The remarkable on-off saga of a festival to celebrate Woodstock’s 50th anniversary, conceived by the original event’s founder Michael Lang, is finally off.
The real trouble began when Dentsu Aegis Network, a division of Japanese company Dentsu, pulled out its investment because it felt the event could not be produced, “while also ensuring the health and safety of the artistes, partners and attendees”.
Dentsu apparently had a clause in its contract that gave it the option to cancel the festival, which it attempted to do.
Over the past few months, artistes such as Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, John Sebastian, Santana and Country Joe McDonald were announced and then began to pull-out, the site moved a couple of times, it morphed into a not-for-profit benefit event to combat global warming, and finally fell apart.
“We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked, and the social engagement we were anticipating,” says Lang.
“When we lost the [Watkins] Glen and then Vernon Downs [sites], we looked for a way to do some good rather than just cancel,” he explains. “We formed a collaboration with HeadCount to do a smaller event at the Merriweather Pavilion [in Washington, DC] to raise funds for them to get out the vote and for certain NGOs involved in fighting climate change. We released all the talent so any involvement on their part would be voluntary.”
Woodstock’s golden anniversary will be celebrated at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (cap. 15,000) on the site of the original festival in 1969, in Bethel, New York state, from 16-18 August, featuring Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, Santana with The Doobie Brothers, and John Fogerty with Tedeschi Trucks and Grace Potter.