399px-Original_woodstock_poster.jpgBy Nina Satterwhite
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Woodstock

Woodstock Music & Art Fair AKA Woodstock or The Woodstock Festival was a music festival, billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music". It was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, New York, from August 15 to August 18, 1969. Bethel, in Sullivan County, is 43 miles southwest of the town of Woodstock, New York, in adjoining Ulster County. During the sometimes rainy weekend, thirty-two acts performed outdoors in front of 500,000 concert-goers. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most pivotal moments in popular music history and was listed among Rolling Stone's 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll. The event was captured in the successful 1970 documentary movie Woodstock, an accompanying soundtrack album, and Joni Mitchell's song "Woodstock" which commemorated the event and became a major hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Woodstock was initiated through the efforts of Michael Lang, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, and Artie Kornfeld. It was Roberts and Rosenman who had the finances. Lang had experience as a promoter and had already organized the largest festival on the East Coast at the time, the Miami Pop Festival, which had an estimated 100,000 people attend the two day event. They placed the following advertisement in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal under the name of Challenge International, Ltd.: "Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions".

Lang and Kornfeld noticed the ad, and the four men got together originally to discuss a retreat-like recording studio in Woodstock, but the idea evolved into an outdoor music and arts festival, although even that was initially envisioned on a smaller scale, perhaps featuring some of the big name artists who lived in the Woodstock area (such as Bob Dylan and The Band). There were differences in approach among the four: Roberts was disciplined, and knew what was needed in order for the venture to succeed, while the laid-back Lang saw Woodstock as a new, relaxed way of bringing business people together. There were further doubts over the venture, as Roberts wondered whether to consolidate his losses and pull the plug, or to continue pumping his own finances into the project.

In April 1969, newly-minted superstars Creedence Clearwater Revival were the first act to sign a contract for the event, agreeing to play for $10,000. The promoters had experienced difficulty landing big-name groups prior to the Bay Area swamp rockers committing to play. Creedence drummer Doug Clifford later commented "Once Creedence signed, everyone else jumped in line and all the other big acts came on." Given their 3:00 a.m. start time and non-inclusion in the Woodstock film, Creedence members have expressed bitterness over their experiences at the famed festival.

Woodstock was designed as a profit-making venture, aptly titled "Woodstock Ventures". It famously became a "free concert" only after it became obvious that the event was drawing hundreds of thousands more people than the organizers had prepared for. Tickets for the event cost US$18 in advance (equivalent to approx. US$105 in 2009 after adjusting for purchasing power, and US$75 after adjusting for inflation and $24 at the gate for all three days. Ticket sales were limited to record stores in the greater New York City area, or by mail via a post office box at the Radio City Station Post Office located in Midtown Manhattan. Around 186,000 tickets were sold beforehand and organizers anticipated approximately 200,000 festival-goers would turn up.

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The people that performed at Woodstock on Friday, August 15 was Richie Havens, Swami Salchidananda, Sweetwater, Bert Sommer, Ravi Shankar, Tim Hardin, Melanie, Arvo Guthrie, and Joan Baez.

Some people that performed on Saturday, August 16 was Quill, Country Joe McDonald, John Sebastian, Santana, and Keef Hartley Band.

Woodstock turned out to be a musically changing decision for some artists and the music industry itself. Some music historians believe it had started a revolution to help change the music people listen to.


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"File:Blankets.jpg." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blankets.jpg>.
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File:Woodstock Poster.jpg." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Woodstock_poster.jpg>.
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