Woodstock is a town in Ulster County, New York, United States. The town got its name from the famous 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival:
It has earned a reputation as home to one of the most exciting periods of American popular music. The festivals were actually held elsewhere, but many of the creative people who made them what they were had been part of the charmed life of Woodstock, and some still reside here among our wooded hills. (Wood Stock 1)
Out of the festival, the world of Rock and Roll Music has grown and with every festival of the kind that has been held, many talents have been discovered, and the industry has continued growing. In this paper, we will explore on Woodstock Music and Art festival, the challenges that were faced, and the impact of the festival to the music industry.
The festival happened in Bethel, in a farm that belonged to a dairy farmer Max Yasgur. Though this was not the original venue, the festival had to be held there as the only available venue after the original venue was denied a few weeks before the event. Out of the outcomes of the festival, the event served as the revolution point in the popular music history. The idea came from four young men who advertised themselves as having unlimited capital with an idea to fostering peace and music.
During the festival, a big number of people turned up that lead to roads getting jammed up; many roads were inaccessible to the point that supplies could not get to the venue. Performers being an important part of the festival had to look for other ways to get to the venue apart from using the roads. In regard to this White record that Yasgur farm place was so packed with attendees to the extent that performers had to be ferried by helicopters.
It was a rainy weekend; it could have been fair to expect fewer people to attend, but that was not the case since the concert goers seemed not to mind the cold and the muddy situation, if anything, the situation created an opportunity for the people to bond regardless of the region they came from. White in the Woodstock Journal for August 15, 1969 recorded that food was a rare commodity since the service providers were fewer than the number available to feed.
To deal with the lack, attendees had to do with the little they had brought with them and also share with others who had nothing. This created an environment of love and concern for each other as the concert goers shared in the same situation. This was very important, particularly since the world had just come from civil war that had created major divisions among people.
As it is expected, when the number in attendance exceeds the number planned for, there are always problems in meeting all the demands and so Woodstock was not an exception. Some basic amenities, medical care, correct sanitation for the number that kept on increasing every hour were a great challenge to get.
White in his record of the second day reported that a medical tent had to be set up to treat bare feet cut by broken glass and metal can lids that littered the site, bad acid trips, and retinas burned when their stoned owners lied down and stared directly at the sun (White 1).
Despite the many challenges that were faced by the promoters and the festival attendees, ranging from the weather, drugs and alcohol abuse by the youths, electricity failure, and poor sanitation, there was much joy, humility and integrity that came from the energetic youth (Makower, Lang and Joel 2). The event was marked as the most enduring event of the century and out of it, so many other events have come up including anniversaries of the same.
Initial challenges during the planning period were to get the venue. The festival was legally barred from its planned location just a month before its scheduled date; this led to the promoters relocating immediately and looking for another venue since there was little or no time left for planning (Makower, Lang and Joel 1).
After getting the venue, the next challenge was getting the artists whom the promoters wanted. It was not easy since the managers insisted on booking their unknown artists as the price to get their famous clients (Fusilli 1).
Due to planning in haste, the promoter’s plan to charging the event was paralyzed by the lack of fence and a gate (Makower, Lang and Joel 1). This was discovered to be impossible to fix when the promoters got themselves in the dilemma of either fencing or putting up the stage. With the little finances they had left, the stage was given priority out of the advice they got from the people who arrived early. This made the place accessible to everybody who was willing to attend at no cost at all.
Satisfying the needs of the many people that turned out was a challenge in itself. According to White, the organizers had to make major adjustments to stop the vices that were going on like drug abuse, excessive drinking and the crowd getting unruly by extending the time of performance and adjusting the starting time of the performance (Makower, Lang and Joel 1).
The weather posed a major challenge for both the promoters and the audience. The disruptions by the heavy rains caused technical problems in electricity supply, and flooding were ankle-deep (White 1). Sound equipments had technical issues that could not be handled by the available engineers. Fusilli in the Wall Street Journal recorded that amplifiers buzzed, guitar cables crackled and microphones cut out. This posed the biggest challenge since the show had to be kept going.
Impact it Made
Out of the Woodstock Music and Art fair, many organizations have been founded based on the legacy the city made on preservation and peace keeping. An example is Sustainable Woodstock that was established in 2009 that works towards having a vibrant, inclusive, thriving community where people live sustainably now and in the future (Sustainable Woodstock 1).
The festival led to the evolution of live music and its business over the period and beyond has built the music industry as far as rock music is concerned. It led to the change of perception that many people had on rock music as boring and old school but presented it as a thing of the present and the future (Bennett 1).
Dave Allen is mentioned in Bennett’s book as considering “the significance of the Woodstock in terms of its illustration of a transitional stage between the more politically oriented folk-influenced acoustic music of the first part of the 1960s and the heavily amplified commercially-oriented rock of the second part of the decade” (Bennett 1).
The Woodstock city got its status from being a hub of farming, quarrying and tanning to a productive and business-oriented town. Today, Woodstock is home to galleries that are widely noted for exhibits of the finest arts and crafts. There are important recital halls upon whose stages distinguish classical, jazz and popular music ensembles regularly performance (Wood Stock 1).
Even though the event was faced by so many challenges, it led to the change of the name for the town which was once known to be small and made up of farmers only. Just by one event that seemed impossible from the beginning, the town got an opportunity to grow economically and opened up to other things like trade and arts that were never there before. The event marked a turning point in the world of music since many started perceiving rock music as the thing of the present.
To them that are not sure of the impact that music could have on a place, Woodstock festival was an awakening time since many talents got developed, upcoming musicians who were not refined by then got an opportunity to present themselves, and many embraced music and live performance.
The event also served as a platform for peace since the world had just come from a civil war. As multitudes of people interacted and shared in the same problems of lack of food, water, heavy rains and poor sanitation, they helped one another out, which established peace.
Bennett, Andy. Remembering Woodstock. New York, NY: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2004. Print.
Fusilli, Jim. “But How Was the Music.” The Wall Street Journal, 2009. Web. 1st Dec. 2011.
Makower, Joel, Lang Michael, and Rosenman Joel. Woodstock: the oral history. New York, NY: State University of New York Press, 2009. Print.
Sustainable Woodstock. “Sustainable Woodstock.” Sustainable Woodstock, 2011. Web. 1st Dec. 2011.
White, Dave. “Woodstock Journal” Classic Rock Almanacs, 2009. Web. 1st Dec. 2011.
Wood Stock. “Town of Woodstock: Home.” Wood Stock, 2011. Web. 1st Dec. 2011.