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Woodstock Joyce Mitchell

Woodstock Joyce MitchellWoodstock Joyce Mitchell

Happy birthday
September 16, 1931

Male-dominated

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, An Aquarian Exposition was not an event with equal women’s representation. Few of the performers were women and while there were certainly women in attendance, males far outnumbered them.

Men also dominated those who organized the festival.

Having said that, the event could not have happened without women.

One of the first things I learned when I began teaching was that it might seem that the principal was the most important person, the people I needed to keep on the good side of and always cooperate with were the secretaries. They are the ones who actually kept the school afloat on a day-to-day basis. [As well as the custodians!]

So, too, with any event. The people taking notes, answering the phones, keeping the “boss” on task, keeping the schedule, communicating, and so many more mundane tasks are the real heroes, or more likely, the real heroines.

Such was Joyce Mitchell.

Woodstock Joyce Mitchell

Joyce Mitchell

Docents at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts love and seek out interaction with guests on tours.  On a 2021 tour, a docent wondered who this woman was who was offering so much information? It turned out to be Joyce Mitchell, who was the production coordinator at Woodstock.

It isn’t often such “royalty” anonymously joins a tour, but on that did it happened and a lifelong memory formed for that fortunate docent.

Much of the information gathered for this little post recognizing the contributions of this wonderful and demure woman came from the outstanding Woodstock podcast, Keep the Dream Flowing., Episode 21. The podcast can be found via iTunes, but the earlier episodes, like this one, are best accessed via Spotify.

Woodstock Joyce Mitchell

Wasn’t exactly sane myself

When asked how she got involved with the “crazies” of Woodstock Ventures, she responds laughing, “Well, I wasn’t exactly sane myself.

She explains that she was a hired producer and at that time doing weekly radio shows sponsored by the US Army.  She sent out recorded shows to various radio stations throughout the world for that station’s DJ to play. The “shows” were 5 or 10 minutes long.

Since the Army sponsored the show, it regularly refusaled to play certain selections Joyce had chosen, such as the Rolling Stones Street Fighting Man or the Beatles’ Back in the USSR.

She hated the job, but it paid well.

Woodstock Joyce Mitchell

Dig Latrines?

Joyce’s daughter was 13 on February 4, 1969 and Jerry Schultz, a college friend of Joyce, attended the party.  Jerry brought a guest: Stan Goldstein.  Stan and Joyce discussed their occupations. The party ended, but a week or so later, Stan called and asked, “How would you like to work on a festival?

Her response was, “Like Tanglewood?” 

Goldstein responded, “Not quite. More like Monterrey.”

And while classical music was her main love, Joyce loved all kinds of music. A lunch meeting with Goldstein and Michael Lang followed. Lang’s quiet approach attracted her to the possibility.

One of the questions Lang asked was about sanitation. How would she handle sanitation for 100,000 people? She responded that she’d have two backhoes, one to dig a long trench and the other to fill in that trench.

Lang and Goldstein laughed and said that idea was better than the military’s and offered her the job.

She asked, “What? To dig trenches?”

Woodstock Joyce Mitchell

With Michael Lang

Girls From Woodstock 1969 Show The Origin Of Today's Fashion | Bored Panda

Michael Lang and Joyce at the festivalJoyce mainly worked with Michael Lang who on May 20 had found separate office space at 513-A Avenue of the Americas so he could be away from the other organizers and concentrate on the Woodstock vision. Chip Monck and Mel Lawrence were also nearby.

Her biggest challenge was trying to keep Michael on task, keeping appointments, being on time.  She said she sometimes succeeded. She also felt he did a great job creating a Woodstock team.

She said that decades after the event, it was time for history to take over ownership of the event, but that it should always be noted that Michael Lang had created the team that made it succeed in the way it did despite the challenges that the late 60s presented to any such endeavor.

The team had a sense of transcendental peacefulness which became the festival’s hallmark despite the physical challenges the overwhelming crowd presents.

Holiday Inn/Liberty, NY

At the festival itself, one of the jobs that landed on Joyce’s steady shoulders was to drive to the usually nearby Liberty, NY and the Holiday Inn where many of the performers were booked, or more precisely, overbooked.

The Dead were willing to share rooms, but not the Who and Mitchell had no kind words for drummer Keith Moon.

The main job in Liberty, was to pay the performers their  upfront half of the contractually agreed fee. The other half to be paid at the end of the performance. It was only through the help of a police officer that she succeeded in getting to Liberty.

Because the telephone connection between her work trailer and the stage malfunctioned, she spent much of the weekend running back and forth from and to the stage delivering messages.

Woodstock Joyce Mitchell

Acid Kiss

Parts of the walkways can be seen both to the extreme right of the sound tower and to the left of the lighting tower.

A wooden walkway bridged West Shore Road to the back of the stage and then another walkway went up to the stage itself.

Joyce says she got more exercise that weekend running back and forth to and from the stage than she’s ever had. On one of the Saturday trips she ran by Doris Dynamite, a friend who gave a hug to Joyce and then gave her an open mouth kiss. Nonplused, Joyce kept going. She gradually realized that the friend had dosed her via the kiss.

Realizing she couldn’t do her job very well at that point, she wandered into the crowd and realized how the crowd had become one with the music, had become a community of trust and self-respect.

Lenny Bruce and sleep

Lenny Bruce Tapestries | TeePublic
This may have been what the flag looked like

After four-days of the festival and not getting any sleep, Joyce found a tent (marked with a Lenny Bruce flag) that someone had set up for her and collapsed into it finally allowing sleep to take over.

On her way there, she saw friend Felix Pappalardi. Reaching out to greet him, she fell into the mud. He helped her up and she went to the tent. When she finally woke up, the mud had caked to a point that, coming out of the deep sleep, she couldn’t understand why she could hardly move.

Solution? Walk into Filippini Pond.

Podcast

There are other interesting stories (both Woodstock-related and not) she touches on in the podcast regarding Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon, naked strangers, the Last Poets, Robert Kennedy, George Harrison, Miles Davis, Alan Douglas, Paris after the war, hitchhiking in Europe, and other topics each of which reflect upon a life filled with music and art.

Woodstock Joyce Mitchell

Ticia Bernuth Agri

Ticia Bernuth Agri

Happy birthday
Born September 16, 1944
Ticia Bernuth Agri
1969 in Europe. From Ticia’s Facebook page

Wallkill had evicted the Woodstock Music and Art Fair from Howard Mill’s site. It was three weeks before the festival was to start.

Stories vary of who found Max Yasgur’s field one county away in Bethel.

The one I’m buying is the one Ticia Bernuth Agri, simply Ticia Agri at the time, tells.

Ticia Bernuth Agri

Happy Avenue

She and Michael Lang, lead organizer and font of good vibes,  drove northwest on NY Rt 17 from Orange County, NY into Sullivan County, NY.  They got off at the Monticello exit and headed west on Rt 17B.

Ticia’s story is that about 9 miles later, she was the one who spotted Happy Avenue in Bethel.

But Happy Avenue is not where Max Yasgur’s field was. Happy Avenue was not where Max Yasgur lived, but the name was certainly enticing.

Michael and Ticia had to drive a mile north on Happy Avenue before coming to the West Shore Road intersection and then, fortuitously, making a left and even then having to drive another mile before arriving at the Hurd Road/West Shore Road intersection and seeing Max’s field from the bottom. It caught their eye.

Then to find Max whose home and dairy farm were about  3 miles from there.

Ticia Bernuth Agri

Who’s Ticia Agri

According to a 2009 Sea Coast online articleAgri was born in New York City and grew up in the Hudson Valley. At age 16 her parents divorced and both moved to Europe.

She lived with her father in Rome, but traveled to 72 countries, including India, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

These travels — and her stories about living on a dollar a day, coming across Arabs with bejeweled sabers, visiting a guest palace — got her the job with Woodstock Ventures in the spring of 1969.

Keep the Dream Flowing

There is a Keep the Dream Flowing podcast and  in 2019 Ticia was interviewed for it.  By the way, the podcast is an excellent one for those interested in hearing stories about Woodstock from people who are or were involved in the famous event. It’s available via the usual platforms, but the early episodes seem to be only available via Spotify.

Woodstock Appears

In the podcast (Episodes #3 and #4 from July 22 and 30, 2019 respectively) she describes herself as an adventurer and open to new people, places, and things.

In 1969, her then boyfriend who knew Stan Goldstein (one of the festivals key organizers) told her that Goldstein was looking for an assistant to Michael Lang.  She describes her reaction to the remark as a karmic one: she simply knew the job would be hers despite no experience in such matters.

The boyfriend initially ignored her requests for an interview, but Ticia’s persistence paid off. She got the interview, impressed Goldstein with her extensive travel experiences,  and became Lang’s assistant.

Her main job, an impossible one, was to keep Lang on time and on task. She tried.

Wes Pomeroy

One of the first decisions she helped with had to do with security. In one interview, the applicant described having dogs and hoses to insure tranquility. Both Agri and Lang knew he was not the one.

The next person was Wes Pomeroy who wanted security to simply help attendees. They knew he was their person. He “got it.”

Agri speaks about the festival’s intent being a blueprint for how things could be and how they tried to execute that blueprint. And doing that without commercializing the event. It was just “being together in Oneness.”

She describes Michael Lang as a “Manifester,” someone who wants  and seeks the best for everyone. The opposite of a con-artist who is always connives for their own best interests.

How Max Yasgur?

There are versions of how Woodstock Ventures and Max Yasgur. What Ticia related was that shortly after Wallkill evicted the festival, Elliot Tiber contacted Ventures offering permits and a site. When Lang and Agri arrived, the permits looked OK, but the site was a swamp.

Lang and Agri drove west on 17B and Agri saw the Happy Road street sign and yelled to Michael, “Turn!” They eventually saw the field, went back to Tiber and asked him whose land it was: Max Yasgur.

She also describes that despite the intensity of having to build their venue in three weeks, many of the hundreds of attendees who showed up days early became part of the process to create, to manifest, the event.

And how the locals offered assistance to the thousands of young people walking miles and miles toward the site.

All toward the greater good.” “It was a moment of oneness and freedom.”

Afterwards

She later moved to Woodstock and got involved in renovating a house. She became a road manager for a couple of bands, worked on other festivals, eg. Atlanta Pop Festival,

Meditation Healing

From her Meditation Healing site:

In the 1990’s, she led a meditation group at The Light and Healing Center in Exeter, NH, Where she created The Ribbon Breath Meditation. She studied over 4000 hours of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Ticia received a three year training certificate from Center IMT, for Integrative Manual Therapy, trained with the carrier of the medicine for the Aztec nation, Tzenwaxolokuatli, studied Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowen, studied shamanism for 7 years, And received her teaching certificate in 2007.

She has taught shamanic classes, and worked as a karmic healer in Italy, France, the UK and in the United States. She is currently doing long distance healings as well as working as a meditation guide to teach students to journey with their spiritual teachers to the upper, middle, and lower worlds in a safe and ethical way with the proper protocols to clean karma and Heal oneself and others.

References:

Meditation Healing site

Site Manager Chris Langhart

Site Manager Chris Langhart

Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces

Organizing any large event is like putting together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. And we could say that Woodstock was a jigsaw puzzle without a picture to go by.

Woodstock made famous the names  Michael Lang, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, Chip Monck, John Morris, Wes Pomeroy, and Hugh Romney/Wavy Gravy, but some people were just as important and aren’t nearly as well known.

Chris Langhart is one of those names.

 

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