Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival 1969

Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival 1969

Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival 1969

September 14 – 15, 1969
1969 festival #36

Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival 1969

Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival 1969

Low key

The Big Sur festivals were never meant to be like a Woodstock or even a Monterey. The first Big Sur festival was in 1964. Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places in California and some say the world.

When asked how to get there, a sensible response is, “You can’t get there from here.”

The festivals became a place as much for the artists as any attendees who managed to get in. And the stage and seating were basically at the same level, guests often sitting around the stage.

Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival 1969

Sixth

Such an approach did not mean that the performers were unknown. In fact, most were quite well-known. The line-up for 1969 demonstrated that. Keep in mind that the artists, in addition to doing their own sets, joined each other as well.

Sixth Big Sur Festival
Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell, John Sebastian, Steve Stills and Joan Baez performing at the Big Sur Folk Festival, California, 1969, from the documentary “Celebration at Big Sur” directed by Johanna Demetrakas. 20th Century Fox/Getty
  • Joan Baez
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • John Sebastian
  • Johanna Demetrakas
  • Dorothy Morrison & the Edwin Hawkins Singers
  • Mimi Fariña
  • Julie Payne
  • Ruthann Friedman
  • Carol Ann Cisneros
  • The Comb Sisters
  • Chris Ethridge
  • Flying Burrito Brothers
  • Struggle Mountain Resistance Band
Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival 1969

Celebration at Big Sur

Like the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival the same weekend and Woodstock a few weeks before, filming occurred allowing us today to view the differences between a Woodstock v a Monterey v a Big Sur v an Altamont.

Only 10 to 15 thousand people attended and Rolling Stone magazine later reported that “Everyone performed without charge. Some of the best batiks ever made decorated the spongy Esalen lawn. Children danced. Conga drummers gathered to pound the earth. A flower bed was destroyed, but the audience cleaned the trash from the grounds. The hundreds who hadn’t money to get in lined the highway on top of the hill, and didn’t crash the gates – even though there were no “gates.”

Here is a link to the several Big Sur festivals.

A Rolling Stone magazine link about this festival. Jerry Hopkins wrote in his article’s last paragraphs:

Everyone performed without charge. Some of the best batiks ever made decorated the spongy Esalen lawn. Children danced. Conga drummers gathered to pound the earth. A flower bed was destroyed, but the audience cleaned the trash from the grounds. The hundreds who hadn’t money to get in lined the highway on top of the hill, and didn’t crash the gates – even though there were no “gates.”

“I finally figured out the difference between this and a love-in,” someone said Sunday. “Four dollars.”

Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival 1969
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2 thoughts on “Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival 1969”

  1. Very cool. I think it is the first time I saw Mimi’s name listed on a concert ad.
    Not that it hasn’t many times it’s just I haven’t seen it till now.

  2. Less than a month after Woodstock 69, where I spent my first weekend ever in America, I found myself in San Francisco, where I stayed in the North Beach area with friends from Paris, and when the Big Sur Folk Festival of September 13 and 14 was announced. Many musicians listed had just performed at Woodstock, such as Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, John Sebastian, the Incredible String Band, and Joan Baez. Other greats were also going to join, such as Joni Mitchell, Dave Mason and the amazing Flying Burritos Bros.
    I took a Greyhound Bus in the tradition of Johnny B. Goode, and sat by the pool in front of the Esalen Institute overlooking the ocean. Joan Baez’s crystal voice bounced back from the mountains behind us, the sunset over the placid Pacific Ocean was breathtaking, girls were swaying in the breeze, and “California Dreamin’ was becoming a reality”.
    At the end of the day, I followed a German shepherd that followed John Sebastian down the stairs to the beach, where many camp fires were already burning. I took my shoes off, waded in the tiny ocean waves, and picked up phosphorescent plankton on top of my fingers and in the palms of my hands that glowed in shades of green and blue in the darkness of the night. I started to dance with others in a true live tableau of Dylan’s Tambourine Man : “Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky, with one hand waving free, silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands, with all memory and fate, driven deep beneath the waves, let me forget about today until tomorrow.”
    What more could this French boy want?

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