Tour Diary – Bethel, NY (May 8, 2010)

Jason, Bob and Ed at Woodstock

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

I awoke to the sound of rain pattering against the roof on the Crazy Ed Compound. Cookie Bob and Ed have taken me under their wings on this run and my rental car has taken on new life. It was a short run into New York and we rolled into Nazarus, feeling about half past dead. Wait, that was the song we were blasting as the car pulled into Bethel, NY the actual home to the Woodstock Festival of 1969!

The group that purchased the property has built a full size amphitheater, a fantastic, interactive museum with rare video footage from the concert, and a smaller room for intimate shows (where the band played tonight). Like most new venues built in the Ticketmaster Era, the facility is clean, well equipped with security gates, and lacking in character. Thankfully, all of this was built atop the hill overlooking the original site and the spiritual epicenter of Woodstock remains untouched.

The three of us walked the property and stood at ground zero of the original stage. Looking up at the hill, the echo of the crowd whispered in the wind and one could not help but feel the power of the entire generation. For someone not yet born in 1969, the entire Woodstock mythology is a pastiche of VH-1 specials and stories from my parents about the music of that period. I thought I understood it, I thought I appreciated it. Lying on the shimmering green grass as clouds passed through my field of vision, everything felt in harmony and I realized that this wasn’t a movie, a slogan, or a brand. This was a moment in time when a generation stood together and used music as a vehicle for change. As I felt the grass tickling my neck and the damp grass seeping through my jeans, I considered what this site represents today. Is it a beautiful reminder of how we can use music to fuel social change or a cenotaph to a time when that seemed possible? I’m not sure my generation has managed to answer that question with our actions.

The room tonight situated the band in front of a dormant fireplace as the glass windows circling the room braced against fierce winds. The sound was clear and the crowd polite. Almost too polite. At times, the music was searching for the extra push from the audience to help it take flight and it wasn’t always there. On tour as a fan, there are those special moments you want to bottle and carry in a back pocket for days when you need to pour some light into your soul. When the band stripped down and delivered “Something More Besides You,” the tiniest reverberation of each guitar string entwined itself with Margo’s breath and danced slowly through the night. Much like my day in Bethel, those three minutes of music will never fade in my memory. Peace. Love. Music.

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