Category Archives: Woodstock Music and Art Fair

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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Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Brad Campell played at Woodstock as part of Janis Joplin’s Kosmic Blues Band. Of course, like all musicians, he’d had things happen before and many things following.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Last Words

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Though little known in the US, the first big band Brad Campell would play with was the Canadian band, The Last Words. The original group was comprised of Graeme Box (lead guitar), Ron Guenther (drums) and Noel Campbell (piano).

According to a Barbed Wire Design article, The Last Words began in Clarkson, Ontario in 1961 as the The Beachcombers.  Began and ended after two gigs.

Then, liking Ronnie Hawkins, they became the Nighthawks.

In 1964 Noel Campell left the band, but before leaving invited brother Brad to join. Brad played bass.

Now they were The Smamokins band, but that soon changed to The Last Words.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

I Symbolize You

Their first single in 1965, The Laugh’s On Me / She’ll Know How, for RCA Canada received very little air play, but in 1966 they hit the Canadian charts with a Columbia release, I Symbolize You / It Made Me Cry.

In late 1966, they released their last charted single, Give Me Time / Drive A Mini Minor, again on Columbia.

Bill Dureen left the group in 1967 and the remaining members continued with three others until 1968. Next was joining “The Paupers” with Skip Prokop (Lighthouse).

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Janis Joplin

In 1968 he went to New York.

He auditioned for Janis Joplin and she instructed her agent Albert Grossman to hire Brad.

He the Kosmic Blues band in late 1968. He’d eventually join Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band.

A Know Your Bass Player article wrote: To my ears, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band, with bassist Brad Campbell, were the perfect match to advance Janis’ groundbreaking artistry after she departed Big Brother & The Holding Company.

Throughout I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama (1969), Pearl (1971),  and tracks on the archival In Concert (1972) [Campell} fortified Ms. Joplin’s forays into soul and rhythm and blues on such classic tracks as “Try,” “Move Over,” “Half Moon,” and “Me and Bobbie McGee” with harmonic and rhythmic passages evocative of the Motown, Stax, and Atlantic Records session masters – who, at the time, were his peers.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Post Janis

Brad returned to Canada after Janis’s death.

He’d married and begin a family.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Over the past two decades he has played with several bands, onee of which was Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Campbell played banjo and did vocals for Lawson from 1993 to 1994 and played on their album Never Walk Away.

His All Music credit list.

Brad lives in Milton, Ontario.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell
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Percussionist Bobby Torres

Percussionist Bobby Torres

Percussionist Bobby Torres

How do you get your ticket punched for Woodstock?  Many ways. For Bobby Torres it was to begin by growing up in New York City, the child of parents from Puerto Rico, and to love playing the congas.

OK, but what about becoming part of Joe Cocker’s Grease Band?

Percussionist Bobby Torres

Grease Band

Well, in 1969 [in an interview with Mike Walker] Bobby relates: I saw him in 1969 playing at Fillmore East, playing with Rod Stewart and the Faces. He had the hit “Feelin’ Alright,” which was recorded with a conga player, but when he played it live he didn’t have a conga player. So he was billed at the Fillmore East, and he went to Ungano’s where I was playing on a Monday night, and asked me if I could sit in. And I said, “Sure.””

Percussionist Bobby Torres

LA > Portland > Tom Jones

The Grease Band disbanded soon after Joe Cocker left them and Bobby Torres moved to Los Angeles for the 70s where he became a key session player and then in the 80s he moved to Portland, Oregon but was often on the road as part of singer Tom Jones’s band.

Percussionist Bobby Torres

Bobby Torres Ensemble

By the 90s, Bobby Torres was back full time in Portland and became in integral part of that city’s musical scene, both jazz and Latin, with his Bobby Torres Ensemble.

Mike Walker of Portland’s McMenamins Crystal Ballroom says that, “Bobby’s ensemble has been a monthly feature of the Crystal Ballroom’s Salsa con Sabor program, staged weekly in Lola’s Room on the building’s second floor. “

Percussionist Bobby Torres

Tito Puente

Bobby Torres wants everyone to know that his musical hero is musician, songwriter and record producer, the The King of Latin Music Tito Puente. Puente was based in New York City and Torres went to hear him play whenever given the chance.

Percussionist Bobby Torres

More recently

2009
  • inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame
  • performed for Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • Time Magazine published “Woodstock, How Does it Sound 40 Years Later?” an article which included a photo of Bobby in performance on stage with Joe Cocker at Woodstock
2015
  • Bobby performed with the Tadeschi Trucks band to a crowd of over 25,000 people at the Lockin’ Festival in Virginia. This concert was a tribute to Joe Cocker and featured many of the original members of Mad Dogs & Englishmen.
2016

Bobby was given the Jazz Journalist’s Association Jazz Hero Award. This award is given to advocates, altruists, activists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities.

Percussionist Bobby Torres

Nowadays

He’s still busy…just as he’s been for decades.

Percussionist Bobby Torres

Percussionist Bobby Torres

The Letter

Percussionist Bobby Torres

 

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