a binoculars
After looking at my pictures, perhaps you'd like to listen to a cut from the first albums of the bands who played Woodstock >>>
Premier album or read the essay I wrote about my experience >>> 20 Years After 10 Years After
Before driving to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, I borrowed my girlfriend's father's 35 mm camera and his binoculars. Friend Tony and I had our tickets and heard the traffic warnings. The plan was that we'd drive up to this place called Bethel late Friday night in plenty of time for Saturday's show, drive home, and bring Joyce back up for Sunday's show. She would make brownies--old school.
Obviously that didn't happen, but we did get married a bit over two years later and Joyce still makes the best brownies--old school--anywhere. Here are those pictures. They've held up pretty well because they were slides. Remember them?
(Click on an image and it will open in a separate window. I find it interesting to scroll around each picture looking for a style, a face, or some little thing that stirs one’s imagination)
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Rt 17B going west on Saturday morning. Sleepers, walkers, and sleepwalkers.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair, still walking on 17B
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The guy in the blue shirt carrying a sleeping bag is friend Tony whose car we used to get from NJ to Bethel…well 8 miles from Bethel.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Some were heading home even on that Saturday morning.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. These locals sold dogs and soda for $1 each. We skipped the price-gauging and decided to buy on site. That didn’t quite work out.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. We sat down in our two-sleeping bag spot on the hill, slightly left of the stage about 2/3 of the way up the hill. This guy was sitting in front of us. I’d never seen such a hat or umbrella. It was a parasol, of course.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. This is where the Food for Love tents were behind us. Problem: plenty of love but no food.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The light and speaker towers (“Please get down from the towers.”) In the background is the yet unfinished medical tent. The sound system, designed specifically for the event by Bill Hanley, was outstanding. Two speaker towers (one on each side of the stage) and each tower had four large speakers. Also note Filipini Pond in the middle background…that’s where I didn’t see all the skinny dipping. The unfinished structure before the pond is the artist tent. It was Saturday, remember, and because of the limited time the organizers had to set up after Wallkill evicted the festival such amenities were far behind schedule.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Waiting for Saturday’s music to start.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Who was there? Kids getting sunburned.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The opening band for Saturday: unheralded Quill.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. This couple was from California. After Country Joe they asked Tony and me, “Ever hear of this next band?” We said “No.”
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. After that next band, someone called Santana, finished a song called “Soul Sacrifice” 400,000 people stood up and yelled and applauded and shouted and stamped and called out and cheered. I’ve never experienced any like it.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Same moment (Santana ovation). Note the pink and white striped hospital tent in the distance. Also note the pink and white tent in the background. That’s the hospital tent. What was the biggest medical issue of the weekend? Overdoses? Bad trips? No and no. Cut feet from dropped pop tops. How uninteresting!
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. I got tired of taking group pictures and saw a peace pillow. On the hillside, most used sleeping bags. My Woodstock Music and Art Fair pix
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. “Please get down from the towers.” Note that the artist tent has a bit of canvas on top now.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Tired of taking pictures of pillows and the crowd, I saw a balloon. Camp site on the far hill.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The far hillside field filled with campers. Also note the tent made out of a sheet.
Looking for an open spot after scoring a can of soda–pull-tab top of course.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Note the light wooden fence in the middle of the picture. Made of varied-length boards, the wall surrounded the stage and performer areas. While some attendees may have ignored a few chain link fences, the wooden wall remained intact the entire weekend used mainly as a good spot to dry clothes and sleeping bags.
A gray hungry evening.
I knew it was literally and figuratively a shot in the dark (remember I’m shooting with one roll of slide film, not a digital camera with “unlimited” shots available), but I took one picture of the stage at night. Not sure who the band was. It’s Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Mountain? Creedence Clearwater Revival? The Who?
The Who have finished, but Jefferson Airplane are yet to come on. Grace Slick walks on and says, “All right friends, you have seen the heavy groups, now you will see morning maniac music. Believe me, yeah.”
Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The early risers stretch for the Airplane.
Good morning sunshine. I’ve forgotten the reasons I took many of these pictures, but this one I do know why. Can you find the bubble? Bubbles are cool. Who’s blowing bubbles at 6 in the morning?
The largest afro I’d ever seen and bleached at that. Plus the guy next to her was the smartest person that weekend. He pulled out his car’s seat and put it on the field. Was he the only spectator that weekend with a seat?
And my time is coming to an end. I saw a guy all weekend carrying around a banner that read, “Love your animal friends, don’t eat them.” In 1969, a vegetarian was someone you took a picture of, even if Joe Cocker was singing.
Joe Cocker through my binoculars. After his performance, the summer storm thundered and no chant could stop it. Tired. Hungry. Wet. Wondering if our car was still there? Having to be at work the next morning. We hitched back down 17B. Our car was there (thank you), it started (thank you), and I’ve reached the end of my photographic tale. Thank you.
My two tickets purchased at Village Oldies in NYC where I was working for the summer at One New York Plaza with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as an apprentice before returning to my sophomore year of college. Visit the Bethel Woods site to see what’s happening today: http://www.bethelwoodscenter.org/