Woodstock Co-Founder Reveals Plans for 50th Anniversary Festival
Michael Lang, the co-founder of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Festival, has outlined his plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the event.
He's planning a "multi-generational," genre-spanning weekend concert that will take place from Aug. 16-18 at the racetrack in Watkins Glen, N.Y., 150 miles away from the Bethel Woods, N.Y., site of the original.
The lineup won't be announced until February, when tickets go on sale, but Lang told Rolling Stone that there will be more than 40 acts on three stages. "It’ll be an eclectic bill," he said. "It’ll be hip-hop and rock and some pop and some of the legacy bands from the original festival.”
Tribute sets to some of the late classic rock artists who performed at the original 1969 festival -- like Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker and members of the Band -- will be played by newer musicians. “Having contemporary artists interpret that music would be a really interesting and exciting idea,” Lang noted. “We’re also looking for unique collaborations, maybe some reunions and a lot of new and up-and-coming talent.”
He added it's unlikely that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, who famously played their second-ever show at Woodstock, will put aside their differences and reunite. “I’ve talked to them all individually,” he says. “And it’s a mess.”
Lang is also hoping to revive the political spirit of the original festival by giving non-governmental organizations, particularly those related to the environment, a forum at the new event.
“Woodstock, in its original incarnation, was really about social change and activism,” he said. “And that’s a model that we’re bringing back to this festival. It’s a gathering for fun and for excitement and for experiences and to create community, but it’s also about instilling kind of an energy back into young people to make their voices heard, make their votes heard. ... Things on the planet are critical at this point, especially when it comes to global warming. Everyone has a stake and ignoring it is ridiculous. I really want people to explore how they can get involved. That’s one of my main motivations for doing this.”
Lang decided on the Watkins Glen International racetrack -- the site of a 1973 concert by the Allman Brothers Band, the Grateful Dead and the Band that was attended by an estimated 600,000 people -- because it had the space and facilities necessary to accommodate the crowd he's hoping to attract. The Bethel Woods site has since been turned into a cultural center and museum, and will hold its own event to commemorate the festival's 50th anniversary.
“They’re good stewards of the original site and they built a beautiful performing arts pavilion,” Lang noted. “But it’s a 15,000-seat shed. That’s not a Woodstock.”