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I’m Dave Price and I operate a writing/speaking/tour guiding practice in Washington, DC. Before that, I was a journalist (10 years) and an educator and educational consultant (34 years).
I am focusing on 3 subjects:
the Baby Boomer generation
classic rock and
issues of Boomer aging, especially as they affect men
As a Book Author: I am awaiting publication (now set for late October) of my first book in my 3-book series on classic rock entitled Come Together: How the Baby Boomers, the Beatles and a Young Counterculture Combined to Create the Music of the Woodstock Generation.
As a Freelance Writer: I am a senior contributor to the digital hub Booming Encore
As a Tour Guide: I lead First Amendment tours at the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.
At my Website:Talking ‘Bout My Generation contains my writings, my photos, and articles of interest from others dealing with the Baby Boom generation (those of us born between 1946 and 1964), classic rock (music from the ’50s/’60s/’70s) and issues that are affecting us Boomers as we age.
Here is a link to an online version of what academics call a CV and most of us call a resume. You can find out more there about who I am and what I have done there. Thanks for checking out my writer/speaker/tour guiding page. I hope you find things here to interest you and keep you coming back.
As a former journalist I’m used to seeing my name in print, but this was the first time one of my programs made the news in Washington, DC. My lecture was listed second of the best things to do in DC on this particular Monday night. And I have to admit, Paws of Honor was a much better cause than my talk.
MONDAY DOGS The St. Gregory Hotel is celebrating National Dog Day with a “Patio Pawty” where both humans and canines can enjoy food and drinks (four-legged friends will enjoy treats from Doggy Style Bakery). The event is a fundraiser for Paws of Honor , a nonprofit that provides no-cost veterinary care for retired service and military dogs, which the hotel also supports with its pet stay fees. Paws of Honor alums will be on hand for snuggles and belly rubs. Free to attend; $35 for drinks, light appetizers, and doggy treats, 5 PM – 10 PM.
LECTURE Even beyond Woodstock, 1969 was a crucial year for music with the formation of the Allman Brothers, Judas Priest, and ZZ Top as well as the recording of the Beatles’ final album. In a lecture at the S. Dillon Ripley Center presented by Smithsonian Associates, DC-based author Dave Price will explore the year in a before-and-after context, looking at the events of 1959 (“the day the music died” with the death of Buddy Holly ) and the late 1970s with the arrival of Tom Petty , the Clash, and more. Price will pull from the research for his upcoming book What’s That Sound: Song Lists and Stories to Help You Better Understand the Music of the Baby Boom Era. The final lecture in the series takes place on September 23 . $45, 6:45 PM.
Since this was the last of the festival, we decided to arrive as close to the noon opening as we could to catch any exhibits we had missed and tour the Woodstock Museum one final time.
I headed immediately to the Writer’s Den tent. There were 3 writers of Woodstock books I wanted to talk to –
For a while, we simply wandered the grounds, shooting pictures to capture the spirit of the 50th anniversary. Here’s some of what we saw …
Of course, there were younger folks there, too
On Friday and Saturday, the concerts had started at 7 p.m. But tonight, the 3-group show – Grace Potter, The Trucks/Teschi Band, and closer John Fogerty, who had played the original festival with Creedence Clearwater Revival – was scheduled to commence one hour earlier, at 6 p.m.
The crowd was ready …
… But 15 minutes before the show was to begin, this message flashed on the screen …
Of course, those who had arrived on the lawn as early as 2 p.m. to get as close to the stage as they could, weren’t happy with the announcement. However, security helped clear the lawn, where most people simply left chairs and blankets to mark their spot. We didn’t have to relocate since were had pavilion seats. About half an hour after the announcement was made, the sky darkened, thunder rolled, and lighting flashed. Strong winds gusted, bending trees on the site. Rain drops began pelting the pavilion. After all, this was Woodstock, right. Finally, the storm dissipated, the lawn attendees returned, the concessions reopened, and the concert got set to begin, albeit 90 minutes past its scheduled time.
While we waited, I began chatting with the man beside me. Initially, he told me he and his wife were residents Bethel Hills. In fact, he said his farm was located right next to the festival property. I asked Fred if he had attended the original festival. He said he and his brother wandered over to the site daily after their formwork had been completed. But he had an even more intriguing story about the festival to tell.
“Do you remember the movie?” he asked.
“Of course,” I replied. “I first saw it as soon as it was released and I watched it right before we came up here.”
“Well, remember that opening scene – where a farmer was plowing a field. That was my Dad. Some of those long-haired filmmakers had asked him if they could film him. We didn’t know he was in the movie until a guy who used to work for us called from California to let us know,” Fred said.
He asked me about Grace Potter and I told him she was one of my favorite current touring acts and I seen her several times, first with her band the Nocturnals and twice as a solo act. We also talked a little about Derek Allman and his guitar playing, blues singing wife Susan Tedeschi. Fred told me he had seen John Fogerty a few years ago and I told him I had just seen him on the debut night of his residency at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. And then, it was time for then concert to begin.
Grace Potter – “I’d Rather Go Blind”
Tedeschi/ Trucks Band – “Soul Sacrifice”
Tedeschi- Trucks Band – Sly and the Family Stone Medley
And finally, John Fogerty, playing 11 of the 13 songs he played with CCR at Woodstock 50 years ago, as well as some songs from that time and a couple of his other hits.
Since we had spent 11 hours at the Bethel Hills site yesterday, we decided not to go early today. At noon, we went to lunch at the Two Rivers Grill in Matadoras, Pennsylvania where we staying. There we met my new favorite waitress, Lisa, who had just started work that week. For a few years now, if my wife Judy and I order dessert, we share. I’ve made it a standing joke to ask our servers to bring Judy a smaller fork or spoon so that I can get more of the dessert. Today, Lisa complied. But there was a twist. She brought the smaller fork for me, explaining that Judy, as a female, deserved the larger portion. Our dessert was delicious. It was fresh-baked caramel covered apple pie (neighboring upstate New York is known not only as the original home of Woodstock, but also for its apples) with home-made vanilla ice cream. And I don’t even like apple pie.
On the elevator at the Hampton Inn we met a Buffalo couple, Maria and Gunner, who had just arrived that morning and were going to the Woodstock for the first time. They asked us several questions, and since we all had lawn seats for the Santana performance, we asked them if they wanted to travel to the Bethel site with us. They said that would be great and the four of us were on the road by 3 p.m.
While Gunner and Maria wandered around taking in the atmosphere and the sights that we had been exposed to yesterday, Judy and I decided to focus on a just a couple of exhibits.
First up was the Light Bus, a version of which had actually made the journey to the original 1969 festival. In fact, the bus itself has a storied history. In 1968, Bob Grimm, who was then playing in a rock band named Light, asked his friend Robert Hieronymus to “paint us a magic bus”. Heronimus immediately got to work transforming a 1963 split window VW Kombi bus into a vehicle covered with esoteric symbols to welcome in to what was then being called a new Aquarian Age.
Like Ken Kesey and his fellow pranksters on their famed bus Further, Grimm and his friends made the trip across country in 1969 to Woodstock. Their painted bus was featured in an AP Woodstock photo that appeared in newspaper’s around America. Based on that photo, the bus began appearing in all kinds of publications and became a a talismanic of the peace and love portion of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
In 1972, the bus was used to run errands for the Savitra commune in Baltimore. Within a short time, the now decaying bus became unusable. However, in 2009, as part of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, a limited edition diecast model replica of the Light Bus was a popular best-seller.
In 2018, Hironimus and a team of artists restored a 1962 Kombi VW bus in a secluded barn in Maryland. Now, that restoration was drawing big crowds, most of whom wanted to get the pictures taken with the Light Bus in the background.
Next, I headed to Recovery Unplugged tent to talk Jim, a recovering alcoholic police officer from my home state of New Jersey who I had chatted with briefly yesterday. He was at Woodstock at a representative of the music-based alcohol and drug treatment program Recovery Unplugged offers at its facilities in Lake Worth and Fort Lauderdale in Florida and northern Virginia. A fourth facility is expected to open soon in Nashville.
Jim explained that Recovery Unplugged are pioneers in music-based addiction treatment. “Actually, our C.A.C. is the man who literally wrote the book on music-based addiction,” Jim explained, pointing out Paul Pellinger’s book about the story of Recovery Unplugged Music Is Our Medicine. Several musicians including Steven Tyler and Richie Supa of Aerosmith, Morris Day of the Time, and the rapper Flo-Rida are associated with the program.
While we were talking, a Bethel Woods worker approached and told Jim that he and his fellow workers would have to take down their tent and secure all the Recovery Unplugged items as a severe storm was expected to strike the area in about half-an-hour.
Judy and I decided to seek shelter in the Woodstock Museum until the storm passed. We focused on two of the exhibits, one explaining in depth the background of all the artists who performed at the first Woodstock festival and the other a temporary exhibit We Are Golden: Reflections on the 50th Anniversary Festival and Aspirations for a Peaceful Future.
The special exhibition features a collection of of authentic Woodstock artifacts including Jack Cassidy of Jefferson Airplane’s bass guitar and the tunic he wore, handwritten lyrics for the song “Goin’ Up the Country” by Alan Wilson of Canned Heat, and a speaker cabinet and missing equipment used by Bill Hanley, whose work established the standard for outdoor concert sound.
Other sections included Voices from the Past, which presented first-person commentary about changing American society in the 1960s; Woodstock Remembered, first person accounts from people who attended the historic three-day festival; Woodstock Through the Lens, a collection of photos taken at the festival; and What the World Needs Now, an interactive exhibit tat engaged participants in conversations about what they want from society today and how the experiences from 50 years ago could inform attitudes, decision-making, and actions today.
While we were inside, the threatened severe storm never materialized and we headed to the amphitheater lawn to meet Gunner and Maria and enjoy in tonight’s concert with The Doobie Brothers and Santana, with its leader Carlos Santana whose musical breakthrough came from the song “Soul Sacrifice” which was featured in the award-winning 1970 documentary on Woodstock.
Of course, the original Woodstock was plagued by incessant rain storms that turned the festival fields into veritable seas of mud and mess. In fact, one of the lasting moments from the film featured the crowd shouting the “No Rain, No Rain” chant which provided the segue into Santana’s energetic performance.
Well, as if to prove the musical gods have a sense of both history and irony, after the Doobie Brothers concluded their set (which included their huge hits “Listen to the Music”, “Jesus Is Just Alright,” “Long Train Runnin,” and “China Grove,” as well as my all-time favorite Doobie’s tune “Ukiah,” lighting flashed and thunder rolled. Those of us in the amphitheater (which has a reported capacity of 16,200 but on this Saturday night, was estimated to be far more than 20,000) prepared for bad weather, and, indeed just minutes before Carlos Santana and his current band were scheduled to take the stage, rain began falling.
As they have on this tour all summer, Santana was paying tribute both to Woodstock and the 50th anniversary of his band. With an explosion of noise from the crowd, a precoded version of the rain chant from the Woodstock burst from the speakers and, once on stage, the band broke into three songs that became their standards from their initial Woodstock debut – “Soul Sacrifice,” Jin-go-lo-ba,” and “Evil Ways”. Now, while it is true you can’t go home again, or as the Chinese put it, you can’t put you feet in the same river twice, that Santana there-song opening was about as close as you can get if you had been one of the estimated 400,000 who attended Woodstock in 1969.
Chatted with two fellow travelers this morning on the road to Woodstock 2019, the 3-day 50thanniversary of the historic music festival at the original site, at our Hampton Inn, which is about 30 miles from Bethel Woods. I assumed they were headed there when I saw they were both carrying clear plastic totes. Concert rules specified that you could only take such carrying cases onto the Museum and amphitheater grounds.
The two women were from Houston, Texas. One had been at the original festival (she had also seen the Beatles live, but that was another story) and she was bringing her best friend along to help relive the memories and make new ones.
However, she admitted to being a little worried. Festival officials had announced that no one would be allowed near the property, which is now listed on the national Historic Registry, unless they had a special pass permit, which had been mailed to ticket holders. There were three separate concerts scheduled for the three days and each required a special access permit in addition to a ticket. She had left Houston with three days of tickets, but only two permits. The one for the Ringo Starr concert hadn’t arrived. However, two days prior to the start of the festival Bethel Woods officials had emailed out a notice of what to do and where to goif you hadn’t received permits or tickets. “I won’t feel good until I have that permit in my hand,” she said. I gave her my card and said to contact me if she ran into any problems. She didn’t. So I assume she made it Woodstock without incident.
On the Road Again.
Shortly after noon, Judy and I pulled out of our hotel, for the back-country ride to Woodstock. We SIRIed the directions. (How did I get anywhere before SIRI?). To say the route was circuitous, winding, and up and down and up and down again does a disservice to all those descriptors. There were also long stretches where there was no sign of human habitation. I made note to find a different route back to the Hampton Inn after the concert. If was fun riding these roads in daylight, but I didn’t relish doing the same after midnight.
First Signs of Hippie Culture
About two miles from the site, we saw our first evidence of the reunion. A group of about 20 families, all dressed in the colorful garb of the late 60s and early ‘70s, had set up an impromptu campground. Many of them flashed us the peace sign as we drove slowly past the encampment.
Woodstock Straight Ahead Down This Road
During the 1969 festival, there were reports of 17-mile long traffic jams, with thousands of music lovers abandoning their vehicles and walking miles to the hear the music, and in the parlance of the times “dig the vibes”. As we approached the single-entrance road, there were less than 17 cars in front of us. We pointed to our permit hanging from our mirror and the county sheriff officer waved us on through. We parked in Lot E-3. Woodstock 50 and whatever it would hold was only about a half-mile of walking away. As we ambled, we noticed the look of our fellow Woodstockians. For many of the women, it was peasant blouses, loose long shirts, fringe, and flowers-in-their-hair. For men, it was mostly tie-dye or music t-shirts. Judy was dressed as Judy always dresses in Judy style. I wore faded jeans and a white with blue and gold lettered t-shirt my two grandkids had given me bearing the slogan “I May Be Old, But St Least I Saw All the Good Bands”. Throughout the day, several festival-goers, when they saw my t-shirt offered up some variation of the comment, “Man, ain’t that the truth”.
And So It Begins
The first thing on the grounds we encountered was a small group showcasing a replica of a restored, painted VW bus they were calling The Woodstock Bus, which they had shipped from California for the festival. They had some great stories and I promised I would come back to interview them before the festival was over.
As we prepared to enter the Museum, I noticed Woodstock Museum curator Wade Lawrence instructing people where to go. I had met Wade on a Flower Power music cruise a few years ago. I had let him know we were coming to Woodstock 2019 to gather information for my next book and I wanted to chat with him if we got a chance. Wade acknowledged me, but quickly added, “I guess you can see that right now wouldn’t be the best time”. He was definitely correct.
Since it was now after 2 p.m., Judy and I were hungry and we decided to make lunch our first stop. Now, the first festival in 1969 was plagued by food shortages, but it was clear that wouldn’t be the case 50 years later. In addition to the museum café, there were food booths set up all over the grounds. Much of the food offered had a festival-appropriate name. There was the Hendrix Hamburger, the Santana chicken sandwich, and the Hog Farm pulled-pork bowl. We were first joined at our table by a lone traveler who had decided to stop on his drive between his two homes – one in Martha’s Vineyard and one in Miami. While we were chatting, we were joined by a mother and her teen-aged son, who was a huge classic rock fan. He sported a Beatles t-shirt and admitted to being excited about seeing his first Beatle in performance. Then two couples from San Diego sat down with us. As we were offering our back stories, we discovered that one husband had worked for years in the U.S. Patent office which was located in our home community of Crystal City and he and his wife, who worked with AOL founder Steve Case, had lived in Old Town Alexandria, just 3 Metro stops from our current apartment. (Small world indeed, as they say)
After lunch, Judy and I spent 2 hours strolling the grounds and visiting the various booths and displays located there. There were two stages set up where live local music was performed throughout the afternoon. Judy spent much of her time in the artisan tents, while my favorite stop was the writer’s tent where I talked with a half dozen writers who had written books dealing in some way with Woodstock.
Of course, you can’t consider Woodstock without thinking rain and mud. I had mixed feelings about the rain. While it would be cool to say you survived the rain at Woodstock (even if it was 50 years later) and make for a good tale, I didn’t really want to be drenched before the concert. (I wasn’t worried about the show because our seats for Ringo were under cover). But of course, that would not be a decision for me decide. As we were talking to friendly recovering volunteers at the Recovery Unplugged tent (one was a former Jersey policeman), festival officials came by and announced that the weather was calling for a severe storm with hail to pass through the area in a short time, meaning that all tents should be pulled down and all items stored safely. Judy and I decided to seek shelter from the predicted storm by using this time to check out the actual museum, which we had visited once before several years ago. It was great then and the fact that we were actually seeing it again exactly 50 years to the week when the original festival was held, made it even more special this time. After we emerged, we discovered that the threatened, violent storm had only passed through the area as some brief showers. (I guess that “no rain, no rain, no rain, no rain” chant works better in the 21stCentury than it did in the previous one. After dinner (for me it was the Hendrix hamburger), we headed to the amphitheater for the big event of the first day – a concert by Ringo Starr and his All-Star Band, with opening acts the latest version of Blood, Sweat and Tears (which, in its second grouping had played at the original Woodstock festival) and Edgar Winter, who had performed two songs there with his deceased Texas bluesman brother, Johnny, in 1969.
Up first, Blood, Sweat and Tears provided the perfect dilemma for today’s fans of 1960s music – was it the songs or the original artists performing them that we most loved. There is not one member of BS&T who played at Woodstock and on their initial records now in the band. However, with today’s powerful, sophisticated sound systems, many of the songs sound much better live now than they did back then. That was definitely the case with BS&T, who I first saw in the fall of 1969, and on this night, recreated the performance from their set at the original Woodstock. For me, that meant they played two of my favorite Blood, Sweat and Tears tunes – “More and More” (their opener) and “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”. (And, just in case you want to know my third unplayed-on-this-night favorite, it’s “I Can’t Quit Her”.
Edgar Winter, on keyboards and sax, was backed by a talented and versatile three-piece band, for his 45-minute set. One of the highlights was the classic “Tobacco Road” which he had played with his brother Johnny in 1969. Another was his brother’s signature song “Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo,” which Edgar introduced by saying, “here’s a song my brother would be playing about right now if he were here tonight”.
Finally, it was Ringo ‘s turn. And I mean, really, what’s to say. He’s a Beatle, one of the only two remaining with us on Earth. He’s 79 years old, but you would never know it from his energy on stage. And he’s Ringo Starr and all that name implies. For more than a decade, Ringo has been touring with friends in various configurations of his All-Star Band. The group plays tunes Ringo sang with the Beatles, a few of his solo hits, and songs the members of his current lineup made famous in their own groups. Here is his set list for Woodstock 50:
It Don’t come easy
Pick Up the Pieces
Don’t Pass Me By
Black Magic Woman
Work to Do
Oye Como Va
I Wanna Be You’re Man
Who Can It Be Now?
Hold the Line
With A Little Help From My Friends/Give Peace A Chance
And given the history of Woodstock, how could you find a better first-day closer than “With a Little Help from My Friends and Give Peace a Chance?”