Northern California Folk-Rock Festival

Northern California Folk-Rock Festival

May 23 – 25, 1969

1969 Festival #7

Northern California Folk-Rock Festival

 This blog entry is on the second of the three 1969 rock festivals held on Memorial Day weekend. The first piece was on the Aquarian Family Festival in Santa Clara, California.

This entry is on its rival a half-mile away: the Northern California Folk-Rock Festival. The Aquarian was a two-day free event. The Northern California Folk-Rock Festival was a three-day ticketed event.

1968 debacle

The first Northern California Folk-Rock Festival had happened in 1968 and had issues. Some of the bands advertised weren’t actually booked and PCP sent hundreds of attendees to the local emergency room. “Never again” was the immediate reaction by local law enforcement, but a year later the second (and last) NCFRF came off.

How? According to the Rock Prosopography siteAfter the drug-addled debacle of the previous year, it was surprising that there was an encore. Supposedly the promoters managed to rent the Fairgrounds on false pretenses, and then started advertising Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, even though they had neither under contract. The festival ended up occurring, and was well attended, but the city and county made sure there wasn’t any further events.

Northern California Folk-Rock Festival

1969 happens

Northern California Folk-Rock Festiva
Newspaper announcement that festival would be allowed.

The Northern California Folk Rock Festival, organized by Bob Blodgett, was held  at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. It had a stellar line-up. I’ve highlighted those who would perform at Woodstock in August.

Jimi Hendrix, now a super-star was the main attraction. It is a portion of his “Red House” performance that is heard at the top of this entry and the full 11-minutes in the YouTube selection below.

Northern California Folk-Rock Festival

         A great lineup by any measure

  • Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • The Chambers Brothers
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Eric Burdon
  • Spirit
  • Canned Heat
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie
  • The Youngbloods
  • Steve Miller
  • Chuck Berry
  • Muddy Waters
  • Taj Mahal
  • Lee Michaels
  • Blues Image
  • Santana
  • Aum
  • Elvin Bishop
  • Poco
  • People!
  • Lynn County
  • Loading Zone
  • Sweet Linda Divine
  • Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys
  • Doc Watson & New Lost City Ramblers

Northern California Folk-Rock Festival

No recording/no film

Unlike Woodstock, but exactly like the more than two dozen other major festivals in 1969, the Northern California Folk-Rock Festival was not filmed nor recorded. The overpiece song at the top of this entry is Sweet Linda Divine from her solo album. Sadly most of us have not heard of Linda Tillery, but from the powerful performance we hear a piece of, we should have. And I’m sure the same can be said of many of  the other performers from this sadly “unknown” festival.

Northern California Folk-Rock Festival

The Concierge Photo dot com site has several photos of the event. Check them out.

Northern California Folk-Rock Festival

Next 1969 festival: Big Rock Pow Wow

4 thoughts on “Northern California Folk-Rock Festival”

    1. Are you sure tickets were $4.00? That was the price for the previous year’s concert (May 1968) as shown on the poster. The poster for 1969 has no ticket price that I can see. However, due to the “high” ticket prices, an alternative festival was held nearby on the grounds of San Jose State and it was called the Aquarian Family Festival. It was free and quite a range of things happened there. I went to all three things – the freebie and the two at the Fairgrounds. So, I am thinking the tickets were $8-10.00, thus the outrage.

      1. I was also at both concerts and swear that Bob Dylan appeared at the free concert around 3:00AM. Perhaps it was just a great imitator as I have never found confirmation. I also noticed that Chuck Berry is not highlighted above but I remember him singing My Ding-a-Ling there.

  1. The “free concert “ was put together by Bill Graham. Jimmu Hendrix flew in on Graham’s helicopter,The timing was well executed, It’s negative economic effect on the Folk Rock Festival was considerable . I was selling posters at the festival, it was perfect for a high school job

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