Michael Lang, the original promoter of the 1969 Woodstock Festival announced the lineup for Woodstock 50 Tuesday at Electric Lady Studios in New York City.
Patrick Oehler, Poughkeepsie Journal
If Woodstock 50 is going to happen, it’s going to be without its biggest name, and a performer who helped kick off the troubled festival in March.
Jay-Z, arguably the headliner for the entire golden anniversary festival’s now-uncertain lineup, has pulled out, USA TODAY confirmed.
The news comes on the same day that John Fogerty, who performed at the original 1969 festival with Creedence Clearwater Revival, pulled out of the event. Fogerty and rapper Common took part in a March event at which Ulster County resident and Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang announced a lineup of more than 75 artists.
The festival, scheduled to begin three weeks from Friday, may now move to Maryland.
At the March event, Lang, a co-promoter of Woodstock 50, said ticket sales would begin April 22. They didn’t, amid a holdup securing a mass gathering permit from the state Department of Health to hold the event at Watkins Glen International raceway in Schuyler County.
Similar problems haunted Woodstock 50 when it attempted to move the event to Vernon Downs racino in Oneida County.
Now, officials from Howard County, Maryland are working with Woodstock 50 organizers to hold the festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion amphitheater in Columbia, Maryland.
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said the county and organizers are “still in talks and working out details,” and are “excited” about the prospect of bringing the beleaguered festival to Maryland.
“I can tell you we’re going to go through the process,” he said at a press conference Thursday evening. “We’re going to make sure that it is a benefit to Howard county on the cultural end and it’s going to be a benefit to the region and the world.”
The event, as originally planned, is scheduled to begin three weeks from Friday. However, on Thursday Ball said they are “still working through the exact logistics and looking at mid-August.”
It was the first indication, through months of troubles, that the festival may shift in any way from its longstanding plans for Aug. 16-18. The capacity of the venue and the location may also drastically change how the festival plans have looked.
A spokesperson for Woodstock 50 could not comment.
A celebration of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, the event has no venue, no permit and tickets have yet to go on sale.
Ball said organizers reached out to Merriweather, and the county wants to “make sure that we are strong partners.”
The Merriweather Post Pavilion amphitheater has a listed capacity of just under 20,000. Originally, organizers had hoped Woodstock 50 could have a capacity of 150,000 attendees, a number that has decreased as planning has evolved. The most recent incarnation of the festival plan, when it was proposed to be held in the Town of Vernon, called for a 65,000 capacity.
Hurdles to the festival’s planning have often centered around capacity and how organizers would ensure the safety of attendees and the surrounding town’s residents.
The possibility that Woodstock 50 could head south from New York for the first time in the brand’s 50-year history is the latest twist in a saga that has been unfolding for months and has included multiple legal battles.
Earlier this month, production partner Virgin Produced released a statement abandoning the festival, joining a list of partners that have exited the project including financiers Dentsu Aegis and producers Superfly.
On May 17, Woodstock 50 announced that it had secured new financing through the Oppenheimer & Co. brokerage and investment bank.
Woodstock’s three previous festivals were all held in New York. The groundbreaking Woodstock Music and Art Fair on Aug. 15-18, 1969 was famously held in Bethel, Sullivan County. Its 25th anniversary show, Woodstock ’94, was held in Saugerties, Ulster County, and Woodstock ’99 was held in Rome, Oneida County.
Though he’s no longer performing at Woodstock 50, Fogerty will hit the stage at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on Aug. 18. He’ll close out four days of shows, beginning with Arlo Guthrie on Aug. 15, while Ringo Starr will perform on Aug. 16 and Santana – also booked for the larger anniversary event – will perform on Aug. 17.
Other performers scheduled for the troubled Woodstock 50 include Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, David Crosby, Janelle Monae, Brandi Carlile, Country Joe McDonald, Halsey, the Lumineers and India.Arie.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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