Tag Archives: Woodstock Music & Art Fair

Bethel’s Woodstock

Bethel’s Woodstock

July 1969

Bethel's Woodstock
Rt 17B, early Saturday morning 16 August 1969 (photo by J Shelley)

Wallkill declines

On  July 14, 1969, Woodstock Ventures had again met with Wallkill town officials and presented its revised application for the festival. Wallkill had instituted new ordinances and Woodstock Ventures felt it had done what was necessary to meet those demands. 

The next day, in a closed session at the town hall, the Wallkill Zoning Board of Appeals passed judgment on the status of Woodstock Venture’s application for a permit. The five-member board refused to allow the festival to build anything on the 200-acre site. 

July 16: officials posted  an eviction notice on the front door of Howard Mill’s barn (one of the organizing locations for the festival) The notice told Woodstock Ventures to vacate the premises. To this point Woodstock Ventures had sold approximately 150,000 tickets for each day and had spent $500,000 on the concert. Woodstock Ventures went to court. (see July 21 below)

Bethel’s Woodstock

The move to Bethel, New York is a bit shrouded in a Sullivan County early morning fog. That is not surprising. No one followed Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, or John Roberts around with a tape recorder or notepad to document every word for posterity. No one knew that posterity would be interested.

That same day (July 16) Mel Lawrence (Director of Operations) and Michael Lang took a helicopter over nearby areas looking for a concert new location. 

While they were gone, Elliott Tieber apparently contacted Woodstock Ventures about a place in Bethel, NY, 30 miles away. Tieber's family ran the El Monaco Motel at the intersection of Rts 17B and 55. 

Upon investigation, the site was completely unsuitable. Tieber (perhaps, perhaps not) set up a meeting with Max Yasgur.

Max and men on the moon

July 17: although not particularly interested, Max Yasgur agreed to meet with Woodstock Ventures. Area media had covered the festival's troubles in Wallkill and Yasgur knew all about the Wallkill eviction. 

July 18: in the morning before the Yasgur meeting, Michael Lang and Ticia Bernuth (production assistant) explored the Bethel area. They saw an area they thought suitable.

The first site Yasgur offered did not please Lang. Yasgur offered another site, a field he owned about a mile away. It was the same site Lang and Bernuth had seen that morning. Yasgur and Lang made an  agreement.

July 20: Neil Armstrong walks on the moon



July 20: someone nailed a sign to tree at driveway entrance.

Bethel's Woodstock

July 21: Judge Edward O’Gorman handed down a decision. It banned the festival from the Wallkill site. That evening, the Bethel Council unanimously voted to grant permission to Woodstock Ventures to hold the festival.

Bethel's Woodstock

July 22:  Mel Lawrence brought festival workers from Wallkill to Bethel. He held a general meeting at Tieber's El Monaco Motel.             

July 24: the Bethel Supervisor reported that he’d received about twenty phone calls from residents opposed to festival, but no legal threats.          

July 26: Wes Pomeroy, the Chief of Security, began interviewing NYC police. He explained that those selected will not be in uniform, will carry no weapons, and will not hassle attendees about drug use, dress, or language.           

That same day a local petition circulated to ban the festival.

Yasgur continued to support his decision and made the following statement: "I hear you are considering changing the zoning law to prevent the festival. I hear you don't like the look of the kids who are working at the site. I hear you don't like their lifestyle. I hear you don't like they are against the war and that they say so very loudly. . . I don't particularly like the looks of some of those kids either. I don't particularly like their lifestyle, especially the drugs and free love. And I don't like what some of them are saying about our government. However, if I know my American history, tens of thousands of Americans in uniform gave their lives in war after war just so those kids would have the freedom to do exactly what they are doing. That's what this country is all about and I am not going to let you throw them out of our town just because you don't like their dress or their hair or the way they live or what they believe. This is America and they are going to have their festival."

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Jack Casady

Jack Casady

Happy birthday to you
April 13, 1944
Jack Casady
Jack Casady with the Jefferson Airplane
Jack Casady grew up in Washington, DC. He found an old guitar in his parents' attic.  Jack was 12. The guitar had four stings. For Christmas, his parents gave him a certificate to take guitar lessons.
Jack used money from part-time neighborhood jobs to buy his first electric guitar, a ’58 Fender Telecaster, He and his dad built an amp from a kit.
A high school friend of his brother's came to visit one afternoon. The brother's friend was Jorma Kaukonen. The two boys quickly realized that they shared a love of blues and records (echoes the story of Bob "The Bear" Hite and Alan "Owl" Wilson >>> Bob Hite). They briefly formed The Triumphs.
When Kaukonen left for Antioch College (Ohio) and Jack continued playing local gigs. One gig needed a bassist. Jack filled in and realized he loved the instrument.
1964 and Beatlemania (Beatlemania link) struck and left blues-oriented bassists on the sidelines.

1965 Jorma called

He was out in San Francisco and had joined a band. Jack laughed at the name. Jefferson Airplane. When Jorma heard Jack played bass he told Jack that the band needed a bassist. Jack went to San Francsico.

Jack Casady

October 1965. According to Casady, “What was great for me was the opportunity of coming to San Francisco in that environment in the mid ’60s where you had a tremendous number of middle class white kids trying desperately to do anything their parents didn’t. And all these kids were suddenly out there playing instruments, making up songs. And that whole coming together aspect created some different music, most of it not keeping up to professional polish of other areas of the country, but still, people wanted to make their own statement. And so I found myself in this band that I thought was the craziest band I had ever seen.”
The Airplane became one one of the hallmark bands of the era and whose story is too long to include here. Suffice to say, the music of that time would not be the same without them. From a personal viewpoint, their Woodstock performance was one of highlights of my long concert-attending life.
Jack Casady
1969-08-17 Sunday sunrise just before the Airplane began (photo by J Shelley)
Jorma and Jack never lost their love of the blues and in 1970 they formed their Hot Tuna duo. For Airplane fans used to its psychedelic sounds, Tuna was a revelation.
46 years later, Tuna continues. You'll need a couple of hours, but here's a show from July 18, 2015.

Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp

Today Jack Casady regularly joins Jorma at his Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp to teach bass.
With the engineers at Epiphone Guitars, he has developed the Jack Casady Signature Bass.  According to Casady, “Epiphone and I designed this bass to my exact specifications, certainly a dream come true. I feel we really created a comfortable bass that carries a great, warm tone, and is a lot of fun to play! And it also looks great.”
Casady has played on dozens of albums. Here is a link to that very long list >>> All Music discography.
In 1996, Jack Casady was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Jefferson Airplane.

Nicky Hopkins

Nicky Hopkins

February 24, 1944 — September 6, 1994

Nicky Hopkins

I regularly mention in these blog entries that sitting and listening to my vinyl albums "back in the day" was different mainly because my constant companion was the record's album cover. Perhaps following the lyrics. Perhaps looking at a personnel list. Song timings. Writers. Producers. There was a lot to look at and if the cover were a gatefold, well my goodness gracious! Twice as much for the money. Of course there was always the possibility of even more with a special insert--thank you Sgt Pepper for starting that trend!
One of the names that popped up in seemingly the most widely varied places was this pianist Nicky Hopkins.
When I stared at the Woodstock sunrise that long-ago August 17, 1969 and heard Grace Slick announce "The regular guys...and Nicky Hopkins"  I thought to myself, "There's that guy again!"
Nicky Hopkins
1969-08-17 Sunday sunrise at Woodstock (photo by J Shelley)

Nicky Hopkins

Nicky Hopkins had Crohn’s disease from childhood which plagued him in school and during his career, but his talent on the keyboard won him a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London.
He had early success playing with bands such as Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages which became part of Cyril Davies's All Stars. The nascent Rolling Stones occasionally opened for the All Stars.
In May 1963, Crohn’s disease put him in hospital for 19 months during which Cyril Davies died.
Too weak to tour with a band, Nicky Hopkins became a piano sessions player. He would become The piano sessions player.
He is perhaps best know for his work with the Rolling Stones--that's him in the intro sound above with the vocals removed. He worked with Led Zeppelin. The Kinks. The Who. He was in the Jeff Beck Group. The New Riders of the Purple Sage. Steve Miller Band. Quicksilver Messenger Service. Jerry Garcia Band. His credit list at AllMusic feels endless: AllMusic credits
He played electric piano on  the Beatles "Revolution." He worked with Harry Nilsson
In 1972, Nicky Hopkins, Ry Cooder, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts, Hopkins released the album Jamming with Edward! [Edward was Hopkins's nickname]

Nicky Hopkins

Hopkins died on 6 September 1994, at the age of 50, in Nashville from complications resulting from intestinal surgery.
In 2010, Random House published a biography, "And On Piano...Nicky Hopkins", written by Julian Dawson.

Nicky Hopkins