Thursday, August 15, 2019

Woodstock - Day 1 - LIVE!

Through the magic of radio, I am able to spend three days at Woodstock, circa 1969. You can hear our broadcasts on the Daybreak USA and iHeartRadio websites. AM thought you, our loyal readers, would be excited about the live coverage, and so, here are the transcripts are from Day 1 at the Aquarian Exposition:

R.J. Stowell - Dateline August 15, 1969 - I hope you can here me. I'm here on Happy Avenue, not making that up, just outside the town of Bethel Woods, New York. We parked the AM Econoline van about a half-mile down the road in a motor lodge parking lot and as you can probably hear, traffic is backing up, no one is getting through. Festival attendees are essentially leaving their cars in the middle of the road. It looks almost like something from a sci-fi horror flick.

There are hundreds of people walking alongside me through the abandoned vehicles. These are the flower children you've read about in the papers. Next to me is a young girl in overalls, a daisy-chain in her hair. She's not wearing any shoes. The young man she's with is far more conservative in his dress in tan chinos and a paisley shirt. There are families with children. There are a boy and girl who could be Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. It's quite the spectacle…

...Sorry, we lost our audio there for a moment. I'm passing some houses now, what you'd expect in a country town. "Hey, how are you. How's business?"

"It's good." A teenaged girl is selling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

"How much are they?"

"A quarter."

"How many did you make?"

"'Bout a hundred."

...Sorry about that. I can see the venue down the hill. An estimated 25,000 or so are expected but there has to be more like a hundred thousand up ahead of me, maybe more. It's the largest swell of humanity that I've ever seen. It looks like an old patchwork quilt, or like a shantytown of makeshift campsites. The festival was set to begin with Sweetwater, but traffic has delayed them. If the bands aren't already here, they're not making it through. Ritchie Havens is scheduled to go on in their place. I'm hearing something over the PA, some kind of announcement. And now there's music; maybe you can hear it, Ritchie Havens' distinctive guitar patter and his raspy, truly soulful voice. 

Scheduled today and into the evening are Ravi Shankar, Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez, who isn't scheduled till 9pm.

...Okay. I'm entering the festival grounds now. You can hear the music in the background. Let me describe this as best I can; I've never seen a spectacle like this, almost like a medieval fair. There's a line of booths selling jewelry and handmade goods, incense and patchouli oil. Someone tells me they're calling it the Bindy Bazaar, and here, this is different, a crude medical facility that looks like something out of a MASH unit, but it's a drug treatment facility for those who may be having a negative LSD experience. While they seem to have their bases covered, I'm not really seeing anything to speak of in regard to sanitation facilities. From here, I'm now estimating well over 200,000, I could be wrong, still, I've seen only about a dozen Johnny on the Spots.

The weather is deteriorating, by the way. I'm feeling a bit of a drizzle, but we're under complete cloud cover now. Yes, it's raining. What you're hearing in the background may certainly be recognizable; that’s Ravi Shankar, the Indian instrumentalist who taught George Harrison to play the sitar on Norwegian Wood.

Well, folks, I am going to meander my way a bit closer and enjoy the opening night festivities. I hope to be back with you tomorrow which promises Country Joe, Santana, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who and The Jefferson Airplane. Reporting live from Woodstock, I’m R.J. Stowell.

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