Woodstock 50 organizer Michael Lang who, in 1969 along with Artie Kornfeld, put together the famous original Woodstock Music & Art Festival in Bethel Woods, N.Y., told a March 19 media gathering that he didn’t have as much to do with the roster as it might appear.
“Full disclosure: My kids, who are here, had a lot to do with it,” Lang said when Common praised him for a young, diverse lineup coming to Watkins Glen Raceway Aug. 16-18.
And so it is. With appearances from such current stars as Jay-Z, The Killers, Miley Cyrus, Chance The Rapper, and The Black Keys all headlining over the three days, youth culture will again reign o’er Woodstock.
Though it’s not your grandfather’s Woodstock, there will still be a heavy presence of the ancestors in the air.
Carlos Santana, who has been booked at both Woodstock 50 and a coinciding commemoration at Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival 200 miles east, is returning for the 50th, along with Grateful Dead descendent Dead & Company and John Fogerty – whose Creedence Clearwater Revival was around for the original.
Other Woodstock (or Woodstock-era) veterans include David Crosby and Friends, Canned Heat, Country Joe McDonald, John Sebastian, and Melanie. Robert Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters, while not strictly Woodstock related, are also in the lineup.
Headlining on Aug. 16 are The Killers, Miley Cyrus and Santana. Dead & Company, Chance The Rapper, and The Black Keys top the lineup Aug. 17; and Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons, and Halsey close out the top of the poster on Aug. 18.
Other artists include The Lumineers, The Raconteurs, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, Run The Jewels, The Head and The Heart, Maggie Rogers, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Bishop Briggs, Fever 333 and Larkin Poe on Day 1. Sturgill Simpson, Greta Van Fleet, Portugal. The Man, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr.; Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Dawes, Margo Price, India.Arie, Jade Bird, Rival Sons, and Emily King are among the performers on Day 2. And Cage the Elephant, Brandi Carlile, Janelle Monáe, Young The Giant, Courtney Barnett, Common, Vince Staples, Judah and The Lion, Earl Sweatshirt, Boygenius, Reignwolf, The Zombies, and Pussy Riot are highlights on Day 3.
Tickets go on sale on Earth Day, April 22. More information can be found at the Woodstock 50 website.
Fogerty, Common, writer and producer Alan Zweibel, and HeadCount Executive Director Andy Bernstein were all on hand at Electric Lady Studio in New York City for the announcement and lineup reveal for the 2019 edition.
Zweibel, a writer and producer of “Saturday Night Live,” PBS’s “Great Performances,” and “It’s Gary Shandling’s Show,” introduced the group, explaining that SNL aspired to Woodstock-level cultural relevance.
“We were the comedy version of what the music was back then,” Zweibel told the gathered media. “We tried to do what was done at Woodstock, but comedically.” The University of Buffalo, which he attended from 1968-72, considered itself “the Berkeley of the East.”
Actual Berkeley-raised Creedence Clearwater Revival was the first band booked for the original Woodstock Music & Arts Festival in 1969, Fogerty claimed – though that was difficult to fact-check. Whether it was the first booking, John Fogerty was definitely there for the historic three days of peace, love and music along with his late brother Tom, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford in CCR.
Lang noted another similarity between shows, despite the half-century separating them. “It’s spooky how similar things are,” he said, pointing to youth activism around environmentalism, #MeToo, and Black Lives Matter compared with similar movements gaining momentum in 1969.
Common gave a nod to the social justice goals of Woodstock 50, while taking note that that not everything will be reminiscent of the original festival on Max Yasgur’s famous farm.
“My first awareness of a festival was Woodstock,” Common said. “I’m from hip hop culture and we never thought we’d be a part of Woodstock.
“I’m performing at a festival but it means more than that,” he added, referencing the festival’s social justice programs.
HeadCount Executive Director Andy Bernstein, who led a panel on voter engagement at Pollstar Live! in February, said Lang reached out to him to take part on National Voter Registration Day, and noted that Woodstock has always been a topic of discussion at HeadCount.
Among the organizations activating at Woodstock 50, in addition to HeadCount, are Conservation International, Dolphin Project, Felix Organization, Happy Hippie Foundation, Hiring America, March For Our LIves, REFORM Alliance, Seva Foundation and SocialWorks.
“It’s not just about consuming music it’s about giving back,” Bernstein said.
“Woodstock is the defining festival and now we’re going to have the chance to define it for today.”