Posts Tagged ‘Woodstock Festival.’

Jimi Hendrix At Woodstock

Today would have been the 78th birthday of the great Jimi Hendrix. Born James Marshall Hendrix on November 27th, 1942, the guitar god rose to fame for his insane guitar playing abilities during the British blues revival period of the mid-1960s. Hendrix was a powerhouse musical entity, commanding attention with his unique style like never before. He redefined the instrument, and what it meant to perform with it.

Though Hendrix only lived until the age of 27, his influence on music has been enormous ever since. His work with the Jimi Hendrix Experience was second to none, and perhaps no performance captures the essence of his abilities better than his apperance at Woodstock. Though it may not have been his best show of all time, Jimi Hendrix took the stage at 9AM on August 18th, 1969, launching into otherworldly versions of well known jams like “Fire,” “Izabella” and the famed “Star Spangled Banner.”

Few performances in the history of rock ‘n’ roll are more iconic than when Jimi Hendrix cemented his legendary status and delivered the show of his career on the biggest stage of them all, a moment when the mercurial artist headlined the inaugural Woodstock Festival in 1969.

The whole weekend was a watershed moment for music, but one specific part was the most poignant of all. As the subversive edge of America’s youth descended upon a small town, with fear of crime and panic sweeping the outer limits, Hendrix paid tribute to his country. One of the most enigmatic performances of the weekend came when Hendrix rolled out an unexpected, distorted rendition of the US national anthem. The performance was considered as an offensive moment and it sent a ripple through America and when he appeared on the Dick Cavett show some months after his headline show — he had to answer why he made this statement on such a grand stage.

Hendrix cunningly decided to use the music’s own bombastic nature to project the violence carried out under his nation’s flag. He managed to do this by holding a keynote longer than he usually would and also applied a little more pressure to his Stratocaster’s tremolo bar which then created an unsettling effect. With a guitar in his hands, he was more effective than his words could ever be. He then stopped playing the song in its original form and just turned the lyrics about bombs bursting in air and rockets lighting up the night into music.

This was Hendrix’s way of kicking back at the idea of military power being the only thing that is great about America and, through the use of just his instrument, he managed to evoke the opposite feeling of what the anthem was intended to cause and is one of the great political statements in the music history.

“I don’t know, man,” Hendrix said on his decision to play the track before adding, “I’m an American, so I played it. They made me sing it in school, so it was a flashback.” Cavett then pointed out that Hendrix is likely to find himself on the receiving end of a barrage of hate mail because of his decision to cover the national anthem in an unorthodox manner, to which Hendrix proudly stated, “It’s not unorthodox, I thought it was beautiful.” Cavett would later reflect on the interview years later and said that he should have supported Hendrix’s version rather than opening him up for criticism: “I suppose I could have added that since we somehow acquired the most dismal, virtually unsingable dirge of a national anthem of any known nation, we should decorate Hendrix for turning it into music.”

The band was scheduled as the last performance of the festival, Sunday night. Due to several delays, they eventually played on Monday morning, 9:00 am, when most of the audience had already left.

Hendrix’s performance at Woodstock came at a major transition point in his life since the Jimi Hendrix Experience disbanded earlier that summer. He took to the stage with his newly formed band Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, a.k.a. a Band of Gypsys — consisting of Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell, bassist Billy Cox, guitarist Larry Lee and percussionists Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez.

The irony about the legendary performance is that few people actually saw it in person since so many fans had fled the upstate New York farm by that point. He went on late because he wanted to be the final act, not realizing that would mean playing on Monday morning to a virtually empty audience. The crowd had gone from “half a million strong” to a handful of diehard fans sitting in a giant ocean of garbage.

1. Hendrix performed with a temporary band. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with which he had recorded three smash albums and electrified crowds at the Monterey Pop Festival two summers before, had broken up. Hendrix assembled a group he called Gypsy Suns and Rainbows, which included two musicians he had played with at the start of his career on the Chitlin’ Circuit in Nashville: bassist Billy Cox and guitarist Larry Lee. Neither had ever performed in front of a large crowd before. Drummer Mitch Mitchell, who was part of the Experience, and two percussionists rounded out the band, one of the largest Hendrix ever appeared with. The group performed just twice more before disbanding.

2. It was the only Hendrix band that included a second guitarist. Larry Lee backed up Hendrix on a number of songs, played some lead on Jam Back at the House, and contributed several lead choruses to the 12-bar blues Red House. He played some lead on both Voodoo Child (slight return) and Spanish Castle Magic and sang lead on two numbers. Lee’s solo guitar work accounts for much of the footage of the Hendrix Woodstock set that has never been made public. In fact, no recordings, audio or visual, have ever been officially released of Lee’s two featured numbers: Mastermind and a medley of Gypsy Woman and Aware of Love.

3. It was the only major performance that Hendrix gave in the morning. By 1969, Hendrix was a major star who had earned the traditional headliner’s position: playing last. Technical and weather delays caused the festival to stretch into Monday morning. The organizers had given Hendrix the opportunity to go on at midnight, but he opted to be the closer. One benefit of the delay: the morning light made for excellent filming conditions, which may be part of the reason this particular Hendrix performance is so well known.

4. Hendrix did not perform for half a million people. In fact, when he took to the stage at 9 a.m., the crowd, which once numbered 500,000, had dwindled to fewer than 200,000–perhaps considerably fewer. With the demands of work and school weighing on them, many of those fans waited just long enough to see Hendrix begin his set, and then departed themselves.

5. The Woodstock performance had the potential to be a disaster for Hendrix. Recordings made at the house in upstate New York where Hendrix and the Gypsy Suns and Rainbows rehearsed and of a performance they gave at the Tinker Street Cinema in Woodstock show that the band “simply could not play well together,” Brattin says. “After listening to those tapes, you would not have guessed that the Woodstock performance would be so good. The credit has to go to Jimi and the strength of his onstage presence.”

6. Woodstock was a time of transition for Hendrix. He had left behind one long-term band and not yet formed another. He was beginning a period of musical experimentation that was risky from a commercial perspective. While the Experience was dominated by white musicians (both his bandmates were white Englishmen), he was now appearing with more black performers (bassist Cox, guitarist Lee, and percussionist Juma Sultan were all African American). It is interesting, Brattin notes, that while so much of the Woodstock set pointed to Hendrix’s future, the performance also included songs that harked back to his beginnings. In particular, two of the songs Lee sang, Gypsy Woman and Aware of Love, were written or co-written by Curtis Mayfield, with whom Hendrix had performed within the early 1960s. It was the only Hendrix concert that included these songs.

7. The Star-Spangled Banner was not played on its own. It was part of a medley lasting over half an hour, one of the longest such medleys. The medley also included hits like Voodoo Child (slight return) and Purple Haze, and an unaccompanied improvisation lasting nearly five minutes. Hendrix performed the national anthem as a solo in the midst of this medley.

8. It was not the first time Hendrix had performed the Star Bangled Banner–by a long shot. In fact, there are nearly 50 live recordings of Hendrix playing the national anthem, 28 made before Woodstock. They range from about a minute to more than six minutes; the Woodstock version was three minutes and 46 seconds. It was among the best, Brattin says. “And, certainly, no other version is so iconic.”

9. Hendrix performed an encore, a rarity. He almost never performed encores, but at Woodstock, despite the vanishing crowd, he did. On recordings, he can be heard considering Valleys of Neptune, which he never performed publicly, before or after Woodstock. He opted, instead, for Hey Joe, his first hit song.

10. Hendrix was not supposed to close Woodstock. Steeped in childhood memories of the song, Woodstock organizer Michael Lang wanted Roy Rogers to come on after Hendrix and play Happy Trails. The cowboy crooner declined.

Setlist :0:01 (message to love) 7:38 (spanish castle magic) 14:29 (red house) 19:56 (lover man) 24:50 (foxey lady) 29:30 (jam back at the house) 37:28 (izabella) 42:48 (fire) 46:10 (voodoo child) 58:28 (star spangled banner) 01:02:11 (purple haze) 01:05:39 (woodstock improvisation/villanova junction blues) 01:13:15 (hey joe)

In honour of Jimi Hendrix’s 78th today, check out a full video from his Woodstock performance

On August 2nd, Craft Recordings will release the Official full hour-long concert by Creedence Clearwater Revival in a 50th year celebration of the appearance at the Woodstock Festival. The show delivered a classic run-through of eleven well-known CCR songs. This historic show will be delivered on vinyl 2LP package. The set will be called “Live At Woodstock”.

Woodstock has long been considered the classic Rock and Roll event by which ALL festivals pattern, govern, and aspire to. To date, none have superseded the event. Many bands refused to go and be a part of soon to be historic festival, but for those that did, they forever became a strong tie-in to Woodstock. One of those bands was Creedence Clearwater RevivalCCR were at a peak and this hour-long set helped to contribute to their growing fame. I’m sure no band ever regretted joining this ‘at the time’ unsure festival plagued with everything that could possibly go wrong.

This long sought-after release celebrates the 50th anniversary of Woodstock by giving fans a front-row seat to relive Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hour-long set as it was performed that historic night in August of 1969. Kicking off with “Born on the Bayou,” the album features the band’s biggest singles of the day including “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” and more. Full of creative energy, John, Tom, Stu, and Doug delve deep into their music, playing extended improvisations of “I Put a Spell on You,” “Keep on Chooglin’” and “Suzie Q.”

Taken from Creedence Clearwater Revival “Live At Woodstock”, available August 2 via Craft Recordings.

Fifty years ago this summer, more than 400,000 fans convened at Max Yasgur’s farm for a music festival that would come to define not only the era, but the entire ethos of music festivals to come. With every passing decade, the magic of Woodstock has been celebrated and, indeed, re-marketed to new generations of music fans. The ’90s saw two new Woodstock-branded festivals and an array of 25th anniversary products, including a compilation called Woodstock Diary and a 4-CD box set. To mark the festival’s 40th anniversary in 2009, yet another box was compiled, this time with six discs. Along the way, labels released standalone collections of individual artists’ performances and the festival became a brand unto itself. Here we are, half a century on, and Rhino has released a new, chronologically sequenced 10-CD collection called Woodstock – Back To the Garden: The 50th Anniversary Experience. When news broke of yet another collection, the usual questions arose: “How much Woodstock is too much Woodstock?” “What could this box bring that the others didn’t?” Well, the answer is simple.

With better technology, new research, and a team of curators and audio wizards dedicated to presenting the festival as it was, Back To the Garden is the most comprehensive view yet of the iconic festival. Previous anniversary collections had left out artists entirely (in many cases due to a tangled web of rights restrictions), effectively erasing them from public perception of the festival. That issue is rectified here, as every artist who took the stage that weekend is present somewhere on the 10-CD, 162-track, 13-hour-long set. (And for those with deeper pockets, the entire weekend will be released on the mammoth 38-CD/1-Blu-ray “Definitive Archive” version on August 9th.) Compilation producers Andy Zax and Steve Woolard and their team of audio specialists have also made wise sonic decisions that remain more faithful to what’s really on the tapes than any Woodstock collection has before. In short, Back To the Garden brings listeners closer than ever before to being there at Yasgur’s Farm – minus the mud, the tent, and the traffic!

See, despite all the Woodstock-branded releases we’ve seen in the past fifty years, the general perception of the event is mostly based on the mythology that followed the concerts, shaped by the editing choices of director Michael Wadleigh’s documentary film crew and the often head-scratching audio decisions made for the original Woodstock soundtracks and other tie-in albums (to say nothing of the erroneous accounts that performers would tell in interviews for decades to come). While some box sets have attempted to set the record straight, a number of issues have remained, until now.

The original Woodstock soundtracks on Cotillion – Woodstock in 1970 and Woodstock Two in 1971 – sold in droves. Each sought to rekindle the feeling of being at the event, but tape research issues, faulty recording practices, and questionable curatorial decisions meant that the collections weren’t all they were cracked up to be. Fake applause was flown in, tracks were edited and overdubbed, and the compilers even used recordings that weren’t from Woodstock! Ravi Shankar also released what was purported to be a live album from the festival but – that’s right – they were all studio recordings dubbed over with canned applause and sold to an unsuspecting public.

As Woodstock’s anniversaries were celebrated over the years, and historians and compilation producers sought to present a more accurate view of the historic weekend, listeners have been treated to better collections. But the four-disc, 25th anniversary box set still relied heavily on Frankenstein’d creations, overdubbed additions, and non-Woodstock performances. The 6-CD, 40th anniversary collection from 2009 presented a more faithful overview of the three days and set the record straight with regard to who performed what and when, but some issues remained. Licensing frustrations meant that producer Andy Zax’s original vision for the set – to release every recording from the entire weekend – wasn’t to be. Some artists weren’t represented at all, despite the existence of their Woodstock recordings. The new Back To the Garden: The 50th Anniversary Experience adds some 7 hours more material than was present on the 40th anniversary set, and all the tracks sound better than ever before.

The commitment to authenticity is what has guided the team’s every move for each iteration of the Back To the Garden 50th anniversary sets. For example, the instrument placement in Brian Kehew’s new stereo mixes is based off extensive photo research that determined where members were situated onstage. The music is largely sourced from the existing multitrack masters, and the team has chosen to restore previously edited performances to their original, full-length glory.

The compilers also elected to leave in several fascinating stage announcements from John Morris and Chip Monck, as well as a lesser-known political speech from Abbie Hoffman before the famous Pete Townshend confrontation, plus banter, audience reactions, and other cinema verité elements caught by the all-important audience microphone. Check out the rain sequence at the end of Joe Cocker’s set. The beautifully constructed four-minute piece drops the listener right into the audience as a rainstorm engulfs the crowd. Between the sounds of the wind and rain, we hear panicked pleas from the MCs, audience members urging people off the teetering towers, Barry Melton keeping folks optimistic with the “No Rain” chant, stagehands covering equipment and cutting the power, and finally, the sound of a particularly squeaky-voiced spectator hollering out: “Hey, Joe Cocker! Isn’t the rain beautiful? Joe?!”

As a result of all the realism, listeners who are used to older, doctored-up Woodstock collections may wonder what happened to that extra reverb, the flown-in applause, the beefed-up “Fish Cheer,” or any number of studio effects that marred the presentation of the legendary recordings. The team’s resolve to strip away those unnecessary excesses – while keeping the occasional feedback and hums that really happened – has paid off, making Back To the Garden an indispensable and significant collection.

In some cases, the team had to utilize existing mixes. Melanie’s four songs are sourced from a mono soundboard tape, Richie Havens’ and Mountain’s sets come from vintage mixes, and the Jimi Hendrix material was prepared by Eddie Kramer for Experience Hendrix. Despite this handful of disparate sources, the sonic identity of Back To the Garden remains consistent throughout all 10 CDs. The set has been impeccably mastered by Dave Schulz, who chose to – you guessed it – remain faithful to the sound of the reels by avoiding peak limiting and only using compression when absolutely necessary. According to a post from Zax on a popular music forum, the team’s approach to mixing and mastering was “reparative and restorative when necessary, and try-to-leave-it-the-hell-alone the rest of the time.” For the first time, the goal has been to let the music of Woodstock speak for itself, and the results are revelatory – especially when it comes to those legendary performances that are forever a part of Woodstock’s mythology.

“Hello! Can you hear?” So asks Richie Havens before launching into his now-iconic opening set that brought him to the mainstream. Havens treated the audience to a medley of Jerry Merrick’s “From the Prison” and the peace-and-love anthem “Get Together,” alongside hits and improvisations. With increased fidelity and an engaging stereo mix, listeners can indeed hear all nuances of his performance. Even the most familiar songs, like “Handsome Johnny” and “Freedom,” remain fresh here.

But even more enjoyable are the tracks from lesser-known acts, like the energetic pop-rock sound of Sweetwater, the anti-establishment zaniness of Quill, and the folksy Bert Sommer. Sweetwater followed Richie Havens with a set of folk-rock that’s been largely forgotten to time. In fact, the first time they were included on a Woodstock collection was in 2009. The two cuts from that box set – energetic folk-rockers “Look Out” and “Two Worlds” – are repeated here, and supplemented with a brief and delicate, “Ruby Tuesday”-like slice of baroque pop called “Day Song.” Together, they show the range of a group that was long written out of the Woodstock mythology. In the same vein comes Sommer, whose lilting opener “Jennifer” and breathtaking, previously unreleased rendition of Paul Simon’s “America” are two gems from the collection.

Fantastic performances are at a surplus here, but some of the most noteworthy are Arlo Guthrie’s “Coming Into Los Angeles”; Mountain’s “Theme for an Imaginary Western”; and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s “Wooden Ships” and “Sea of Madness.” These tracks appeared on the original soundtrack albums, but the performances were not from Woodstock. Arlo’s iconic scene in the film incorporated audio from a performance at the Troubadour in L.A. from four months after the festival, while the CSNY came from the Fillmore East in September 1969 and Mountain from an unknown show. On the actual multi-track tape of Woodstock, Guthrie’s vocal mic feed is absent until the second verse. To remedy this, Kehew and company blended the mono PA mix with the stereo multi-tracks, yielding a convincing result that’s still 100% Woodstock.

Along similar lines, Ten Years After’s performance was subjected to technical issues so their powerful “I’m Going Home” received drum overdubs from Larry Bunker (not Corky Laing, as is often reported) to beef up Ric Lee’s performance for the soundtrack. Back To the Garden presents the track overdub-free, and it’s still just as incendiary.

Indeed, the most famous Woodstock performances – Sly and the Family Stone’s medley, CSN’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” and The Who’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It/See Me, Feel Me” medley among them – are present here in their definitive versions. But it’s the wealth of previously unreleased material that makes this set a must. For fans of folk, there’s Richie Havens laid-back, half-hummed “With a Little Help From My Friends,” Tim Hardin’s impassioned, jazz-inflected “Misty Roses” and “Reason To Believe,” Country Joe’s ode to a lovely lady called “Janis,” Joan Baez’s country-rock interpretations of “Last Thing on My Mind” and “I Shall Be Released,” and The Incredible String Band’s non-album track, “Gather ‘Round.” Horn rock mavens will savor the selections here from Blood, Sweat & Tears’ set, including the hits “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” and “Spinning Wheel,” both sounding better than ever thanks to advancement in polyphonic tuning technology.

Previously unheard highlights include Grateful Dead’s take on Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” Canned Heat’s slow-building, 11-minute jam on “On the Road Again,” The Who’s rollicking versions of “I Can’t Explain” and “Shakin’ All Over,” alongside a lengthy set-closing jam on “My Generation” that teases their not-yet-completed “Naked Eye.” Keef Hartley Band delivers the jazz-rock epic “Half-Breed Medley,” while The Band is represented by four unheard tracks: “Chest Fever,” “Tears of Rage,” “This Wheel’s On Fire,” and “I Shall Be Released.” In all, there are 35 tracks making their CD debut on Back To the Garden. Each offers a new glimpse into an event that we thought we knew.

Accompanying all the music is a beautiful hardbound book designed by Masaki Koike that houses the discs and liner notes. It’s illustrated with rare photos from official festival photographer Henry Diltz, memoribilia, press clippings, and tape box images. Inside, compilation producer Andy Zax details his mission for the set and the efforts that the team made to deliver such an all-encompassing set. Jesse Jarnow also contributes an essay detailing how the festival unfolded, placing the reader at the festival as expertly as Zax and Co. do with the music. It’s all wrapped together with a burlap strap, a key design component that’s meant to fray over time, evoking that mission to “Get ourselves back to the garden.”

Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, a 3-LP set on half blue/half hot pink vinyl, along with its follow-up, “Woodstock Two”  on two LPs on half orange/half mint green vinyl.  On the same day, Rhino Records will release two brand-new collections of material previously unavailable on vinyl.  “Woodstock Three” (3-LP, 180-gram black vinyl) and “Woodstock Four” (2-LP, 180-gram black vinyl) showcase material that will be released on CD in the Back To The Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive box set.  As previously announced, Vinyl Me Please will be releasing a 10-LP bundle box set featuring all four Woodstock soundtrack collections on their own exclusive color vinyl variants

WOODSTOCK THREE and WOODSTOCK FOUR both feature performances by artists who didn’t appear on the original soundtracks (Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Sweetwater, Blood Sweat & Tears), as well as additional recordings from artists featured on the original soundtracks (Canned Heat, Melanie, Arlo Guthrie and John Sebastian).

Between August 15th-18th, 1969, more than 400,000 people converged on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in upstate New York for Woodstock. 32 turns performed over the weekend including Joan Baez, The Band, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, and The Who.

On the heels of their announcement of the expansive Woodstock 50 campaign, Rhino has announced a new series celebrating The Summer of ’69: Peace, Love, and Music.  Beginning on July 9th, the campaign will feature a three-week-long roll-out of limited-edition vinyl releases of classic recordings from the Woodstock era by the likes of Van Morrison; The Monkees; Grateful Dead; Crosby, Stills & Nash; and many more.


Woodstock – Music From The Original Soundtrack And More (3-LP, half blue/half hot pink vinyl)
Woodstock Two (2-LP, half orange/half mint green vinyl)
Woodstock Three (3-LP, 180-gram Black Vinyl)
Woodstock Four (2-LP, 180-gram Black Vinyl)