If it can’t compete with the huge open air festivals of the world, then Bonn can celebrate them, and only a City with Bonn’s crazy flair could celebrate the mighty 1969 event that was Woodstock on the roof of an Arts Building. So it was that 1000+ people woke up, saw the sun shining and headed to The Bundeskunsthalle – though sadly I counted not a one with ribbons in their hair nor did I catch the merest whiff of forbidden substances. ‘A Taste of Woodstock’ was the band and the late 60’s was the musical timespace.
It was possibly quicker to get into Bethel, New York in 1969 than it was getting onto the Bundeskunsthalle roof at 1 pm. Due to the current garden exhibition there is a lot of grass currently up there, and due to the heavy rain this last few days a lot of very, very wet soil which equals heavy earth. Someone somewhere calculated that the square root of too much wet soil was 600 and so the maximum number allowed ‘upstairs’ at any time was just that. So it was a case of ten people come down the steps, twenty people allowed up the steps (didn’t quite make sense, unless someone was mentally weighing everyone going in both directions…)
Having made it up the stairway not to heaven but to Woodstock it really is a sight to see. There’s a sizeable lake where once I would stand to get a view of the bandstand – and the bandstand had moved to a different wall just to completely disorientate me.
If I was confused about where I was then I quickly became confused about when I was too. I was too young to catch the late sixties musically unless you count telling some hippies where the ferry to the Isle of Wight was to be found in 1970. The music from Taste of Woodstock had that relaxing atmosphere of 60’s American Folk/Blues/Rock of a kind that did and could only exist for a short time. That said there was a tribute to The Eagles following the death this year of Glenn Frey and said band were only formed in 1971 so that laid back sound did survive quite well and deservedly so.
By the time I’d managed to get up the stairs onto the roof the band were a long ways into the set so I can’t tell what the set-list was but there was certainly a heavy tilt towards CSNY (and for young readers that’s not an American Cop programme but a talented quartet from Rock’s past). ‘Helplessly Hoping’, ‘Teach your children well’ and possibly the longest song title ever assembled: ‘A man’s a man who looks a man right between the eyes’.
There were too quite a few covers from bands who might not have been at Woodstock, but certainly had that Woodstock feeling – America’s ‘You can do magic’ The Byrds ‘Turn, turn, turn’ and the Doobie Brothers ‘Long train running’ for example all rolled along in a sunshine induced haze. No one taking off their clothes and diving into the lake though – which given the average age of the audience was actually something of a relief.
To quote that band formed in 1971, I came away from the show with a peaceful, easy feeling. In the audience I spotted the wonderful Anne Haigis and I’m glad to say that she will be back again in two weeks – this time as the main event. Anne promised me she would be bringing guitarist Ina Boo and a hatful of Blues with her so my advice is to mark 19 June in your diaries right now and get there early!