Goodstock. What a strange and amazing Festival! With only a smallish crowd attending, and nearly everyone in camp being familiar with the behind-the-scenes politics, folks adopted some pretty differing views of what happened. My view is that ultimately Goodstock became a mirror reflection of how the world really is at this point in human history, where apathy reins supreme, passion and fire are an uncommon commodity, and the majority are only concerned with what they can get but not what they can give. I truly believe that it would be absolutely impossible in this day and age to create another Woodstock. Those kinds of things happen by accident or the grace of the Great Spirit, but not by force. The desire is there, but the energies and spirit are few and far between. Goodstock was created by people who had no experience in organizing music festivals and they did not feel very inclined to take advice from others. They DID pull together PLENTY of first class entertainment! They found the ultimate in venues. Volunteers worked VERY HARD to help create the proper environment. Kudos to all volunteers!!! Without people willing to go above and beyond, Goodstock could not have happened or been what it was. And for all those who did NOT come due to the politics, rumors, or gossip, SHAME ON YOU!!!
To dispel some rumors, the creators of Goodstock DID go VERY FAR IN THE HOLE. The cost of renting the Ranch, the HUGE stage, and hiring security, plus other expenses put an extreme financial burden as well as incredible stress on those brave souls whose idea it all was. Lack of proper advertising, also extremely expensive, and all those folks who hurt the event by airing it’s dirty laundry for the world to see or not attending because of skepticism did nothing to help. Many mistakes were made. But as in all things where the play of opposites comes in (life), this was no exception. And so everything happened as it should. Musicians, sound people, organizers of OTHER events of this type including myself, found a wealth of connections and new friends. The Ranch owner, Tom Kamm, grew very interested, decided hippies were just OK with him, saw a lot of potential, and is now networking with others including yours truly to host future events on his most BEAUTIFUL ranch.
So without further ado, here is MY vision of what came about.
Day one – Arrival time sometime Wednesday evening.
What an amazing and unbelievable place! The Good Evening Ranch was almost intimidating in its scope and style. 1000 acres with miles of wooden fences, pastures full of elk, bison, llamas, yaks, exotic cattle. A pond with hundreds of water birds – geese, swans, ducks. Sheep and goats of all descriptions, some running loose on the grounds. Burros, zebras, a stable full of horses. There were lions and tigers and monkeys in cages… There was a race track for dirt bikes and 4 wheelers, a golf course, fishing ponds, a restaurant, gift shop, bar, and guest houses far nicer than my own home. I hardly knew how a large group of hippies was going to fit into this exotic and posh scenery.
The stages would be set up inside a giant arena where they hold rodeos and horse shows. At first folks were disappointed that the music would be under a huge roof and not outdoors, but when the STORMS started on Thursday that all changed.
Before I went to bed that night I heard some very strange and loud sounds coming from some unknown place. They gave me the goose bumps. At first I thought someone had some kind of contraption that made odd noises, until finally I discovered that at feeding time the lions would start making the WEIRDEST grunting sounds that sounded almost surreal… .
Day two – I soon discovered that the sun came up EARLY here and sleep was out of the question after 7:00 in the morning. I also found out that the covering I had put over my tent was NOT waterproof. The Ranch is pretty high up in top of a hill and there is nothing to stop the wind. I tied my tent to a truck to keep it from blowing away. One severe storm after another went thru on Thursday and all the sound equipment got damp. The rain blew sideways and everyone got wet, no matter where they were. Sometimes the rain would get so loud on the roof of the arena that you couldn’t hear the music.
Bands started playing about 1:00. “Good Earth Sound” provided Thursdays sound equipment for the smaller stage, and “Worm” the sound man did a fantastic job considering the problems of getting everything to function properly while fighting with wind and rain and connections that did not have the right connectors… Plus once the BIG stage was set up, all the sound equipment was moved AGAIN onto the big stage. Folks spent the day walking around getting acquainted, trying to stay dry, and the music went on into the night, as did the rain. We danced to stay warm.
This is the first music festival I ever went to that had to shut the music down at one in the morning because it was “bothering the kangaroos”! But that’s what happened that night, and so a bunch of folks started a drum circle and played until after 3:00 in the morning. Nobody really wanted to go to bed, because all there was to look forward to was wet blankets. Nothing was dry. I envied the people with campers that night.
So many friendly people! I began to make friends and found several people who knew who I was from seeing me on the internet. Oh yea, I DID perform on stage. Twice. And then it was a steady stream of autographs, hugs, and compliments, and requests for CD’s. Fame is such a weird concept… But it felt as if I surely must be at that moment. And being a musician, other musicians are drawn to you, and before you know it, they have all become like some wonderful kind of extended family. Suddenly everyone knew me.
People were camped everywhere, and the music carried a long ways, so it was impossible to know how many people were there. They would drift in and out of the arena depending on what band was playing at the moment. SO MANY EXCELLENT BANDS! Some who were pretty much unknown until now, and some with members who were famous “back in the day”… I spent a lot of time talking to members of the “Seeds” who started to feel like old friends, and found Sky Saxon to be a truly beautiful person and his wife had such a good aura… Rumor has it that Sky coined the term “flower power” back in the 60’s. The Mind Garage was absolutely great and I do see why they were invited to play at WOODSTOCK. They should have. I was transported back in time by their tunes.
Day three – Friday. The day I realized that the “Woodstock” spirit of peace/love/brotherhood was indeed with us. The bands played on. One incredibly good band after another until they all blended together and I couldn’t keep track any more. Sensory overload. Smiles and hugs everywhere. Strangers who were now friends, having coffee together, talking about music, politics, revolution, spirit, and just about everything else under the sun, which was now shining. I dragged my waterlogged bed and clothes out and laid it all in the field to dry. More and more people began to arrive and after my second time onstage there was more signing of autographs and hugs and smiles. My dear friend and fellow musician, Hammer, was there with his band and he requested to be “saged” before they went onstage. I had brought a bag of desert sage and a bag of sweet sage with me and I decided to bless the entire arena with it’s sweet smoke. I danced all around the place and people here and there called me over to be “smudged”. It is a native American tradition that burning sage is used to purify your space and drive away “evil spirits”. I was surprised at how many people did not know what it was. But I should not have been, I suppose. The owner of the Ranch contracted Budweiser to sell beer at Goodstock, which brought in a lot of locals who had no experience in such things. And so, many people experienced being smudged for the first time. They got a real kick out of it. It made them feel like a part of the experience. And THAT is what it’s all about. Bringing folks together. Finding common ground.
Along with more people arriving, more “security” was added to the equation. Off duty STATE TROOPERS had been hired to help with “security”. Personally I would have felt far more secure without these pokerfaced and obviously well armed individuals hanging around. I’m not sure why they could not have at least CONCEALED their weapons at such a peacefully oriented gathering. At one point I felt as if I were a prisoner at the arena, because every time you would walk past those good old boys they would send out the most horrendous “vibes”. It felt like if you did not meet their criteria for the “proper paperwork” you might be unceremoniously escorted out the front gate. They became the gate nazis. I began to feel sorry for them. How horrible to have a job that always requires you to be the “odd man out”. To dedicate your livelihood to being a pariah among happy and peaceful people. Un-allowed to have any fun at an extremely fun event. And on top of that, all the terrible karma one must accumulate over time due to the nature of their jobs. I had dedicated a rather dark and critical song I had written to the boys-with-badges earlier that day and I needed balance. I don’t like hating or fear, and I decided to confront my feelings and have a little fun at the same time. I approached the two off duty cops with burning sage in hand. I walked straight up and smiled at them, offering them the spirit-cleansing smoke. I explained that I was purifying the area of any evil, and that I felt that they probably needed it more than most. They both looked absolutely horrified! They jumped back from me and the one with the white shirt and very red face proceeded to babble hysterically about not being able to handle THAT. It terrified him! He exclaimed that it smelled like marijuana and threw his hands up in the air waving them around frantically. He kept repeating that he couldn’t stand it, getting redder and redder in the face all the while. A brother tried to explain that it was NOT drugs, but sage, but the poor trooper was simply beside himself and did NOT know what to do. The other trooper backed up rapidly and said it smelled to HIM like some good “chronic”. He kept repeating over and over that HE worked for the drug task force, in a helpless sort of way, like a little kid who flunked his test and kept saying, “but I DID study, I really did…”. I was stunned at the complete lack of anything resembling any real knowledge and I simply told him, “you’ve GOT to be kidding”… Finally, I was able to get past their fears and make them understand what I was doing. I felt great pity for them in their fear and ignorance. I properly blessed them as they danced around uneasily, still trying to keep their distance, and as I left, the red faced trooper THANKED me for the blessing!
Miracles happen in the strangest places!
I finally passed out from exhaustion during a rousing performance by the Crystal Mountain Band. The music was so loud that you could feel the vibration in the ground under the tent.
Day four – Saturday
Sleep deprivation was the order of the day. Bands started once again about 12:30 and ran on until late into the night. The owner apparently had decided that the Kangaroos would be just fine and so there were no early endings to the music after the first day. I decided to kick back and do some exploring. This is the day I took pictures of the Ranch and some of the animals. I took time to stop and hang out with folks who were now becoming quite familiar. Saturday was a good day for making new connections. I got better acquainted with the owner of the ranch and several others who were connected with the music industry. We began to make plans for future events. At the Good Evening Ranch and possibly other venues as well. More to come on this subject, but the possibilities are limited only by peoples lack of imagination…
I spent a couple more hours with sage in hand which by now was a welcome and happy time for the owner and his local buddies as well as many others. By this time the owner was wearing a tie-dye jacket. After dark, my daughter and I brought out hundreds of tea lights and with help of interested spectators, created a huge candle-lit peace sign in the rear of the arena.
All was not perfect tho. Those evil looking boys at the gate who I had worked so hard to bless with sage-smoke the day before, attacked a poor 15 year old soul who had inadvertently ingested too much of some substance or another and was having a hard time with it. Rather than allowing kind and concerned folks to help settle the problem, they shoved him up against the lion cage, handcuffed him, and screamed in his face. He was thoroughly terrorized when all he probably needed was to be talked down. His only crime was having too good a time and getting a bit carried away. The violence, the handcuffs, were totally unnecessary and he will never forget what they did to him.
Aside from that, way too little sleep was the only thing bothering me by Saturday night. It was another long day of hiking and dancing and making friends, and finally, a good night sleep.
Day five – Sunday
Folks were clearing out, the big sound company, “United” spent the day dis-assembling their stage. I spent a couple hours helping with clean-up before taking down my camp. There was minimal trash lying around. I took time to stop and spend some time talking with Tom Kamm when things were not so busy. He was impressed with how little clean-up there would be and agreed that basically, hippies were pretty ok folks. He complained that his rodeo crowd was much more messy. He is very interested in throwing together more similar musical events and we exchanged contact information.
And so, after packing, it was the long and winding road home.
As one fellow put it so clearly, “We are the spirit of Woodstock nation, we are here and we are NOT going away.”