WOODSTOCK — 50 years LATER
By Shari Goldstein Stern
Who doesn’t love ’60s music, and think it was the best decade of the art form? Most Baby Boomers won’t argue, and might actually be obsessed with the genre, having grown up against the background of Janis Joplin, Santana, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker and Richie Havens. A few other groups who made a statement to the generation are the likes of The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and Sha Na Na.
The dates of Aug. 15, 16 and 17 this year are the 50th anniversary of the biggest rock concert in history, that included those performers and dozens more: Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
Boomers Don Perkins, BA ’68 alum., and his wife Mary are ’60s music fanatics. In August 2014, the couple “let the sunshine in” when they took off on a “magical mystery tour” of musical landmarks across the country.
The highlight was a stop at Yasgur’s Farm, home of the world’s largest and most memorable concert, Woodstock.
After visiting friends near New York City, the couple embarked on a “musical odyssey,” as Perkins calls it. They traveled about 100 miles to Bethel Woods and the Woodstock grounds. “We drove around the area and saw the pond where the skinny-dippers enjoyed the weekend. We walked the site of the stage and the grounds where almost half a million concertgoers sat, stood, sang and danced,” Perkins said.
According to Perkins, while taking a photo at the Woodstock monument above the stage area, “We met a guy about our age, Duke Devlin, who lived in the area and came out to tell the ‘Woodstock Story’ to visitors a couple of times a week.” He added, “As it turned out, the guy was from Amarillo and had hitchhiked to the festival in 1969. Devlin met a woman there, later married her and has lived there ever since.”
“We learned some of the trivia from Duke,” Perkins shared. For example, “Richie Havens went on first because his group was the only one small enough to fit on the helicopter they first brought in due to the crowd size. ‘Freedom,’ the song he sang in the movie, was improvised on the spot.”
The music fans were thrilled by the Woodstock museum. “There are many great artifacts, exhibits, films and photos in the museum,” Perkins reminisced.
After several hours at the Woodstock site, they continued their journey, with their next stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Their amazing journey then took them to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
This was not the only time Don and Mary ventured back in time. In 1980, they visited Liverpool and took the actual “Magical Mystery Tour,” where they visited the Beatles’ boyhood homes, Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, the Cavern Club and many other sites.
They have waxed nostalgic visiting Sun Records Studio in Memphis. Who knew there is a small museum in Wink, Texas (or that there is a Wink, Texas?) that includes Roy Orbison memorabilia?
The Perkins were there. They enjoyed the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock. Not to miss an opportunity, they heard the Buena Vista Social Club perform at the Hotel Nacional after visiting John Lennon Park in Havana, and they were thrilled to enjoy concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheater near Denver.
Perkins said, “We highly recommend that all Boomers take the ‘Marrakesh Express’ to these historical sites, and especially to the one that epitomizes the ’60s: Woodstock.”
The traveling couple is taking it easy this summer. They’re being entertained by hosts BA alum Edna Hanvey Harrison and her husband, Richard Harrison, at their cabin in Taos, N.M.
The adventurer added: “Mary and I are both big music fans, and Woodstock has been such an important event to our generation. I have watched the film too many times to count and have always wanted to visit the site where the magic happened. As Wavy Gravy said, ‘We must be in Heaven, man!’ Peace and love.”