Tag Archives: Festivals

1969 Toledo Pop Festival

1969 Toledo Pop Festival

September 14, 1969

Toledo Raceway Park
1969 Festival #36

From the Pizza Don’t Go Bad site:

Four short weeks after Jimi Hendrix closed the generation-defining Woodstock Festival with a soul-stirring, whammy-bar laden performance of the Star Bangled Banner, Toledo fans got a homegrown opportunity to air out their freak flags courtesy of the daylong Toledo Pop Festival.Culled primarily from the S.E. Michigan/N.W. Ohio axis of high-energy rock’n’roll, the day’s slightly disparate line-up featured a virtual who’s who of Rust Belt axe-slingers: Brothers Wayne Kramer and the late-great Fred “Sonic” Smith from the MC5; Ted Nugent from the Amboy Dukes; The Frost’s Dick Wagner, who would later go on to co-write, record, and tour extensively with the likes of Alice Cooper and Lou Reed, among others; Ron Koss of Savage Grace; Gary Quackenbush of SRC; Steve Correll of The Rationals; and, the soon-to-be-known-as “Leather Tuscadero” in the persona of one Miss Suzi Quatro, performing bass, vocal and jail-bait duties for the Pleasure Seekers, a band consisting chiefly of her brothers and sisters.

1969 Toledo Pop Festival

PDGB wonders if the concert promoter’s somewhat curious decision to place feel-good hit-makers The Turtles atop a bill filled largely with outfits known for their aggressive, potentially incendiary histrionics was -at least in part- a conscious decision intended to serve as a musical blow-off valve, The Turtles cheery melodies and infectious lyrics helping to ease the attendees transition from frenzied jam kick-outing to the parking lot slough that awaited them. Then again, maybe they just needed a big name to sell some tickets.

Either way, we’re sure the inevitable twenty minute-plus live rendition of “Happy Together” didn’t go unnoticed, reshuffling the synapses of numerous first-time psychedelic users so completely that even now, some forty-years later, the simple act of hearing said melody errantly whistled by passerby is capable of triggering intense psychotic episodes of such severity that even immediate medical attention followed by years of therapy can’t guarantee the return of normal brain activity. Way to go Boomers!

Held at Toledo Raceway Park (which we assume is the Horse racing facility of approximately the same name that still stands in North Toledo today) the $5.00 admission ($4.25 Advance) was an unbelievable bargain, even adjusted for inflation. 

1969 Toledo Pop Festival

 

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1969 Wonderland Pop Festival

1969 Wonderland Pop Festival

August 13 – 14, 1969
Wonderland Gardens, London, Ontario

1969 festival #25

1969 Wonderland Pop Festival

Well, here’s another 1969 festival that is a little one and likely why little is known about it.  Here’s what I’ve found:

1969 Wonderland Pop Festival

Dennis Dunaway’s story

From the Alternative Control siteDennis Dunaway is the bassist from the original Alice Cooper lineup. He has a Wonderland Pop Festival story that includes Woodstock.

On the afternoon of July 26th, 1969, the Alice Cooper group played the Eugene Pop Festival at the University of Oregon with the Doors, the Youngbloods, the Byrds, Them and others. Nearby Creswell was where I spent my childhood, and where my grandparents still had the farm where I had spent the summer of ’64 working to get the money to buy my first bass. So my Grandma came to the show, and afterwards the band followed her back to the farm for a delicious home cooked meal. Then my Grandpa loaded the outrageous looking Alice Cooper group into the back of his pickup and took us around to meet his neighbors. They all asked if we were from the “Hippy Farm,” which we soon found out was a nearby commune owned by Ken Kesey who wrote One Flew Over TheCukoo’s Nest. So after we bid my grandparents farewell, the band went to visit Kesey. But it looked like the few people stirring were recovering from a wild night. One guy sat by a smoldering camp fire with a mic plugged into an amp attached to an orange extension cord that snaked all the way back to the house. Loudly through the microphone, he explained that the bus that the two other hippies were painting psychedelic patterns on was about to be driven across the country to upstate New York for a big music festival. He loudly said it would be the biggest festival of them all. Two weeks later (August 13th), we were opening for The Mothers of Invention at the Wonderland Pop Festival in London, Ontario. Alice and I asked Frank Zappa why we weren’t playing at the big music festival in New York that weekend? Frank said, “Because we don’t want to.”

1969 Wonderland Pop Festival

From the Original Glen Buxton site

Glen Buxton was the Alice Cooper guitarist: Review in the London Free Press, August 15, 1969. The headline reads “Wonderland ‘rocked’ by pop festival”.

The festival ran 13th and 14th Aug. Alice Cooper gets the biggest mention in the review:

“Alice Cooper stomped on a metal satchel, speared the big bass drum, threw microphones and stands on the stage, drummed out all the violent motions of war, and died.

“It was a groovy scene. And it happened in London.

“Alice Cooper–it’s the name of a light-popping, five-man rock group from Arizona–was one of six groups on stage Thursday at Wonderland, wrapping up London’s first pop festival.”

1969 Wonderland Pop Festival

A little bit of help?

Sorry nothing else, but as always let me know if you know something. Thanks.

1969 Wonderland Pop Festival
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1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

August 1, 2, and 3, 1969
Fuller Flatlands, MI
1969 festival #25
1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Whites and the Blues

With civil rights and anti-establishment sentiments in the air, there were  numbers of white kids searching outside the popular top-10 musical box.  Of course they’d already heard Brits  Eric Burdon, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and John Mayall’s interpretations of American Blues, but eventually and not surprisingly, those same white kids “discovered” what had been in front of them all along: true Blues.

University of Michigan sophomore John Fishel was one of those white kids. Bert Stratton was another. He said, “…in those days to like the blues was to be part of an exclusive, rebellious club. It was like a secret language. If you were a young white kid who was into the black blues you thought you were pretty cool.”

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

University backed

A group of University of Michigan students  led by Fishel decided to hold a Blues festival.

Quoted in a 2009 Ann Arbor Chronicle article, Fishel said, ““Somebody put me in touch with one or two people. It ended up with maybe four or five of us getting together. Some of us knew each other, some didn’t. We really didn’t have a concept at the time. We didn’t know whether it would be a series or a one-shot deal. We didn’t know whether it was an inside show in an auditorium, or whether it was an outdoor show. But I agreed to do the entertainment part of it.”

The group asked their school for sponsorship and two university-connected nonprofit entities – the University Activities Center (UAC), and Canterbury House, the student Episcopalian organization – put up $70,000 for the event.

The kids did good!

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Chicago

That spring the group visited Chicago to test the waters: what true blues performers attracted the best crowds? Luther Allison was one they found.

They invited Allison to play at a free show in April and the reception was great. The group knew they could continue.

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Ann Arbor, the Not-Woodstock

According to a 2018 Forbes article, “When Ann Arbor Blues Festival opened in 1969, it wasn’t just the first blues festival in Michigan — it was the first blues festival ever.”

As a Woodstock alum, it is hard to criticize what so many think of as the greatest festival of all time.  History and commercialism have  ways of distorting reality when reality is mostly a subjective,  not a single unequivocal experience.

Woodstock, for all its outstanding and now-historic performers and performances, lacked true blues. Ten Years After, Paul Butterfield, Canned Heat, and Blood Sweat and Tears all provided their interpretation of original Blues.

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Ann Arbor Line up

August 1, Friday Night

  • Roosevelt Sykes
  • Fred McDowell
  • JB Hutto and the Hawks
  • Jimmy Dawkings
  • Junior Wells
  • BB King

August 3, Sunday afternoon

  • Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup
  • Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins
  • Roosevelt Sykes
  • Luther Allison & the Blue
  • Nebulae
  • Big Joe Williams
  • Magic Sam
  • Big Mama Thornton
  • Freddy King

August 2, Saturday night

  • Sleepy John Estes
  • Luther Allison
  • Clifton Chenier
  • Otis Rush
  • Howlin’ Wolf
  • Muddy Waters

August 3, Sunday night

  • Sam Lay
  • T-Bone Walker
  • Son House
  • Charlie Musselwhite w Freddy Roulette
  • Lightnin’ Hopkins
  • James Cotton

 

Unlike the half-million who camped in Bethel, NY, the Ann Arbor Blues Festival had about 20,000, but 20,000 very enthusiastic listeners. Dan Morgenstern wrote in Downbeat that “the performers – especially the veterans – were treated with respect that bordered on reverence. It added up to a kind of recognition that blues artists have seldom, if ever, received from their own people.

In October, after Woodstock, Morgenstern was clear.  The Ann Arbor Festival was “without doubt the festival of the year, if not the decade.”

Stanley Livingston, a professional photographer from Ann Arbor, captured the performers both on- and off-stage. He and Michael Erlewine later published many of his photos in  Blues in Black and White

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Ann Arbor 2

In 1970 a second blues festival was held, but success led to disruption and disruption led to financial loss.  Also, the Goose Lake festival held the same time had a big-name line up that pulled possible guests away from Ann Arbor.

The festival went away for two years, returned in 1972 to a three-year run, and then went away again.

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Renewal

In 2016, James Partridge realized that in three years it would be the original festival’s 50th anniversary.  In 2017 he organized a new Ann Arbor Blues Festival.

Today,  Partridge, the Festival’s executive producer, says, “I want everybody to know what Ann Arbor has contributed to music and recognize that the Ann Arbor Blues Festivals, they changed music. They changed history. Had it not been for those original festivals, a lot of the music we listen to today might not have been made.”

The 2018 festival will be on August 17 and 18 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Fairgrounds

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival
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