Sixteen year old me was sitting in front of our little square television with Dad and brother, watching in awe as bands performed live on stage at Woodstock ’99. I had recently found that I liked rock music, with Korn and Limp Bizkit leading the way, and Godsmack and Kid Rock. . . And I wanted very badly to be in that crowd. It was a hard no from dad when I asked because, “I was just two years younger than you when I went to ’69. All I remember is Hendrix and the star spangled banner. I was stoned the entire time. Absolutely not.” So I sat in front of the TV watching in our trailer that hot July day, hoping to one day have the opportunity.
I grew up raised by hippies, then in their 40s, reminiscing about the days of peace, love and music. I grew up listening to the music of their generation, grew up with music as a second language, grew up listening to my dad playing Hendrix and Skynyrd and Zeppelin on his guitar into the early morning hours, or playing it on his stereo. I had developed a genuine interest in the counter culture and researched everything I could find, wanting to someday move to San Francisco so I could be near Haight- Ashbury, so I could visit Lombard Street and see the painted ladies for myself. . .
I wore bandanas and peace signs and beads, curly, frizzy hair long, bell bottoms when I could get my hands on them. This went on until I was damn near 20 and then I found myself pregnant and poor, and my spirit just a little broken by life’s circumstances.
Fast forward to 2019, with the announcement that Woodstock 50 was going to take place. I’m still a jeans and band t-shirts kind of person, I have a peace sign tattoo and one of a guitar, preferring sandals to real shoes and bare-feet even better. I still believe in peace, love and music, but I’ve added just a little go fuck yourself to the mix just because sometimes life requires it.
From the first rumors in the late fall of 2018, I vowed I was going, hell or high water. As soon as the dates were officially announced I began following all things Woodstock so I could keep tabs on developments. I pulled up different route maps to get there, information on the venue, joined a Facebook group. And waited while the first date passed when the lineup would be announced, with no announcement. . . read rumors with dread that it wasn’t going to pan out and end up cancelled, prayed rumors that tickets would be near $1000 were false. I talked with Matthew about it, who expressed an interest in going. Dad was 14 at the original Woodstock. In August 2019 when Woodstock 50 would have occurred, Matthew, his oldest grandson, would be 14. I didn’t commit one way or another, wanting to weigh the coincidence and common sense thoroughly before deciding.
Finally, the line up was released.
And I was completely and utterly disappointed.
Out of the 50+ performers announced, I wanted to see 10. Ten. A few newer artists were decent, but truthfully I was more interested in the legacy artists set to perform. Plant and Santana and Dead and Co. I’m sure the lineup appealed to many, but my roots are in rock, and there was a lot more pop than rock in the lineup.
I decided I wasn’t going. I couldn’t justify hundreds of dollars and a drive to New York State and take multiple days off work for ten bands that I likely will be able to see in my general area on the map at some point in my life. Maybe not all, but a good portion of them. Without sweating my ass off in a crowd of 100,000 people in the middle of August. Besides, I was already going to a festival that year, Inkcarceration Festival was scheduled for July with 30 bands and over half I wanted to see. So, the decision was made.
But as excitement mounted for Woodstock, my decision was waivering just a bit.
“I turned down tickets to ’94 and regret it.”
“Despite the mess that ’99 was I have amazing memories.”
. . .
And then ticket sales got postponed. Price is a big factor in my decision. You can’t put a price on memories and experiences. . . But my bank account begs to differ.
Woodstock 50 ended up full of scandle and rumors about lack of funding and proper permits, and was cancelled indefinitely. There was talk of them trying again this year, but with the pandemic that obviously isn’t going to happen, and especially with most major music festivals having been cancelled.
I thoroughly enjoyed Inkcarceration, I definitely loved the vibe the festival had. Everyone took care of each other and was kind. I’m curious how Woodstock 50 would have gone – would it have ended up on fire like ’99 did? Or would it have had the same peace and love vibe that ’69 did? Our world is in turmoil right now. There’s a shift happening I think that is figuratively tipping the world on its side, and all of humanity with it. In ’69 the same was happening. Would it have been a retreat from the crazy in the world today? I think it would have been.
This world is a scary place right now, but I think the shift is necessary. We need a wake up call – the whole of the human race, and as individuals. And I don’t think a huge music festival would hurt any of us.
Sixteen years old me had huge dreams and aspirations. And I’m not where I thought I would be. But I still have peace, love, and music in my soul. I don’t run around with bell bottoms and peace signs, I embrace a lot of harder, darker rock music. . . but I think that hippie spirit is still there. The term hippie has an image, but I think it’s more a personality. I think it’s more a mindset. Let people live their lives, be kind, don’t judge, and embrace doing what your soul needs to thrive. Live and let live. I’m there. I’m more there than I was at sixteen – I embraced the image more than I did the mindset. Now I’m all about mindset.
Someday I’ll make it to San Francisco. And I’ll definitely be going to more music festivals. For now I’ll just stick to my peace, love and music mindset, and pray the world straightens itself out before it’s too late.