1969 New Orleans Pop Festival

1969 New Orleans Pop Festival

1969 New Orleans Pop Festival

August 31 – September 1, 1969

Baton Rouge International Speedway

Prairieville, Louisiana

1969 festival #39

1969 New Orleans Pop Festival

1969 New Orleans Pop Festival

Woodstock in Bethel

New Orleans in Prairieville

People continue to visit Woodstock, NY wanting to visit the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair. It is an easy mistake for two reasons: 1) the town IS called Woodstock, and 2) the town still looks like that famous festival was held there because so many merchants decorate and sell dozens of festival-related items.

The New Orleans Pop Festival name has an even more interesting disconnect. Firstly, it was not held in New Orleans, but in Prairieville, Louisiana. Secondly, it was held at the Baton Rouge International Speedway.

The differences are pointed. Had Woodstock Ventures called their event the Bethel Music and Art Fair (or the Wallkill…) would  that name have been as initially interesting as branding it “Woodstock”?

Of course, that was the idea. Branding. And branding this festival the New Orleans Pop Festival made more sense than other choices.

Like Bethel there was camping at the New Orleans Pop Festival. Unlike Bethel, the camping was a few miles away so the community feel that developed at Bethel over its four days did not happen in Prairieville over its two.

1969 New Orleans Pop Festival

Steve Kapelow

Steve Kapelow and his sponsoring company, Kesi, Inc organized the event. Attendance was small compared to Woodstock two weeks earlier, about 25,000–30,000 people per day. The line up was a good one.

Organizers planned a two-day festival (as the poster indicates), but they added a free Saturday evening show. Sunday tickets went for $7.00 for advance tickets and $9.50 at the gate; Monday prices were $8.00 in advance and $10.50 at the gate. Tickets for the entire cost $13.00 in advance and $16.00 at the gate.

Saturday, August 30, 1969

  • Local bands starting playing at 6:00pm until the “official” free concert began at 8:00pm.
  • White Fox
  • Snow Rabbit
  • Deacon John and the Electric Soul Train
  • Whizbang
  • Axis
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex
  • It’s a Beautiful Day
Sunday, August 31, 1969

  • Flower Power
  • Snow Rabbit
  • Spiral Starecase
  • Oliver
  • Smyth
  • The Youngbloods
Monday, September 1, 1969

  • Potliquor
  • Axis
  • Oliver
  • Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys
  • Santana
  • Chicago
  • It’s a Beautiful Day
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex
  • The Youngbloods
  • Lee Michaels
  • Grateful Dead
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • Dr. John VooDoo Show
  • jam Session featuring Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Cat Mother, Santana, Chicago, Beautiful Day
  • Whizbang
1969 New Orleans Pop Festival

Other facts

*On Sunday, the schedule indicated that Sweetwater and White Clover were supposed to play, but the late hour cancelled their performances as well as a scheduled jam session. Doug Kershaw from Louisiana played as well but is not mentioned. Organizers likely  moved both groups to Monday’s lineup,but local media reports do not show that to be the case.

*On Monday,  a flower drop was supposed to take place during the Potliquor performance, but the plane missed its target and dropped the flowers onto nearby fields instead of on the crowd.

*Glen McKay and his crew, known as the Headlights presented light shows Sunday and Monday nights.

*As was so often the case, the Grateful Dead recorded their performance and it is available at the Internet Archive site.

The Dead of the Day companion site has this interesting tidbit about their performance: Stories of the New Orleans International Pop Festival abound on the internet, and one thing that just about all of them include is references to seriously drunk southerners. For instance, you cannot hear it on the recording, but a number of people talk about a group of drunk guys near the front who kept yelling for White Rabbit throughout the Dead’s set. Jefferson Airplane had played right before the Dead, and, as you would expect, Grace Slick was not about to oblige the obnoxious loudmouths by playing it. By the time the Dead started their set, the drunk dudes had a few more and might not even have noticed – and certainly did not care – that a new band had taken the stage.

Ah Youth

Young and energetic, the following bands also played the same weekend at the Texas International Pop Festival:

  1. Canned Heat
  2. Chicago Transit Authority
  3. Janis Joplin
  4. Santana
  5. Sweetwater
1969 New Orleans Pop Festival

Next 1969 festival: First Annual Midwest Mini-Pop Festival

5 thoughts on “1969 New Orleans Pop Festival”

  1. I attended all 3 days and slept in the back seat of my ’57 Chevy. Only regret was not bringing a larger ice chest. By Sunday, all the food was gone and folks were leaving early. Drove all the way to Laplace before I found a store that hadn’t had been wiped out by everybody.

    Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

  2. What a great memory! Even better, I remember swimming in a pond with several folks when a rather large young black man had gone under near the middle of the pond. Several watched as he went under a couple of more times. I remember screaming to a group nearer to him, saying “”he is drowning, isn’t anyone going to help”? People were stunned, I dove in, swam to him and retrieved him from under water. I managed to get him near shore where his combative reaction nearly drowned me. I asked loudly for the crowd to form a chain to help me! We were able to rescue this young man, and I remember how thankful he was! This is a memory that will last forever! Peace.

  3. Any Byrds probably should be mentioned as being at the New Orleans festival. Their name is not translated to as big a group as Santana over the years but at the time, they may have had the largest gathering as well as generated the most excitement and talk about who was there.

    I think he was actually a historical moment because the great Clarence White had just joined the bands, unique playing style with the band s new direction Sweetheart Of The Rodeo launched an entirely new genre for rock and roll and inspired the groups that followed, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Eagles, Poco, Even bands like the Rolling
    Stones followed that direction. Heard guitar legends from Jeff Beck to bluegrass legend Tony Rice call Clarence White best flat picker that ever lived, not sure if I agree but his presence gave the Byrds a sonic weapon no one had heard, there was else who could even play, much less had mastered Clarence’s home-made prototype B-Bender Telecaster (which has been in production by Fender for over 3 decades now) a pedal steel player could emulate his sound, to hear this coming from standing guitarist a rock band had the effect sounded like an alien had just landed from another world. Sorry to get carried away but The Byrds New Orleans Pop was a moment when rock and roll’s history was altered and a new genre was born. Unfortunately, I don’t think Clarence White lived very long after that night but his brief
    presence created the legacy of an entirely new concept, alone was one of the biggest parts of what created the formation of legendary bands mentioned above as well as a complete change of direction in many others. I believe there is only one known photograph of Clarence White that night in Prairieville precious few anywhere else. Just thought it should be mentioned
    be mentioned and in the big picture, could be the most significant thing that happened there.

  4. DO NOT POST!!!!!!

    To the moderator. I regret not proofreading my post. In speaking the text, voice translation was not great. Please feel free to edit maybe I felt necessary for coherence. Ex.

    1. The Byrds.. , not, Any Byrds
    2. has translated…. Not, is translated
    3. I think it was actually a historical… Not, I think he was actually
    4 entirely new guitar concept… New concept
    Etc, etc.,etc. Other similar editing would be welcome. Or, if you think it was just too much, I totally understand if you don’t print. As a career guitarist and speaking for other professionals know, I think the quite a few would consider that moment, Clarence White first performing with the Byrds, a major R&R event. Thanks

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