Woodstock at 40: Tampa Bay music fans look back
On an August weekend in 1969, the haphazardly organized but wildly successful Woodstock festival drew hundreds of thousands to a patch of farmland near the upstate New York town of Bethel. With it came career-defining performances and a romanticized spirit of peace, love and freedom.
This weekend (Aug. 15-18) marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. And there are plenty of ways you can celebrate.
We've told you all about Saturday's sold-out WMNF-88.5 Woodstock celebration concert, featuring more than 20 bands recreating songs from the original show. (In case you missed it, here are our profiles of the Ditchflowers (performing as Crosby Stills Nash and Young), Acho Brother (Richie Havens), Thomas Wynn and the Believers (The Band), Liz Hollister (Joan Baez) and Soul2Earth (Jimi Hendrix).
But it's not the only Woodstock celebration taking place this month. Some other highlights:
-- Woodstock at the Beach Theatre: At 7 p.m. Friday, the Beach Theatre will present the director’s cut of Woodstock as a benefit for WMNF-88.5. Tickets are $8. 315 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach; (727) 360-6697, beachtheatre.com.
-- Woodstock: 40 Years on: Back to Yasgur’s Farm: This 77-song, six-CD set from Rhino Records releases Aug. 18.
-- Taking Woodstock: Oscar-winning director Ang Lee’s new movie, which stars comic Demetri Martin and tells the true story of the Bethel, N.Y. family who saved the music festival, hits theaters Aug. 28.
-- Burk Uzzle’s Woodstock and Other Americana: The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa is hosting a Woodstock exhibit from Sept. 17 to Nov. 7, and they want your memorabilia to be in it. Any photo or object with ties to Woodstock may be submitted for inclusion. For details, see fmopa.org.
Finally, in case you missed it, be sure to check out Colette Bancroft's excellent story catching up to some local music fans who were actually at Woodstock. All of them have some truly unique stories. But our favorite has to be this one from Thomas Ellwanger, a 60-year-old retired estate planning lawyer from Tampa, who shared this:
"On the way in, my friend purchased some drugs, some kind of acid, and immediately took it, to get in the spirit of things. As a result, I was kind of his keeper for the rest of the weekend. We set up our tent on the second hillside, and at the bottom of the hill there was this psychedelic, multicolored school bus that was the headquarters of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. We could spot Kesey, he was a big man. They wound up helping a lot of people who had not enough food or too many drugs. Everybody was sharing. Everybody was nice. I never saw that many freaks in one place."
Do yourself a favor, and read the whole story.