Fifty years ago on a dairy farm in the Catskill Mountains, more than 400,000 people gathered for what would become one of the most important events in music history. The Woodstock Music & Art Fair was billed as “3 Days of Peace and Music,” but ended up spilling into the 4th day. Thirty-two of the most famous artists of the time, including Janis Joplin, The Who, and, most famously, Jimi Hendrix, performed to a massive crowd. This festival changed the dynamic of rock music, and almost singlehandedly launched the counterculture movement into the mainstream. Now, in 2019, Woodstock’s golden anniversary is being celebrated in a huge way.
Michael Lang, producer and co-founder of the original Woodstock festival, announced in an interview with Rolling Stone that they will be throwing a 50th-anniversary festival, Woodstock 50, on August 16-18, 2019. While details of the festival are being kept under wraps until tickets go on sale in February, Lang did confirm that over 40 artists have already been booked. With three stages available, Lang promised a diverse lineup of artists, stating, “It’ll be hip-hop and rock and some pop and some of the legacy bands from the original festival.”
While the prospects for a lineup featuring a diverse cast of artists, both old and new, is extremely exciting, it is hard to ignore the number of artists that have passed away since the original festival. Lang hinted, without going into too much detail, that there would be performances dedicated explicitly to highlighting the artists that we lost too soon, such as Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and Hendrix.
While a festival like this could easily be looked at as merely a way to relive the past, Lang promised that Woodstock 50 is determined to cater to many different generations. Beyond just a lineup featuring older and newer bands, Lang stated that the 50th Anniversary Woodstock would also try to channel the counterculture movement of its predecessor, saying, “Woodstock, in its original incarnation, was really about social change and activism. And that’s a model that we’re bringing back to this festival. It’s a gathering for fun and excitement and experiences and to create community, but it’s also about instilling a type of energy back into young people to make their voices heard, make their votes heard.”
At a time where people are becoming more and more socially active, a festival like Woodstock seems to fit perfectly. There is no better time for this celebration of art and activism than 2019. While the details are still hazy, it is no doubt that Woodstock 50 is going to be an exciting, important event in today’s musical landscape.