GONE FISHING. . .for longshot winners. . .

I won’t be doing much over here this summer because I’m blogging daily for Saratoga over at The Unbearable Lightness of Betting. Here is a post that I think will appeal to the 50 Licks Blog audience in particular.

At some point, I’d like to come back over to this space and at the very least provide a little “Best Of. . .” post to put a bow on this blog. I can definitely see blogging more about music in particular and this is a space where I might do that. Or, at the very least, you’d be able to find my new music blogging venture from here. Talk soon,

PTF the Elder

Upcoming Google + Hangout On Air and other publicity stuff

Things on the book publicity front have really heated up. The main purpose of this post is to show you what’s been going on.

GOOGLE + HANGOUT ON AIR

One thing I’m really excited about is this upcoming Google + Hangout on Air we’re doing on Wednesday night at 7:30pm eastern time. The great Ken Dashow will be moderating a panel that includes me, Bernie and noted Stones historian (and author) Bill German. And if you miss it live, it will be archived on my blog as well.

For more information — and to sign up to join us — you can click here.

What else have we been up to?

We have done some thoughtful interviews with cool folks in the music blogosphere:

Check us out on the LA Music Blog

And on the Radio BDC blog

And over on Speak Into My Good Eye

We have received some cool Facebook love from a couple of music legends Robert Randolph and Southside Johnny

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And you can check out this radio appearance on Tom Cunningham’s BRUCE BRUNCH radio show on 105.7 THE HAWK.

More links to come!!

On the Day That I Was Born (Guest Post by @Blankemon)

There’s been a lot happening in the world of the Rolling Stones and 50 Licks, what with a secret show, the official start of the tour, and, best of all, Tom Waits showing up in Oakland to play Little Red Rooster. But you can click those links for those stories. Today, I am handing over the blog to Matt Blankman, who will be sharing a story about the day of his birth, the Grateful Dead, and nothing short of the healing power of music in our lives. Take it away, Matt!

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My birthday, today, May 7, is an auspicious date in the history of the Grateful Dead, so I suppose in some way, it’s not surprising I grew up to be such a fan of their music. May 7 is the birthday of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, who manned the traps for the entirety of their existence (paired with Mickey Hart for the bulk of it). It’s also the date of a couple key performances for the band – most notably, the actual day of my birth, May 7, 1972, when the Dead played the Bickershaw Festival in Wigan, England as part of their famed European tour of that spring. They put on an epic performance that day to a rain-soaked, mud-stained crowd which included a young, bespectacled fan named Declan MacManus. Whether it was Bill the Drummer’s birthday that spurred them on, I can’t say, but it’s one of the great performances by the band in a year that was full of them.

However, the Dead show on my mind this morning, as I turn 41, took place five years later, just a couple of months before MacManus, now known as Elvis Costello, released his first album, “My Aim Is True.” On May 7, 1977, while I was blowing out the candles on my 5th birthday cake, the Dead were playing the Boston Garden, part of another tour that became legendary in the eyes and ears of its fans. The tour began in late April and after a few shows hit New York City. They went into the Palladium on April 29th one band and left it after the May 4th show another; somehow changed – more focused, energetic, cohesive.  For the next month, they played one astonishing show after another and by the time they got to Boston on the 7th, they were already in high gear.

The whole show is worth your time, but the one song from that night that stands out for me is “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,” a song that had been in their live repertoire since the summer of 1972. Robert Hunter’s lyric is a wry, witty tale of a ne’er do well leaving his home behind and lighting out for parts unknown and presumably greener pastures and better days. Garcia’s music matches the folksy, humorous tone of the words.  I can’t claim to have listened to every version of the song, but as far as I’m concerned, this one is the definitive take. About four minutes in, the verses of the song end and Jerry Garcia embarks on a remarkable guitar solo. It begins as a fairly standard circa-1977, lyrical Garcia solo, Phil Lesh and the rest of the band laying back, letting Jerry have his say, but a couple of minutes in, he hits a crescendo that is answered by Kreutzmann and Hart and they’re off to the races. Lesh and Bob Weir click in to the same zone and pretty soon the solo becomes a beautiful example of the type of musical conversation that marks all the best Grateful Dead live music. A conversation between the members – between Garcia and Lesh, with Weir commenting on the sidelines, or (and often concurrently) a conversation between the band and the audience, in this case we can assume a typically raucous East Coast crowd. Whatever was at work, it propels Garcia’s playing to new space. Garcia was a musician who could evince many moods and emotions wordlessly through his playing; here as they build steam and pressure, he seems to be expressing nothing but pure joy — the joy of making music, perhaps, or maybe simply the joy of being there. The tension grows to a tremendous peak, explodes and then drops out so that Garcia, Weir and Donna Godchaux can beautifully sing the coda and take us “Across the Rio Grandee-o” (complete with a lyric flub – hey, this is the Grateful Dead, I wouldn’t have them any other way) before it builds up again for Jerry takes one more run at it. There’s that pure expression of joy again.

Jerry Garcia is no more, of course, and the same is true for the Grateful Dead, though an unreasonably devoted and adoring fan base keeps the music alive. This recording of this song is one I turn to often, not just on this date. I find it impossible to be cowed by my worries, fears and anxieties while listening to it. “We are alive – here at this time, in this place,” I hear Garcia saying through his playing that night, “Rejoice.”

AUDIO BLOG: Ken Dashow on Pete Fornatale/50 LICKS

Ken Dashow

Ken Dashow

No real post from me today, but I will be back later in the week with a guest post in this space, and some horse racing thoughts over at my other blog, www.unbearablebetting.com. But for now, check out this cool audio clip that I’ve posted over on Archive.org. It’s a cool clip of Ken Dashow talking about my Dad and 50 Licks. Once you’re there, just click the play button on the right hand side of the page about halfway down.

And, in case you missed it the first time, you can hear Perrin’s Mixed Bag radio debut debut over on there as well.

RE-Blog: My Billy Bragg Story

I posted this awhile back on my other blog but hey, if you can’t steal from yourself, who can you steal from? I’m going to see Billy Bragg tonight at Town Hall so I wanted to share this again in my musical blog space. Here goes:

 

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It was twenty years ago today. Actually, it was 22 years ago. And it was not “today” per se, it was September 13th, but that’s close enough for rock and roll. And this is one of my favorite rock and roll stories.

I was a freshman at the State University of New York at New Paltz in upstate New York. I had just met a new friend, Steve Tell. Steve was older than me, and even though I perceived him as a rival for a girl I was interested in at the time, I liked him right away. He liked great music, he was mellow, fun and a Mets fan. And he told this amazing story about his dad laughing so hard at a Gabe Kaplan comedy gig that he vomited in some stranger’s coat pocket in the cloakroom. What wasn’t to like?

I had just started on the campus radio station, WFNP. Working for FNP was the first time I’d ever heard of a format called “Alternative,” which I considered an oxymoron. I was struggling a bit at the station, looking for a way to do something different and yet still fit in overall. A few weeks later, I’d get into trouble for playing a Paul Simon record on his birthday (not alternative enough I guess) but there were plenty of artists in the Hot Box at FNP that I was happy to play, none moreso than Billy Bragg.

In the late 80s, Billy Bragg was one of my favorite recording artists. I first heard him live from the UN playing “Help Save The Youth of America” during one of the old live music Hungerthons my Dad, the rock and roll version of Jerry Lewis, would host. Workers Playtime got me through at least one tough break-up, a post modern Blood on the Tracks. Billy remains a personal favorite of mine to this day. A brilliant writer and performer, these days I dream of collaborating on a book with him. But back in 1990, I was just an 18-year old fan. And I was pretty damn psyched when I heard he was going to be playing a show just over the river at the de facto all girls’ school (ahem, women’s college), Vassar. Vassar was a favorite place to visit back in the day for not only the aforementioned co-eds, but also the plethora of interesting arts options: Shawn Colvin in the coffee house, Jim Jarmusch films on the big screen, Billy Bragg on the lawn. And it was all free.

Steve had a car, dug Billy, and was up for driving over to the show. It was one of those gorgeous, golden September evenings. I snuck in a little radio with me that included a tape recorder. I wasn’t planning on bootlegging the show. I was just a big fan of the 1990 Mets, and they had a HUGE game that night against the team they were in a pennant race with, the Pittsburgh Pirates. I must have gone to 20 games that summer with a crew from high school that included Josh Volpe (who in a shocking moment of apostasy became a Yankee fan a few years later), and Charlie Siegel, who lived in a two family house with Mets catcher (well, sort of) Mackey Sasser. Anyway, I figured I could keep tabs on the game between songs or something. Perhaps a younger reader might ask why I didn’t just check the score on my phone? These were the days before non military grade mobile phones, kids, let alone internet ready ones. This is the kind of shit we had to deal with in the bad old days.

Shortly after we arrived, we realized there was a little problem. Billy was late. VERY late. You see, he was doing the Letterman show that night around 5ish, and someone had incorrectly indicated to his management how long it would take at that hour to get from Manhattan, where Letterman taped, to Poughkeepsie, the home of Vassar (75 miles north).

This was less a problem for me, as it enabled Steve and me to quietly huddle around the radio and follow the game. The Mets started the day 2 ½ games back of the Pirates, and we had our co-ace Dwight Gooden on the mound (we also had 1988 AL Cy Young Award winner Frankie “Sweet Music” Viola). The Bucs got two in the top of first and it looked like it was going to be one of those nights, especially since the Mets were going against their ace, Doug Drabek. But the boys got to Drabek in the 4th, knocking him out of the game, the big blow a Daryl Strawberry home run.

Shortly after the Straw man’s blast, whoever was running the show sent out folksinger Greg Trooper to perform as an impromptu Opening Act. That’s what I thought at the time anyway. Looking back at the amazing website, Braggtopia, it looks like Greg was on the bill officially two days later at the Ritz, so maybe he was scheduled to be there all along. But it seemed like he was just doing a free turn helping everybody out. Steve and I rooted for him and he was great. I recall him really sending it in on his showstopper, Ireland, which is, apparently, about a girl from Brooklyn.

Greg finished up and Steve and I checked in once again on the proceedings down at Shea. My man Daryl Boston, who I was ready to give a lifetime contract to at that point, knocked another one out towards the chop shops to make it 6-2. I felt pretty good, especially considering that 80s Met killer Sammy Khalifa had retired three years earlier (If you’re one of the six people who get that reference, take a bow).

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Finally, FINALLY, Billy hit the stage. Back then, I thought his hilarious stage patter and energetic performance were motivated at least in part because he felt bad about making us wait so long — but I’ve subsequently realized that he’s just that damn good EVERY time.

I didn’t record the exact set list and Braggtopia doesn’t have it, but I remember a few things. I believe he opened with “Milkman of Human Kindness.”

I’m pretty sure he played “St. Swithin’s Day.”

I know that night is when I heard “North Sea Bubble” for the first time, with Billy’s patter focusing on Thomas Paine. I think he played Greg Trooper’s song, “Everywhere.”

At some point Billy mentioned his long-time roadie and pal Wiggy and somebody yelled out: “Wiggy Stardust!” Billy obliged and played the last few bars from Bowie’s classic, subbing in the appropriate name.

I recall one of the rare, male Vassar kids yelling out for “New England,” and Billy cheekily saying, “I know where I am.” I guess he didn’t realize that Poughkeepsie isn’t technically New England, but with as long as it took him to get there from NYC, who could blame him? And when he finally got around to playing his hit, he omitted the word “prams,” instead rolling his eyes, Jagger-style, and replacing it with “baby carts.”

After the show, I checked in with the Mets one last time. They had held on to win 6-3 and were within 1 ½ games of first. Sadly, that was close to the high water mark of the season. They did get within half a game a couple of days later, but they never made the front, tailing off and missing the playoffs. Had the Wild Card existed back then, they’d have made it, but then again, that September game I remember so well wouldn’t have meant nearly as much.

At the time, of course, Steve and I knew none of that. There we were, on a total high. The show was amazing, the Mets had won. I had an idea. I told our other friends what I wanted to do and they looked at me sideways and said they’d meet us back at the dorm. Only Steve believed.

I was stupid and 18. I beseeched Steve to follow my lead and started asking around for the Student Union building. I wasn’t sure Billy would be there, but part of being stupid and 18 is that, like a heel in pro wrestling, you have no short supply of overweening self-confidence. We found the place and I proceeded to lay down some line of absolute bullshit to whomever was guarding the performers’ area. I have no idea what I said. I may have referenced my father’s employer, WNEW. I may have told some version of the truth. But the next thing we knew, we were at a table, surrounded by a particularly fetching bunch of Vassar coeds, with Mr. Billy Bragg, front and center. I don’t really remember what he was eating but for the purposes of this piece I’m going to say it was a curry. I introduced myself quickly, did what I went in there to do, and we got the hell out of there.

Less than an hour later, I headed to the TV room at Bouton Hall. Billy’s Letterman appearance was just about to air. One of my friends asked, “How did it go?”

“It wasn’t what I’d hoped,” I lied, “I only got this.”

And then I hit play on the tape:

“Hi, this is Billy Bragg and you’re listening to Peter Thomas Fornatale on WFNP, radio New Paltz.”

The Story of Richie Havens and Woodstock

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Dad loved Richie Havens. So much so that he named his longtime show after one of his records. And they were friends. Richie gave us a cool blurb for our Woodstock book. Today’s post is an excerpt, written by my father, from our book, BACK TO THE GARDEN. Please contact me via the comments if you’d like a copy, I’ll make you a good deal ;). .

It is 5:07 p.m. on Friday, August 15, 1969. You are standing on the stage in the far end of the cow pasture’s natural amphitheater. The stage is set, and you can smell the fresh lumber used for its recent construction. As you look out in front of you, a sea of bobbing heads stretches for miles. It is a wave of humanity unlike any in the annals of recorded history. Certainly, the crowd is unusual for its size and more so for the ostensible reason all these people are here—for a unique type of American music barely fourteen years old called rock ’n’ roll. If you accept the crowd estimate of five hundred thousand, that makes it the second-largest city in New York.

Richie Havens: We were back at the hotel. I was supposed to go on fifth and there was no way to get anyone there. There wasn’t gonna be a Woodstock, to tell you the truth. It was gonna be the world’s largest riot, because seven miles away were all the musicians in two hotels, and they couldn’t get to the site at all—no road to get there. And no one could carry tons of amps and equipment down to the stage from seven miles away.

Michael Lang: It was a question of who we could get on the quickest, who was ready, and who needed the least preparation and the least gear. Tim Hardin was an idea. He wasn’t ready. Tim, I think, was a little blitzed, a little too blitzed. He was a friend, and I was hoping that playing at Woodstock would bring him back, because he had been blitzed for a while. And I thought it would be a good opportunity for him to get his shit together, and straighten up long enough at least to get some public recognition. But he wasn’t ready.

Richie Havens: Tim Hardin was there, but he decidedly refused to go on first. He was not coming out from under the stage.

Chip Monck: Tim was absolutely unable to fathom or to deal with the fact of opening the show. He couldn’t be presented without some help. So he politely declined.

Richie Havens: All of a sudden, they said, “Richie! We’ve got a guy with a helicopter who’s gonna come over. You’ve got the least number of instruments, so you’ll go over first.” I said, “Okay, fine.” Then he came back and said, “No, he’s not coming,” then “Yes! He is coming!” Now the concert is three hours late already and in the Holiday Inn driveway comes this little helicopter right outside my window and I hear this noise, so we run out with our two conga drums, two guitars, and the three of us, and we hunch into this bubble helicopter and they took us over.

Michael Lang: Well, Richie was scared, frankly, as I recall. But I think that was a kind of natural reaction to looking at a crowd of that size. But he didn’t make it a problem.

Richie Havens: I actually was afraid to go on first. I knew the concert was late and that maybe it would be a little nuts. I didn’t want to be trampled by a billion people. So I said, “Don’t do this to me, Michael. I’m only one guy. My bass player isn’t even here.”

Richie’s bass player, Eric Oxendine, got caught in the traffic jam leading to the site, and decided to walk the fifteen or twenty miles from where the traffic was stopped dead to the stage. He would have made it in time for Richie’s set if the order hadn’t changed, but that was not meant to be. Lang continued to beg, plead, and cajole. Richie relented and walked out on stage.

Chip Monck: And suddenly, it was show time. I said, “Sit down, stand up, do whatever you wish to do, but we’re ready to start now and I bet you’re pleased with that. And, ladies and gentlemen—please—Mr. Richie Havens.”

He was twenty-eight years old, dressed magnificently in white trousers and a long, flowing orange caftan. Richie Havens was born on January 21, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York. He was a product of that borough’s rough and tough Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood who somehow escaped the dead-end fate of many of his peers and schoolmates in part because of his devotion to music and the arts. He moved to Greenwich Village at the dawn of the ’60s and made his living as a portrait artist and poet. For a while, he lived down the hall from Noel Paul Stookey who was performing as a solo musician-comedian at clubs in the Village before joining forces with Peter Yarrow and Mary Travers and rewriting American music history as the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Stookey befriended Richie and encouraged him to flex his musical muscles. They’ve remained lifelong friends.

Richie took the advice and began transforming his poems into songs, which he performed to great acclaim and growing audiences throughout the rest of the decade. One major factor that helped Richie gain an audience was the change happening on FM radio. When FM radio came into being, every AM station simply used FM to simulcast its programming. But in 1966, the FCC mandated that the FM signal must broadcast something different. This led to more creative, progressive stations playing the hipper music of the day and gearing their freeform programming to a decidedly younger crowd. One of the early favorites on these so-called “Freak-quency Modulation” stations was Richie Havens. His invitation to perform at Woodstock was a no-brainer.

Josh White: Richie Havens was quite popular at that time. He was a folksinger in the tradition of Leadbelly and Josh White—the other Josh White. He was a favorite on freeform radio stations. He was a very good and impassioned singer, and he was one of the earliest black folksingers who developed credibility with this white audience. The audience loved him.

Mike Jahn: One of the reasons I decided to go to Woodstock was that Richie Havens was going to be there. Richie and I were friends, and I figured if he was going to be there, I could be there. I knew him back in 1966. Somebody gave me a copy of Mixed Bag and I loved it. I got in touch with him and met him in his apartment in the East Village. He took me to Slug’s, a legendary jazz club, and I was probably the only white man in the place. There was some animosity with the guy at the door. He didn’t want to let me in, but Richie said, “He’s cool,” so he let me in. So we went in together to see Sun Ra. Richie was such a sweetheart.

Stan Schnier: When Richie was doing shows at the Fillmore, he didn’t have a road crew. There was a guy named Dino who played backup guitar, and Dino used to come over to our apartment all the time and jam with us. It was a very small world then. Funny enough, most of the time when he and Richie were on stage, you couldn’t even hear Dino, because Richie sang and played so full and loud and Dino was kind of in the back, twiddling. It wasn’t a defined rhythm-lead relationship. It was just something that they had between them that kept Richie locked in. I never saw anybody like Richie before, and I haven’t seen anybody since. He was totally unique.

Tom Law: I met him through Albert Grossman. I’d see him when I was working for Peter, Paul and Mary. I think he’s one of the most soulful people on the planet; I put him at the top of the list.

Billy Altman: I saw Richie Havens open for Cream in the fall of 1967. He was somebody I was familiar with. A great performer. His energy was impressive. He used a tuning where his guitar was tuned to a chord and it allowed him to do all these great rhythmic things. And that made him the perfect act for that point at Woodstock. He was able to get people into the music physically, because of how rhythmic it was, and that’s not something a lot of people could have done.

Mike Jahn: As a performer, Richie was magnetic and charismatic. He had an amazing rich sound, and he used that open E tuning on his guitar and it just sounded amazing. He had huge hands. Piano player hands. You can’t bring your thumb around over the bass strings and bar the strings unless you have immense hands. His voice is very expressive. Here’s a comparison that most rockers will hate, but hearing Richie play “San Francisco Bay Blues” was on the level of hearing Streisand’s rendering of “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Taking an old jolly-time tune and making it into something entirely different. It blew me away. He is a wonderful talent.

You can’t talk about Richie Havens without discussing his ability to perform covers—to interpret other artist’s material. At a time when most of his contemporaries were dismantling the notion of being handed other people’s songs to record and perform by the A&R (artists and repertoire) man at the record company, Richie clearly had it going both ways.

Billy Altman: He was a great singer and a great interpreter also. There aren’t many people who can do Bob Dylan as good as Bob Dylan, or even half as good as Bob Dylan, and he’s one of the few people who’s always been able to do a great job with Dylan’s material. And I say that with the utmost respect. The same is true with the Beatles. Even with songs that you wouldn’t necessarily think would be open to that kind of interpretation like “Here Comes the Sun.” He is able to find things in songs and make them his own. That’s what Richie Havens does.

He wasn’t the opening act; he was the opening “act-cident.” The good luck charm. The omen that in some way everyone at the festival backstage, on stage, and in front of the stage hoped could make you believe that everything was going to be all right. He did his job and he did it magnificently. He was the perfect candidate to spark the flame to light the fire that would burn brightly and tangibly for almost four straight days. His peace-love demeanor and childlike jargon definitely set the tone for the entire weekend of hippie chic:

Richie Havens from the stage on August 15, 1969: A hundred million songs are gonna be sung tonight. All of them are gonna be singing about the same thing, which I hope everybody who came, came to hear, really. And it’s all about you—actually—and me and everybody around the stage and everybody that hasn’t gotten here, and the people who are gonna read about you tomorrow. Yes! And how really groovy you were—all over the world, if you can dig where that’s at—that’s really where it’s really at!

The lightness of his spoken message was in direct contrast to the unrelenting power of his music and his message. He did “High Flying Bird,” the lead-off track from his stunning Verve-Forecast debut album Mixed Bag. He did Gordon Lightfoot’s “I Can’t Make It Anymore.” He performed a trilogy of classic Beatles songs, “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Hey Jude.”

Richie was well past the twenty minutes he was expecting to play, but even after double that amount of time, then triple that amount of time, there was still no sign that anyone wanted him to come off the stage. Nobody frantically giving him the “cut” sign, so he surmised, correctly, that his follow-up wasn’t ready yet. He soldiered on. Literally.

His searing performance of the antiwar song “Handsome Johnny,” cowritten with the then-folksinger, now Academy Award–winning actor Lou Gossett Jr., once again brought the crowd to its feet. Having accrued enough show business savvy to leave them clamoring for more, Richie attempted, once and for all, to leave the stage. It was not to be. Pushed back out once again to face the roaring crowd, Richie looked squarely into the eyes of a moment of truth that few performers in any of the arts ever face. And then it just came to him—an instance of otherworldly creativity that simply defies expectation, but not imagination.

Richie Havens: Two and a half hours—two hours and forty-five minutes later, as I walked off the eighth time, they said, “No, no one’s here yet, go back.” [Laughs.] For the seventh time. I decided I didn’t know what else to sing, you know, it’s like everything I could think of, you know? So, I really had an inspiration. I looked out over the audience, which I could not see the end of because what most people don’t see in the movie is, as far as you could see people in the picture that they show, when I’m on stage, there was the other side of that hill that was equally as large. And the people on that side of the hill never even saw the stage; they just lied down in the field and listened, and that was probably the best sound. It could be heard fifteen miles away actually. Best sound I ever played outdoors, in that sense. But the thing was that I was on stage and I didn’t know what to sing, so I—I looked out and I said, you know, “Freedom isn’t what they’ve made us even think it is. We already have it. All we have to do is exercise it. And that’s what we’re doing right here.” So I just started playing, you know, notes—trying to decide what am I gonna sing and the word came out, “Freedom,” you know. I started singing “Freedom.” And then, of course, “Motherless Child,” which I hadn’t sung in probably seven years—six or seven years, came out. And then there was another part of a hymn that I used to sing back when I was about fifteen that came out in the middle of it. “There’s a telephone in my bosom and I can call him from my heart.” And—that’s how it came together.

Arthur Levy: He used to perform with his eyes closed. I didn’t know if he did that because the amount of sweat he generated stung his eyes or if he just had to block out the audience. It was certainly the largest crowd he’d ever played to. It could have been very daunting and intimidating to perform to that number of people. “Freedom” is one of the great transcendental moments in rock history.

Bob Santelli: Havens saved the day. The manner in which Richie plays, hard strums, open tunings that would allow him to play the guitar as if it were some kind of weapon, as if the notes and the chords that would come flowing out of his guitar were meant to disable any doubters. This is the kind of acoustic music that was ideal for an outdoor setting, especially to kick off the festival. He rose to the occasion. Look at the intensity in Richie Havens’s face and match that with the intensity of his guitar playing and then the rhythms of his conga player. This was a powerful and driving rock band, and he was creating it with a guitar that seemed to have vengeance in mind in some way, shape, or form. It was a powerful performance and it was very lucky that it occurred because there wasn’t a whole lot else that was as compelling or as intense on Friday as Richie Havens.

It couldn’t have started off any better. There are many characters from all facets of the festival who have laid claim to or been given the title “Father of Woodstock.” Some are certainly worthy of the sobriquet. But, more than most, Richie Havens can wear that mantle with pride and dignity and humility. At this writing, he is still the greatest living embodiment of the Woodstock ethos.

On the occasion of this fortieth-anniversary milestone, Richie is still recording, still touring, still painting, still acting, and still making his voice heard on a variety of issues as he completes his seventh decade on the planet. I’d like to illustrate his generosity and commitment with a personal observation. In the 1980s, after the death of singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, I cohosted an annual twenty-four-hour fund raiser at the United Nations for World Hunger Year [now WHY HUNGER], the charitable organization cofounded by Harry and my friend Bill Ayres. On the afternoon of the broadcast, Richie came by to perform and lend a hand before a scheduled concert that evening on Long Island. He sang, he talked, he played, then he left for his gig. That was it. I put it out of my head and moved on to the next guest. At about three o’clock in the morning, the really dead hours of a twenty-four-hour Hungerthon, there was an unexpected knock on the door at the UN. It was Richie! He had taken a collection for World Hunger Year at the concert and brought the proceeds back with him to the city after the show! That is the ethos of Woodstock!

Richie’s performance crystallized and clarified the real underlying reason these half a million people have gathered together here in the single-word clarion call repeated over and over and over again, and

screamed right back at him by the throng, “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom . . . !”