Category Archives: Music of the 60s

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

1969 festival #17
July 5 and July 11 -12
Spectrum, Philadelphia

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

The Spectrum was an indoor arena that opened in the fall of 1967. Like any modern indoor arena, the venue hosted many things. For Philadelphia it was used for  basketball, ice hockey, arena football, indoor soccer, indoor lacrosse, and, of course, concert events.

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

Festival-filled summer

On July 5 and on July 11 and 12, during that festival-filled summer of 1969, there was a three day event there. It was divided into four shows: one evening show on Saturday 5 July; one evening show on Friday 11 July and two on Saturday 12 July–an afternoon and an evening show.

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

Saturday 5 July

As you can see from the above advertisement,  the first show featured black artists, with the James Brown Show headlining. Chicago’s Young Holt-Unlimited, with their hit Soulful-Strut.

Tyrone Davis, with his hit…

and the comedian Nipsy Russell.

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

Friday 11 July

Friday’s line-up was an impressive one with future Woodstock performers Sly and the Family Stone and Ten Years After along with Jeff Beck, the Mothers of Invention, and Savoy Brown. I would have like to have been there that night!

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

Saturday afternoon 12 July

The Saturday afternoon show only had two bands: Blood, Sweat and Tears and the Hawkins Singers.

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival
from a Led Zeppelin fan site
1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

Saturday evening 12 July

Saturday evening was the stronger line-up: Led Zeppelin, Johnny Winter, Al Kooper, Jethro Tull, and the Buddy Guy Blues Band.

As you may notice, there was a heavy emphasis on soul music and the electric blues whether played by blacks or whites.  Though there were some blues-influenced bands at Woodstock such as Johnny Winter and Ten Years After the following month, the absence of such artists as Buddy Guy and James Brown leave some scratching their heads. Young whites’ interest in the original blues artists had already returned and such artists were regularly featured in many other festivals that summer.

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival

So Long Spectrum

A little more than a year after the arena’s final event (a Pearl Jam concert) took place on October 31, 2009.  the Spectrum was demolished (between November 2010 and May 2011) .

1969 Spectrum Summer Music Festival
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Bullfrog Lake Music Festival

Bullfrog Lake Music Festival

Estacada, Oregon
July 4, 5, and 6, 1969

Bullfrog Lake Music Festival

1969 festival #16!

Yet another!

The more I look, the more I run into when it comes to 1969 festivals and here is another one, albeit, a small one even by small standards.

Bullfrog Lake Music Festival

Jefferson Airplane headline

This festivals site was on private land at Bullfrog Lake Trailer Park about 20 miles south of Portland. Jefferson Airplane was the main band. They play on July 6.

Another band was the Sons of Champlin. (video from 1968):

Bullfrog Lake Music Festival

Ace of Cups

…the Ace of Cups (again a ’68 video)

The Ace of Cups  were one of the first all-female rock bands. The members were Mary Gannon (bass), Marla Hunt (organ, piano), Denise Kaufman (guitar, harmonica), Mary Ellen Simpson (lead guitar), and Diane Vitalich (drums).  All but Vitalich sang lead and  all five sang backup. Songwriting, too, was shared.

Bullfrog Lake Music Festival

Many more

Family Tree may have been a Caribbean band and if so this may be    an example of them. It’s nice stuff…similar to Santana.

Plus the Portland Electric Zoo Band,  Mixed Blood, and other local bands.

Bullfrog Lake Music Festival

Silent film

It wasn’t recorded nor filmed professionally, but below is a silent super-8 film from the event.

While not big by festival standards, it was apparently successful enough to inspire organizers to hold a second Bull Frog festival that same summer. It ran into a few issues and locals cancelled it, but from its ashes that same weekend Bull Frog 3 rose.

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1969 Mississippi River Festival

1969 Mississippi River Festival

June – July 1969
Southern Illinois University
Edwardsville, IL

1969 festival #7

Nearly all the 1969 festivals I’ve written about were two- or three-day events with several performers each day. I did have a piece on the 1969 Forest Hills Music Festival in Queens, NYC, even though it was a summer-long event because so many festival-type rock groups were part of it.

1969 Mississippi River Festival

Southern Illinois University

In 1969, Southern Illinois University initiated the Mississippi River Festival. Though primarily designed as a summer residence for the St Louis Symphony Orchestra (with Walter Susskind the conductor), [a la Tanglewood in Massachusetts featuring the Boston Pop Orchestra] the Mississippi River Festival regularly featured other types of music over its typical two-month (30 dates) run. Not quite the kind of weekend festival featuring several performers each day that typified the most other 1969 festivals, the MRF nonetheless featured many of the same performers who were at those festivals.

1969 Mississippi River Festival

1969 Mississippi River Festival

Circus tent

Organizers located the venue inside a custom-made circus tent with seating for approximately 1,900 guests.  The tent had one open wall to allow for lawn spectators.

Here is a 14-minute video which mostly covers the early organization of the inaugural season. It features mainly the orchestra.

A Carmina Burana soundtrack backs the video!

1969 Mississippi River Festival

Not Woodstock Ventures

Viewers might find it interesting and amusing to watch how formalized the MRF organizers were compared to those of Woodstock Ventures.  These organizers sit a table, coffee cups in front of them, men in jackets and ties, women dressed for “church.

Because it was a two-month season, attendees could purchase a season pass for every show available.

The St Louis Dispatch has a slide show entitled, “Glory Days of the Mississippi River Festival.

1969 Mississippi River Festival

Grateful Dead
1969 Mississippi River Festival

1969 Mississippi River Festival

Great guests

Over the 11-year run of its existence, many other great bands played the Mississippi River Festival, such as, Grateful Dead, the Who, Jimmy Buffett, Yes, Janis Joplin, the Flying Burrito Brothers (in 1970 with Gram Parsons), Joni Mitchell.

Below is a chart with the various rock- or folk-related groups that played in 1969. It is a great selection.

1969 Mississippi River Festival

Dylan out of circulation?

Of special note is July 14. The Band played.  It is “common knowledge” that Bob Dylan did not perform at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. And that is true. It is also common knowledge that Bob Dylan’s first public performance following his July 29, 1966 motorcycle accident was at the Isle of Wright event the end of August 1969. Common knowledge? Yes. Accurate? No.

Who came out to play with The Band on their 4-song encore? You guessed it: Bob Dylan. I think that qualifies as a public appearance, don’t you?

1969 Mississippi River Festival

1969 Mississippi River Festival

June 23 – July 27, 1969

Date Performer Notes Paid attendance
6/23 Buffy Sainte-Marie 2268
6/24 Modern Jazz Quartet The Galactic Vision projected a light show on a screen behind MJQ 1542
6/26 Paul Butterfield Blues Band High winds forced lawn guests to seek shelter 3449
7/1 Janis Joplin na
Aorta
7/7 Arlo Guthrie  

The National Educational Television Network recorded the concert.

3753
Joni Mitchell
7/10 Iron Butterfly 12,735
Blues Image
7/14 The Band Bob Dylan came out for the Band’s encore and played four songs with them. This was his first public performance since his July 29,1966 motorcycle accident 4082
7/17 Ian and Sylvia They called their band the Great Speckled Bird 2487
7/21 New Christy Minstrels 5711
7/22 Richie Havens 2753
Eddie Fisher Trio The EFT was an East St Louis jazz band
7/23 Joan Baez 11,052

In their 2006 book , The Mississippi River Festival, Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber wrote: To host the symphony, the university created an outdoor concert venue within a natural amphitheater by installing a large circus tent, a stage and acoustic shell, and a sophisticated sound system. To appeal to the widest possible audience, the university included contemporary popular musicians in the series. The audacity of the undertaking, the charm of the venue, the popularity of the artists, the excellence of the performances, and the nostalgic memory of warm summer evenings have combined to endow the festival with legendary status among those who attended. [Edwardsville Intelligencer article about book]

1969 Mississippi River Festival

r Festival

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