At the 4th annual Ridgestock local musicians, Grupo Pagan, Christopher Ames Band, Better than Bowling, CNY Songbirds, Jamie Notarthomas, Colleen Kattau, Paul Fey, Harmonic Dirt and The Bog Brothers, paid tribute to Woodstock in Chittenango at the Ridge Rocks stone amphitheater. Ridge employees Sarah Hiltbrand and Faith Gara also contributed a few songs. The Adanfo Drummers and dancers performed two unique sets.
Peace, love and eight hours of music filled the air on a warm breezy August day ending under a bright full moon. There were many collaborations throughout the event. The Ridge keeps evolving and improving upon the outdoor space. You enter from a long, tree lined, dirt driveway and arrive at the tavern overlooking great hillside views. Owner, Melinda Sarkus, knows hospitality and the musicians and guests enjoy the welcoming atmosphere. The grounds are strewn with seating options, umbrellas, fire pits, lighting and multiple bars. Special drinks and menu items accompany the outdoor events. Ridgestock featured the Ginny Hendrix and Psychedelic Rice Krispie Treats, among others. Giant beach balls and yard games were a big hit for the young and old. It was a chill day at the Ridge despite hundreds of people in attendance. Woodstock vibes and tie dye were fully present. Some stories from Woodstock ’69 were shared; the messages still relevant almost fifty years later.
I had the pleasure of learning local musician Greg Hoover’s Woodstock tale. Here is my interview with him:
“What was the highlight of Woodstock 69 for you?”
Well, it’s not a single highlight answer thing. It’s more of a question: What was the culmination & highlight of an era? A distinct culmination that we, attending Woodstock knew at the time. As did all the local gracious residents who were in the sort of bliss, we were all surprised universally existed in some magical way. It was obvious all along the roads, fields, private lawns & porches on our treks to Yasgur’s farm, that everyone’s amazement, ours and theirs, was witnessing an aura of seeing a generous peace break out. One peace that was easily surrendered to in an obvious recognition that this was something special, perhaps in a divine gift experience.
My Woodstock began by buying some new bell-bottom jeans in a basement “headshop”clothing store where owner Tommy asked; “Where you headed?” I said, “Another music festival downstate, sort of like the recent Atlantic City Music Festival.” I asked Tommy if he wanted to go. But no, he had to stay tending his tiny basement clothing store. So, Tommy Hilfiger couldn’t go.
So I borrowed my sisters 67 blue Camaro, & went to pick up a friend and his girlfriend in north NJ. We had Woodstock tickets, but soon found we would have to park just off a country roadside miles away. How many miles to walk? Nobody cared. The experience began on that walk of our thousands, meeting amazed local neighbors along the way, who offered water and the things they had. Bathrooms even, if needed.
Arriving at the festival site the crowd of “us freaks” (term of the era) was vast! The stage announcements had begun, as we found our hillside grass seat, took out our blanket, plastic sheet, backpacks & food (center stage about 100 yds back) as Richie Havens took the stage and more began to settle in, and the natural amphitheater and when filled. The “joints” and water were being passed & shared among former strangers across the hillside. About 8 more performances & It was surely filled about the time Country Joe McDonald came on for our 1st sing along starting with: “Give me an F……..”. & response, and on to Ring of Fire. Between bands…. announcements: “Share your water & food” – “The medical tent is located stage right”, “Help your brothers & sisters”, the “Brown acid is not particularly good”, “We are the 3rd largest city in NY”, “It’s a free concert now”, “The NYS Thruway is closed man!”……….. “Locals & farmers are helping us with food.” “Army helicopters will be bringing food”, ……. and the music continued, who cared way off schedule and deep into & through the night with all the bands we knew.
Bundles of Woodstock Programs were passed about. I took one….. and I STILL HAVE IT! Dawn, The Who & “Tommy”…… for each band, I took a nice walk to the front of the stage & back to our comfy blankets. Then came the cold rains & mud. Covered ourselves or played. After the rain…. The peace was perhaps challenged. But not really, we made it fun. As we saw the rains recede, there were suddenly more helicopters in the sky & new dotted sky drops from them appeared as we stood chilly in the mud, with our curiosity looking up. Thousands of long stem daisy flowers to rejuvenate a fresh spirit! Peace still won…. dry out & small warming fires began with wood from the fences & the music continued. Saturday night, many began their saved LSD trip (you can only trip once in any 3 days, so such plans did happen) and the whole evening was underway with music through the night & the next morning “trip cashes” (coming down) were treated to Sha NA NA….. Oh Wow! Crashing & seeing gold sequin jackets…..whew! We thousands laughed at ourselves and resoundingly cheered for an encore.
A bit exhausted, and a little wet, we slept on our hillside blankets & even walked once back to our car…. then back to our blanket space we left hillside, undisturbed for the final concerts & Jimi Hendrix and the long walk back to our car, picked up along the way by a wrecker truck driver, out driving to see it all, help if needed & remarked amazed & also quite stoned by the whole event & about the weekends experience. A peaceful event, received by a magic surprise, all of us knew we would ever forget.
Got to my car, dropped off my friends, and I headed to my moms & grandmoms NYC hotel (them, already there for a trade show), I took a snooze and headed out to see HAIR on Broadway if I could (no ticket for this long sold out show). I asked the big entering in crowd if anyone had a ticket?Nope….. then, one couple asked………”How’d your bell-bottoms get so muddy in NYC?” – “ I just came in from Woodstock.” ……. Suddenly: “Hey folks this guy was at Woodstock!!!!!” – in about 5 minutes
I was given box seats & a thousand questions about what Woodstock was like being there, which apparently, all news had covered non-stop to them for 4 days!
So to your question: “What was the highlight.?” It was a very, conscious at the time, realization that in all our “summer of peace” aspirations,…. could we, as a crowd, share, get along, enjoy, give to one another, and have such music happen in our lives? It did happen, it’s a gift to be accepted when it does, it’s hard to recreate if possible & only comes from a special place inside all of us….. that gets distracted, but actually never goes away. That’s the highlight of the, & my Woodstock experience & that, 3 Days of Peace & Music.
A very special experience & memory one can never forget. It was that distinct.
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