Bethel Woods Center For The Arts, which is situated on the site of the original 1969 Woodstock festival in Bethel, NY, hosted a 50th-anniversary celebration of the legendary festival this weekend, including performances from original Woodstock acts like Santana and John Fogerty, plus Ringo Starr newer roots acts like Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Though the venue trimmed its celebration from a full festival to a special anniversary weekend, the shows had a festive feel, with arts and crafts areas, artisan vendors, meet-and-greets with Woodstock alumni and scholars, and other activities. Bethel Woods also redecorated some of the site’s original camping areas and hosted regional performers throughout the weekend, including guitarist Murali Coryell.
Each of the weekend’s headlining acts had ties to the original Woodstock, starting on Thursday with Arlo Guthrie, who kicked things off with a special set before a screening of the Woodstock film; before his performance, he played Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin” for media at the spot where the original Woodstock stage was located.
The weekend’s amphitheater offerings opened up on Friday, starting with the current incarnation of original Woodstock performers Blood, Sweat & Tears and Edgar Winter (who played with his brother Johnny at Woodstock ’69 and reprised a version of “Tobacco Road” from that performance on Friday) warming up the crowd before Ringo Starr & His All-Star Band headlined the night. Though Starr did not perform at Woodstock, Joe Cocker famously closed his set with the Starr-sung Beatles classic “With a Little Help From My Friends,” which Starr performed on Friday. The drummer’s current keyboardist, Gregg Rolie, also performed at Woodstock with Santana (and went on to co-found Journey) and performed a few of that band’s staples on Friday, like “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” and “Oye Como Va” at Bethel this past weekend.
Carlos Santana and his current band headlined on Saturday, and the guitarist nodded to his famed breakout performance at the original festival during his set. As he regularly does on tour, Santana opened his show with a video showing clips of his performance at Woodstock ’69. He also wore a black Woodstock t-shirt and discussed the importance of the event during one of his mid-show sermons. The career-spanning show featured the classic tunes mentioned above, along with his later hits “Maria Maria” and “Smooth” plus covers of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” The Doobie Brothers, who are opening for Santana during their summer run, warmed-up the crowd and sat in a cover of Bob Marley’s “Exodus” during Santana’s set. Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne and Allman Brothers Band percussionist Marc Quiñones, both of whom are touring members of Little Feat, also joined in the extended jam segment.
Finally, Woodstock alum John Fogerty closed out the final night of the celebration on Sunday. The singer/guitarist stacked the show with Creedence Clearwater Revival tunes like opener “Born On the Bayou,” “Fortunate Son,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” and encore additions “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary” and also dotted his set with clips from Woodstock, calling the site the “coolest place I could ever be.”
Two modern acts who evoke the spirit of the classic-rock era, Tedeschi Tricks Band and Grace Potter, supplied supporting duties on Sunday as well. TTB kicked off their set with the Santana Woodstock classic “Soul Sacrifice” and also fit in some of their staple covers that fit the occasion, like Joe Cocker’s version of “The Letter” and a Sly & The Family Stone medley to end the performance.
Below, watch some fan-shot video from Sunday’s offerings, courtesy of Sean Roche on YouTube.